Living on a farm in Ferrisburg, Vermont was a life that many city kids envied. I was at the age when my father gave me more responsibility. He let me drive a tractor and rake the fields, but he would always start the tractor for me and put it in gear, and all I had to do was drive and put on the break. I was ready for more.
Later on that summer my day had come to actually drive the tractor home from the upper field to the barn area and park it. My father started the tractor for me. “Dad, can I drive the tractor home today?”
“Are you sure you’re ready to try this?”
“I’m sure, it should be easy. Just show me how to do it.” He showed me the mechanics of driving, and turning it off. The part that didn’t sink in my memory was the fact that it was a standard with a clutch and a break!!
I was so proud of the fact that I was actually driving the tractor home all by myself. The wind was blowing through my hair, and I felt a strong sense of independence!! I said to myself, “Wow, this feels great and so grown-up! I’m actually driving this tractor by myself!”
As I approached the driveway, I saw my mom hanging clothes on the line. I waved at her so I could get her attention. She waved back and said, “Be careful and slow down!”
Suddenly, satisfaction turned to fear. I applied the break, but the tractor kept going and going and going! I screamed in my mind, “Oh my God, the tractor won’t stop! What am I going to do to STOP this tractor?” My heart was racing in such a panic.
My eyes turned to my mother as she was screaming, “Kathie, please stop the tractor!!” What was I going to do so this wouldn’t end terribly?”
Time was running out as my tractor was aiming right for the cement drop-off. All of a sudden, I got a picture in my head to turn the starter switch to the “off” position. The tractor immediately turned off and teetered on the side of the cement wall ready to plunge to the bottom. My mom raced over to me still screaming and asking if I was okay. I said that I was fine, but the tractor was in bad shape. She hugged me and said, “The tractor could be replaced, but you can’t.”
I learned a great lesson through this experience and that’s to listen thoroughly to my father’s instructions,and not to be anxious to be independent when I’m not secure with the steps on how to drive the tractor by myself.