THE BLOG
05/05/2011 01:09 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Car Trouble Took My Daughter a Step Closer to the Real World

Okay, so this isn't a typically bouncy post on healing or Madeleina. This is a stinky post on car trouble. Specifically, my 1994 Oceanic Green Ford Ranger pickup's car/truck trouble.

The beautiful thing has 299,271 miles on it. I'm watching because I want to be there when it hits 300,000, and 400,000 and half-a-million.

Marco has been using her since his car got totaled. Sometimes he uses my 1998 Ford Ranger --dark green -- but lately I've commandeered that one since it's been playing better on the highway and can hit 70 mph without a strain, while the older beauty only hits 65 on a good day or on a downhill run.

But in the last week or two, Marco has been charged with eliminating a 10-foot pile of cement and old wood from his mother's backyard. So he traded trucks as the newer Ranger has a little better pulling/carrying capacity and much better tires.

So I'm back to the oceanic green and loving it. She's my pal.

But today, after driving to Wal-Mart and Fort Worth and Two Bucks, she started to smoke on the way home. I pulled onto the shoulder of I-35, the major drug running route from Mexico into the U.S. No problem, as I had/have no drugs. But I also didn't have a phone, so I had to run across the interstate, jump a fence, walk a wet gully, hit a factory and beg the use of the phone to call Italo to tell him I was stranded, had groceries and needed a wrecker to pick the truck up and take it to my mechanic, Rick's.

I also told him to have Marco pick up Madeleina from school as I wasn't going to make it.
Italo decided not to call a wrecker till he reached me, about an hour on a 90-degree day. No big deal. He arrived, we called one, they said they'd be there in an hour. They were and brought my truck to Rick's. Then Italo brought me home -- me slightly upset because I'll need a new/rebuilt transmission for $1400 on a truck with 300,000 miles -- to Chepa's, where I secured my other truck, the one Marco has been using.

Darned if I didn't find that the bed of the pickup is loaded with about 3,000 pounds of cement pieces, more than enough to wreck the truck. Damned if I don't have to go to the dump first thing tomorrow so I don't lose another transmission. Damned if I haven't figured out how Marco destroyed the transmission in the older ocean green truck -- with 3,000 pound loads of cement in a pickup meant to carry half a ton, plus passengers.

I decided not to rail at Marco. Instead, I took my dark green truck and drove home. It was about 6:35 p.m.

There I was met with a scowling Madeleina.

"Dad! I told you I had a concert tonight at 6 p.m.! Why didn't you pick me up? I missed it!"

"Honey, I'm sorry. I was stuck out on a highway waiting for a tow-truck. Why didn't mom take you?"

"Mom went out Saturday to Jessica's, then went out Sunday to Monica's and she hasn't been home since."

"Why didn't Marco take you?"

"You were supposed to take me...."

"I know, darling, but I was sitting on a highway at 3:45, on the way to picking you up at 4."

"I doubt that."

"Ask Italo. He came and saved me."

"Well, I missed the concert. Thanks a lot."

"I'm sorry. What else can I say. I was 20 miles from here on an interstate."

"But I had faith you would make it here."

I smiled.

"Thank you baby. But in the future, if I'm with a broken truck 20 miles away and you have an hour to get somewhere, ask your brother to take you if mom's not home. Even if I could have walked home I had no way to get you back to school. And I was not going to abandon a truck and groceries on a highway."

"The older I get," she said, "the more I realize you're a long way from Superman."

I didn't say anything. I know I'm not Superman. I'm just dad. And when she was little, it seemed I could do anything, get her anything, fix anything. Now that she's becoming a woman, a person, she sees the limitations. I've always known they were there but for her to see them is a letdown.

I'm sorry baby. Your daddy is just another person. I'm working in your corner, but even my best isn't always good enough. Welcome to the world, little girl. I'm sorry you have to be here. Cause it's a much nicer place when you think there is someone who can, in a pinch, fix it all.