When I was in high school, I had a little pickup that I drove everywhere. But one day it started smelling like burning plastic. After further inspection, I found that some of the wiring had shorted and melted.

My dad had me leave it at his shop. He owned a farm business and sold tractors, combines, and any other type of farm equipment a person could possibly want. He said that he would have one of the mechanics that worked for him put a new wiring harness on it.

The problem was that most farm equipment are big diesel machines. I expressed my concern to my father, but he assured me that the wiring was the same.

My dad told the mechanic that he wanted it finished by Friday. I would be traveling to a wrestling meet in Salmon, a distance that took more than three hours to travel one way on the bus. I wouldn’t arrive back at the school until about 1:00 in the morning, and my parents hoped I would be able to drive myself home.

On the morning of the meet, my dad drove me to his shop so I could drive my pickup to the school. It wasn’t too far to the school, but there was one right turn and one left turn. When I made the right turn and turned on my blinker, it didn’t blink, but I thought nothing of it other than to think the mechanic might have missed that wire.

When I went to make the left turn and turned on the blinker, the horn honked. Once again, I didn’t think anything of it, other than to think I must have inadvertently hit the horn. I parked the pickup and went to class.

At noon we left for Salmon. The meet went well, and I won my match, but it was a long way home, and I was exhausted when we arrived. Three of my friends asked if they could catch a ride home, and I agreed.

We all stuffed into the little cab, and I started the engine. I then reached up and pulled on the lights. The lights didn’t come on, but the radio did, and it was so loud it nearly blew us out of the cab. I instinctively reached up to turn the radio down, but when I turned the knob, the windshield wipers started going instead, and, suddenly, I realized I had a problem.

The radio was still blaring, and everyone was covering their ears, so I reached up and shut the light switch off. Immediately a wonderful stillness filled the air. I reached up and carefully turned on the light switch, and once again the radio blared. I quickly shut it off again.

“What’s wrong with your pickup?” Curly asked.

“My Dad’s mechanic just replaced the wiring harness,” I replied. “I think he must have gotten some wires crossed.”

“Some?” Curly said, reaching up and turning on the radio and watching the wipers go. “I think the mechanic is the one with his wires crossed.”

Remembering that morning, I reached up and hit the left signal. The horn immediately honked.

“What are you doing?” Lenny asked.

“Trying to find the lights,” I told him.

“Here, let me help,” he replied.

He hit the windshield wiper button, but we didn’t see anything. Donald got out to check things from the outside, and when we hit the wiper button again, he yelled that the brake lights came on.

“Wow!” Lenny said. “This is fun.”

Curly reached out and hit the horn, and the left signal blinked outside. I hit the brakes, and the hazard lights started to flash. I hit the heater fan switch, and the right signal blinked. Finally, Lenny hit the right blinker and the lights came on. Once we had lights, Donald piled back in.

“If everyone can help me remember what does what, maybe we can get ourselves home,” I said. And with that, I pushed on my horn to signal a left turn so I could pull out from the curb.


Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at da***@da*********.com; or visit his website .