My scouts were adamant about wanting to ride in the back of my pickup, and Gordy was their spokesman. “Riding in the front of a pickup is stupid,” he said. “Riding in the back is awesome.”
I have always felt that when it comes to working with scouts, a person has to pick his battles. Some battles truly are worth fighting head on, for others an alternate way should be found, and then there are those that should not be fought at all. I found this to be a good philosophy, especially in my case with the 18 boys in my troop. They were hard working farm boys, and there were certain things they would really dig their heels in about.
I had always felt that riding in the back of a pickup wasn’t safe. However, when I was scoutmaster, there was no rule against it, so I knew that particular battle would be one based solely on my own opinion.
With all of these ideas in mind, I took some time to considered my options before I answered. As I was thinking, Gordy tried to strengthen their position. “We’ve been working so hard that we really need a chance to cool off.”
I had to admit that the boys had worked hard. We had done a service project, mowing and raking all of the widows’ lawns in the community. Though the boys were quite typical, and did lots of crazy things while we worked, they had also done a good job.
Finally, taking everything into account, I decided I would let them ride in the back, on the condition that they sat down in the bottom of the pickup. I also told them that I would drive slower. They agreed to that, even though they were anxious to get back to the church to play basketball.
The boys packed into the back of my pickup, stuffing their rakes under their feet. We started down the road at about 30 miles per hour. Then I saw something that I thought might help the boys reconsider the joy of riding in the back of a pickup. It was a huge center pivot sprinkler with a high volume end gun that was putting out gallons of water every second. I could see the huge stream of water booming out like a water cannon, and it was moving toward the road. I slowed my pickup to synchronize it to the distance and speed of the sprinkler.
The boys didn’t see the sprinkler. They only had one thing on their mind, and that was basketball.
“What’s the matter?” Gordy yelled. “Won’t this pickup go any faster?”
“You need to get a Chevy,” Mort said.
“A Chevy?” Devon questioned. “If it were a Chevy it would be dead in the road, and we wouldn’t be going any…”
Devon didn’t even finish before the water hit them with the force of a fire hose, and in seconds it dumped tens of gallons of water over them. Even as they hollered I slowed my speed to about 5 miles per hour, matching the turning speed of the sprinkler. I worked the gas, brake, and clutch making the pickup stutter, and lurch, finally coming to a complete stop just as the back of the pickup finished filling with water and the sprinkler turned away from the road.
Through all of the screaming, Gordy yelled, “What the devil was that all about?”
“You guys are right,” I answered. “I need to get a new pickup that doesn’t stall out in water.”
“Yeah, right,” Gordy said sarcastically.
I started the pickup back up, and we headed on our way. And, can you believe it, there was another sprinkler that hit the road just as we went by with the exact same experience, except that the boys saw it coming this time and were hollering even before it hit them. And I don’t know if you believe in coincidence, but we even had an unimaginable third one hit us before we finally arrived at the church.
When we pulled into the church parking lot, the water was still draining from the pickup. I opened the tailgate and water poured out like I was opening a flood gate. I smiled as the boys slogged out and tried to dry off so they could go inside to play basketball.
“I guess that is a chance you take when you ride in the back of a pickup,” I said, smiling.
“Or the chance we take when we have an idiot driver,” Gordy growled.