One week from harvest, the craziest part of the farming year. My job during harvest? Keep the guys in the combine by feeding them, watering them, fetching for them. This requires a vehicle that can be loaded with ice chests, parts, baling wire, groceries, five-gallon water jugs and be driven into fields. One week from harvest and I need a vehicle. My trusty SUV is needed elsewhere and I have been driving my ’93 Miata, a two-seater with room in the trunk for a toothbrush. This tiny car is shorter than the tires on a pick-up truck, totally unsuitable for field driving.
Enter the local radio station’s Swap Shop. A phone call connects my husband with a man who has a Buick station wagon parked at his place and “not doin’ nothin.’ I’d take $700 for it. It doesn’t start, but if you keep it on the charger all night, she’ll fire right up.”
My husband talks him down to $500. When I get behind the wheel I realize the ancient all-electric power will not move the seat forward. But I’m a farm wife. I can schooch my bottom to the edge of any seat, or non-seat, as in the case of a few of the trucks, and reach the pedals. We joke about strapping a block to my foot. I settle for a fat pillow behind my back.
I drop the seat backs and create huge cargo space, into which I load a cooler and my insulated bags and head to Sam’s Club. There, I load a flat cart with cases of food and beverages, a 40-lb. bag of dog food, and two 20-lb. bags of ice. Then out to the Buick in the parking lot.
I can’t open the hatch. The man who owned the car told us there was a button in the glove box that would unlatch it. I press the button and hear a “snap”. But the hatch won’t open. My ice is melting. My meat is warming. My blood pressure is rising.
I crawl into the back of the car from the back door and roll onto my back, kicking the hatch with my feet. Nothing.
I open the back passenger doors and crawl into the cavernous cargo hold, laying hold of the ice chest and dragging it toward the open passenger door. I load it with ice. It now weighs 40 pounds. I crawl back into the cargo hold and, on hands and knees, drag the ice chest to the opposite side of the space, crawling back out and wrestling the dog food in. Now the meat, loaded into insulated bags. Now the produce. Each item transferred into the car requires me to enter and drag it to the other side of the hatch. Now the hold is halfway loaded. I steer my flatbed cart around the back of the car, intending to load the rest from the other side of the car to avoid crawling inside again. I pass the back of the car. I glance at the stubborn hatch. I see the words printed: “Use key to open hatch”.
If anyone had the foresight to transfer the security tape of the Sam’s parking lot to U-Tube, I’m sure the resulting footage would have gone viral. The maniacal laughter from the disheveled, middle-aged farmer’s wife turned more than one head.
I made it home. I got through harvest. And I named the car Beed-o (think Minions). Beed-o and I got ‘er done. And if I leave the charger on overnight and air up the tire in the morning, we will do it all again tomorrow.