by David G. Woolley
Kathleen Johnson is vice president at Central Bank. She's also a soccer mom. For years she faithfully supported her son and his teammates in every endeavor but one. She didn't do carpools. When there was no one else to drive the team to a tournament Kathleen handed over the keys to the family van and informed me she wasn't driving. We were in a hurry. There was an accident. I took a short cut through a gas station parking lot and she chided me because, "The hurrier you go, the behinder you get." I told her she must be a very cautious driver. That's when her 17 year old son began to laugh.
I still remember the day when a frantic player called in desperate need of a ride to a match. Kathleen tried everything.
"Have you called your dad?"
"He works nights."
"What about your older sister?"
"She's away at college in Boston."
Kathleen knew that but hey, it didn't hurt to try. She also knew the boy's older brother was in Uruguay, but she asked about him too.
"He's doing fine Mrs. Johnson. His Spanish is good. Do you have room for me?"
Of course they had room. There were usually two empty rows in the minivan, just enough room to stay out of upper cut range. There just wasn't room to explain her condition. The doctors called it intermittent explosive disorder. You know it as road rage.
Kathleen insisted all passengers buckle up. She never had to repeat herself. We were in Seattle Washington with the team one August. I drove the lead van. Kathleen was behind the wheel of van number two. A freeway construction zone came out of nowhere with a line of four foot orange cones directing traffic to merge right. I got over just in time. Kathleen took out ten cones and one of those little yellow "slow" signs before she merged. At the debriefing in the hotel parking lot she spoke in a rather somber Dr. Jekyll tone. She said, "I don't know where I got some of those words. I'm really sorry." The boys in her van didn't say anything. No one wanted to provoke her Mr. Hyde. They went to bed without questioning the curfew. If all parents had that kind of teenage control the world would be a quieter place.
It wasn't the passenger gasps that bothered Kathleen. She never noticed anything but stupid drivers. That isn't what she called them most of the time. The 65 to 95 in three seconds was an easy trick. Weaving between lanes at rush hour no problem. Calls and texting behind the wheel? Like walking in her sleep. And all of it, she claimed, was for the team.
What bothered Kathleen most were the apologies. She loathed the end of every carpool run. Until our boys were old enough to drive she required they sign an affidavit. Most of the twelve year olds didn't know they were under age. Among other things, they agreed to never repeat any of the language about stupid drivers that had no business with a license. The phrase "stupid drivers" was affidavit language for all those other words. The boys also agreed to stop clawing the leather seats.
The next time you stop by Central Bank, ask the teller if they know Kathleen. I do it all the time. They nod, but say very little.
They must be in Kathleen's carpool.
Join author David G. Woolley at his Promised Land Website. He is also a weekly contributor to the Latter Day Authors blog and he writes commentary and opinion at the Utah Ranger's Far Post blog