Teri Vance: New photos stir old memories
August 5, 2018
A friend of mine shared a photo on my Facebook page this week.
To the outside observer, it probably seemed like a benign funny picture. But to me, and anyone who knows my history, it wasn't benign at all.
The photo of a pivot sprinkler system straddling a pickup truck brought back some vivid memories for me.
It was the summer of 1994, and my dad got his first pivot, a large piece of machinery attached at one point that irrigates in a circular pattern around that point.
The pivot is programmed to "walk" on its wheels in a specific pattern to irrigate crops.
It was certainly within the first month we'd had the pivot I was left alone to program it for the night.
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Driving back out of the field, I got the truck stuck. I tried for a bit to get it out, but ended up just walking close to a mile home.
I told my dad I got the truck stuck in a ditch and had left it out in the field.
The truth is, and I've never admitted this before, I was pretty sure the truck was in a precarious spot. But I was more afraid of getting in trouble at the moment than fixing the problem, that I was kind of vague when explaining the situation.
The truth was soon to make itself known, however.
The next day, dad drove my sisters and me down to the fields to get the truck unstuck and start the chores of the day. I was riding in the back of the International flatbed truck, with the sun just peeking up into the orange sky. The summer air was crisp, almost cold, as we approached the alfalfa fields.
I remember thinking, "Oh no, that pivot looks close to the truck."
My dad must've been thinking the same thing because I felt his speed increase.
As we got closer, he drove faster, more erratic.
We were no longer driving on the dusty roads, but cutting straight through the field, clods of dirt flying up instead of the gentle swirl of dust.
As he sped across the broken dirt, tools, a spare tire, the dogs, me, we all bounced uncontrollably up and down on the flat, wooden surface. My bones jarred and my teeth clattered.
But that was nothing compared to when the truck stopped. My dad jumped out. I followed right behind. By now, we could see where the pivot had walked across the hood and windshield of the pickup, smashing metal and glass.
While one part of the pivot was stuck on the truck, the rest of it continued to try to move until it flipped upside down on itself. It looked like a dead bug.
I wished I was a dead bug.
We stood next to each other, sunk into the mud nearly up to our thighs, not saying a word.
I'll never forget the sound of water dripping methodically onto the twisted metal.
Finally, my dad spoke.
"For future reference," he said. "That is a tire rut. Not a ditch."
That one picture shared on my timeline brought all these feelings rushing back. The horror, shame, regret, remorse.
But there was one shimmering light. Thanks to social media — and this photo of a pivot on top of a truck — I can finally be assured I'm not the only one who's made that mistake. Somewhere in the world, there's another person who knows my pain.
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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