“Listen, I know you are a newbie, but I need you to get started right away. This car needs to be in Tacoma in one hour, and you are the only one available to drive it.”
I gulped. It was my first day on the job and my first assignment. I had not wanted to start this way, since I hated driving unfamiliar cars, and the tight deadline added stress to the situation. It was about 50 miles from where I was standing in Seattle to the drop-off point in Tacoma, so the tight schedule left no time for errors.
You might wonder why I was in the least worried, since I had been driving for years. I guess it is just my personal style. Usually when I am assigned a new car, I take a little time to learn the ins and outs of that particular car. Every car is different, and every car has its quirks. But with this gig, the luxury of time was not to be had.
“Is there anything in particular I should know?” I asked as I approached the little red vehicle parked on the side of the road.
“Not really, this is just a standard delivery job. If you know how to drive you should be fine. Here’s the address of the recipient, and here are the keys,” my boss said as he tossed the keys and a stack of paper my way. “The car is all gassed up and ready to go, so all you have to do is make sure it gets to Tacoma on time. I’ve got an appointment to get to, so I’ll talk to you some time next week.”
With that, I was alone with the car.
I grabbed the keys and the papers from the street where they had landed and approached the sleek little car. It was like no other I had ever seen, since it had 8 wheels while the normal car had a mere 4. Each side sported 3 wheels instead of 2, and the front and the back each had a half-sized wheel located smack dab in the center of the bumper. It was unique, that was for sure.
I opened the door and climbed inside, only to find the shock of my life. There was only one seat in the car, it had been placed smack in the middle, and there was no steering wheel! Instead, there were hundreds of un-labeled levers of all shapes and sizes covering every surface–walls, ceiling, dashboard. Only the floor remained free of the levers, which made sense, because the levers probably would have interfered with the 20 or so pedals that formed a half-circle around the seat.
I jumped out of the car and raced into the building and up the stairs. I needed someone to tell me how to drive this crazy car, what the levers were for, and which pedal did what. And I needed the help fast, since I was expected to deliver the car to Tacoma in less than an hour.
The boss was closing and locking the front door as I reached the top of the stairs.
“Do you need anything? I am just on my way to the airport. I have an important meeting I need to get to,” the boss said with a smile.
“Well,” I began, “I could use a few pointers or an instruction manual, if you have one handy. This car is a little different–”
“Instruction manual? I don’t think we have one of those. But I’ll tell you what, next week some time I’ll get one of our trainers to give you a tutorial.”
“I’ve got to go right now, or I’ll miss my plane. I’m counting on you to get that car to Tacoma on time. I’ve heard great things about your driving ability, so I know you’ll do a wonderful job. See you next week.”
And with that parting shot, I was once again alone.
I gulped once, took a deep breath, and pulled my shoulders back. There was no way around it, I would have to figure out by myself how to drive that crazy car. And I would have to do it in the next few minutes. There was no time to think, no time to waste.
I had made a promise, and I always kept my promises.
I just hoped I made it to Tacoma in one piece, with no crashes along the way.