Today I was nearly run over by a golf cart–a big red one that said “Roll Tide.” I suppose I had it coming. I walked out the front doors of the library, took one step, and the super-sized cart breezed past me, not even swerving to miss me. This is what happens when the campus is transformed for Game Day. I should know by now to anticipate the unexpected, the irregular, and the just plain crazy. I mean after all, how many people get flattened by golf carts on their way out of libraries?
But this is not a story about Alabama football. This is a story about karma. I have a history with golf carts, and it’s not a particularly pleasant one.
Incident Number One: At the artists’ retreat where I used to work, way up in the mountains, one of my jobs was to take care of guests. Sometimes this meant changing light bulbs, giving directions to the nearest Wal-Mart, or fetching fresh towels. But when certain groups arrived, it meant driving folks down the hill to the dining hall. It was the mountains, after all, and some people had bad knees and replaced hips, vertigo and whatnot.
So one evening, I was charged with driving a rabbi who was approximately as old as Moses, to the dining hall. He was a bit of a curmudgeon who, years before, had been convinced the chef was trying to poison him. He made it clear he didn’t think I was capable of maneuvering a golf cart ride when he slid in next to me. He grumbled all the way down the hill, and I did my best to not give him whiplash, or move too fast that I startled him. When we got to the dining hall, I did my three-point turn to get him closer to the door. Unfortunately, there was a moment where I couldn’t tell if the cart was in forward or reverse. I had a 50-50 shot and touched the gas. We lurched backwards and crashed into the cook’s car. The rabbi snorted and poked his head out of his collar much like a turtle. “I think you hit something,” he said in his raspy voice. Of course he told everyone at the table as potatoes and beans were passed around him. And of course he had to tell my boss, who I think I heard laughing in his office, hours later with the door closed.
Incident Number Two: Same cart, same location. This time, I was not driving. But the caretaker, whom everyone said looked like Richard Gere when he still had dark hair, had the pitiful little pedal to the floor as we spiraled down the drive to the lodge. He was on Mr. Fix-it duty, and I, for some reason, was helping. So en route to the broken thing we were going to fix, he decided to take a short cut and drive on a walkway that squeezed between the corner of the lodge and a row of healthy mountain laurels. “Hang on,” he said gleefully–two words I have now grown accustomed to hearing from a man’s mouth. In my head, we looked like that scene from the Duke of Hazard–you know the one–where the General Lee goes soaring over the pond and bounces in the dirt on the other side. Mountain laurel slapped my face and arm, leaving scratches that people would later ask about. We almost made it, but the pass was a little narrower that he thought, and we got stuck between the brick wall and the laurels, the limbs filling the space around us in the cart. The tiny wheels spun as he muttered curses he learned in the Navy.
So the way I see it, I did enough damage to golf carts to have a little something coming back to me. I could blame it on the full moon, and I could blame it on the aura of Game Day that fills the air. But this time I think I owe it to the rabbi, the caretaker, and the scratch-and-dents I added up along the way.