Pings From the Back Roads

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pings from the back roads

It was a sunny July morning as I traveled down one of Tennessee’s scenic country roads, and it looked like just another eventless day of driving to a destination of fun investigation. Many mornings I travel the state’s highways and the 840 “super-slab” system to make my visits, but sometimes I take the back roads. I enjoy seeing what the grassroots folks of our state are involved in and just how the crops on our farms are progressing. To be totally honest, I don’t often travel the same trail each day. I’ve told my family that it would be hard for someone to bushwhack me if they depended on this old country boy following the same route all of the time. I like to keep life interesting, and being overly repetitive in anything is not my way of doing things.

This particular morning I was checking on the corn crop over near the Midland community. Some of it is setting some pretty good ears, and a country tradition is that the first five rows belong to the public. Just kidding, of course, but some folks do abide by that standard much like food falling on the floor is all right to eat if you pick it up within five seconds. However, it would be safer to eat Jell-O spilled on the front porch than to take roasting ears from some people’s cornfield without their permission. Always ask before you start shucking corn for your next mess of country goodness.

On this morning, as I rounded the corner looking at a good field of corn, I came up behind a huge dump truck filled with crushed rock and small signs pasted all over the tailgate with writing too small to read from much of a distance. Being somewhat of the curious type, I closed in fast to reach a point behind the truck where I could read what the little signs said. You never know when what others write may pertain to you.

Small gravel started bouncing off my windshield, and I hoped that nothing any larger than a pea would come out of the back of the truck. I finally got close enough to see that those signs did pertain to me. One sign on the left said, “Stay 200 feet away!” Since it was too late for me to abide by that request, I read the sign on the right, which said in fine print, “Not responsible for anything falling from this truck.” A sign in the middle read, “I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you.”

After falling back as requested, and attempting to avoid having the front of my car stoned to death, I began wondering how a simple sign placed on a rock truck can dictate the distance we follow and the amount of the responsibility of the driver when it comes to rocks knocking out our windshields. It wasn’t the signs but the gravel pinging like missiles off my bumper that caused me to fall back and retreat to a safe distance. I don’t know the law on this one, but it reminded me that sometimes actions speak louder than words. A stone in the right place gets our attention much more than a small sign covered with dust.

In my life I have been pinged quite often, and those pings, whether large or small, have done more good in getting my attention than all the “do not” signs I have read posted on the walls of my lifetime. Some of us never get over the tendency to follow too closely, even when it pertains to making a decision of unknown circumstances, closing an important business deal or choosing the correct course of action when having to do something for a loved one. Many times we end up getting the ping in the windshield that makes us wish we had backed off sooner.

Those pings are what gives us character. Some of us have more than others, but without them it only proves we must have traveled some fairly dull roads and the trucks that rode before us were empty. Be thankful for your pings and the full loads ahead.

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