There’s nothing like a near-death experience to make you re-evaluate childhood dreams.
I’ve always had a fascination with golf carts. I mean, they are like some strange hybrid between a car and a bike (or so my younger self seemed to think). I was more excited at the prospect of driving a golf cart through the neighborhood, on pavement and grass alike, rather than actually driving a car.
These dreams were most-likely fueled by my friend group’s obsession with Mario Kart for the Wii. I wasn’t that good at the game, but I’ll always have fond memories of stuffing my face with brownies while flailing the remote in my greasy hand and cackling in satisfaction as I successfully knocked my friend off the Rainbow Road. The golf carts I’d seen at the golf course looked nothing like those from video games, but that was nothing that stickers and spray paint couldn’t fix.
The first time I actually sat my tush down in a golf cart wasn’t until my senior year of high school, and even then I did nothing more than ride along as passenger. One of the perks of being an office aide—besides insider’s knowledge of the hidden hallways and rooms behind the main office, school credit for sitting there and playing on my phone for an hour, and the secretaries’ leftover Easter candy—was the permission to use the school’s golf cart. This golf cart was nothing special or fancy, and was usually only used during the homecoming parade or to run the principle up to a nearby fast-food place for lunch, but everyone knew it existed because it was often parked by the front doors of the school, mocking us. Us office aides were told that we could use it if we needed to run something to the building located on a small hill next to the school. Unfortunately, every time my fellow office aide and I got the opportunity to use it, it was always stored away in the shed.
Our chance to drive the cart didn’t come until the last few weeks of school. I have to take the time to question what the authorities of the school were thinking, because we had no training on the golf cart whatsoever. They simply handed us the keys and told us “good luck”. One would think that it wouldn’t be that hard to operate since there were only two pedals to the cart (a gas and brake pedal), but if us having to roll the cart backwards down the hill for several feet before going off the curb because we didn’t know how to reverse the cart has anything to say about that, it’s a lot harder than it looks. Despite this incident, I wasn’t deterred from my mild-but-still-present desire to put the pedal to the metal and burn some golf cart rubber.
Now that driving a golf cart is almost a daily occurrence for me thanks to my job, I can testify to younger Calli that she would be much safer behind the wheel of a gas-guzzling car or truck. Driving in Utah without wearing a padded suit and a helmet isn’t the safest thing either, but at least my car hasn’t actively gone out of its way to kill me. Yet.
My problem isn’t with golf carts in general, but with the single golf cart that the post office owns. If you’ve read my post about our mail truck (reference: Red Mail Truck of Doom: Blinker Optional), you’ll know that our main mode of transportation isn’t without its problems. However, I at least trust Big Red to get me from point A to B; the golf cart has proven that it can’t even do that.
Our golf cart isn’t like one of the fancy ones that the facilities and grounds departments own. It’s old. It once had a blinker but that stopped working long ago. It has doors in the winter, but they fly open and take out any innocent pedestrian in the proximity every time you take a turn. It won’t move more than ten mph, and while that might be good on the crowded University campus, it makes it highly nerve-wracking when we have to cross busy roads.
Lately our golf cart has been having more issues than normal. To be more specific, it likes to break down at the most random of moments. Sometimes a good percentage of our work day involves pushing the golf cart back to the work building. Up until this last Friday, I’d been lucky enough to avoid a full golf cart meltdown, but with me being who I am, it was only a matter of time before my luck ran out.
The golf cart breaking down on me wouldn’t have been a big deal. The golf cart breaking down on me while I was halfway across a busy road was.
A coworker and I had driven the cart up to the library, and although it was moving closer to five mph rather than its breakneck speed of ten, we experienced few problems. It was on our way back to home base when we experienced the technical difficulties.
The cart first sputtered to a stop right before the road that separates the University’s track from the postal operations building. We were literally 30 feet away from our destination when our cart decided to take another visit to death’s door. Thing is, we could still tell that the cart had a little bit of juice left in it. So, like the brilliant, impatient young adults we are, my coworker and I decided to attempt “the crossing”.
Once we could see that the road was clear in both directions, I slammed my foot on the gas while my coworker played around with a little knob that was supposed to help it move. The cart lurched to life and we slowly but surely started to roll across the asphalt. Halfway across the road, the cart turned into the “little golf cart that could not” and decided to stop yet again. Then a truck turned the corner and started to make it’s way towards us.
I was screaming. My coworker was screaming. I’m sure that guy in the truck was screaming. The golf cart laughed at us in little stuttering puffs. It was only thanks to the frantic efforts to my coworker and I that we managed to move in five inch intervals across the road, reaching the corner and thereby safety right before the truck passed.
We sat in stunned silence for a minute, and after I tentatively put my foot back on the gas, the golf cart gave a mocking, healthy purr and we drove to our final destination with no problems at all.
Moral of the story? In terms of applying Mario Kart to real life, you don’t need friends to take you out; the golf cart is more than happy to do that itself. As I write this, the golf cart waits, parked in the all-consuming darkness of the garage, quietly plotting its next attempt to decimate mankind.