I purchased my first new truck in Houston on a Monday during the summer of 1985; a green Toyota 4X4 King Cab pickup, piled high with fixings – sunroof and bed-liner notwithstanding.
I kept the truck parked in the apartment cul-de-sac out front with a dozen or so other vehicles.
Running late for work the following Friday morning, I rushed out of my apartment, found the truck, jumped inside and made a beeline for eight-to-fivesville.
Several blocks later, I brought the truck’s radio to life. Odd, I thought, unable to remember having set any channel pre-sets. Someone at the dealership must have chosen this lame station I figured, searching for something more to my liking.
The odometer caught my eye moments later. The seven-hundred-miles-in-five-days puzzle didn’t add up. Shouldn’t be more than three hundred, if that, I reasoned.
The morning was cool as far as Houston summer mornings go, and more surprising, not humid. I reached to open the sunroof.
Not feeling the sunroof button, I glanced up and discovered my sunroof was missing. Vanished. Poof. Gonzo.
Like a cold hammer to the head, it hit me. Wrong truck! Convinced it was being reported stolen that very moment, I panicked. It had to take less time to phone in a police report than drive ten blocks.
Dodging morning traffic, I whipped a U-turn and zoomed home.
Back in the cul-de-sac, I spotted my truck, bed-liner and sunroof, enjoying themselves three spots to the right. I corrected my mistake and left for work a second time.
Leaving home to run errands the following afternoon, I spied a young lady getting out of the sunroof-less imposter. “Excuse me!” I called out, “I’ve got something to show you!” Realizing how stupid this must have sounded, I expected her to run to Louisiana.
“Yes?” She replied with a smile as she walked towards me. She extended her hand, introducing herself as Lisa.
“You’re not going to believe this, Lisa” I said, proceeding to unlock her truck door with my key. “Guess what? I continued, “My key will start your truck too!”
I pointed to my truck sitting across the cul-de-sac. “See? Green like yours and everything the same but the sunroof!”
I explained how I had mistakenly taken her truck the day before. “I’m sorry,” I continued, “but I returned it as soon as I realized it didn’t have a sunroof.” I threw in the details of the radio pre-sets and odometer mileage just in case I wasn’t convincing. She listened intently.
Oddly, Lisa didn’t look a bit surprised. Rather, she seemed a bit amused by the situation. As I finished, her smile seemed wider than when I’d started.
“You’re taking this better than I expected,” I told her. “It’s funny when you think about it. I can’t believe it took me ten blocks to realize your truck wasn’t mine. Next time I’ll make sure my truck has a sunroof.”
“Hey, don’t worry, I know exactly how you feel,” she said. “How is that?” I asked. “Believe me, it could happen to anybody,” she replied with a still growing smile. “Thursday morning it took me ten MILES to realize your truck HAD a sunroof!”
Tripp Holmgrain is an avid outdoorsman who always leaves early for work. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.