When Alan and I moved back to Stratford to open our B&B, we knew we would need to supplement our income somehow. We had the brilliant idea of baking bread and selling it at the local farmers market, little realizing where that would lead us.
We bought a small (for commercial ovens) commercial oven for the back corner of the kitchen and realized that we would need a way of getting the bread from the house to the market. At that point in our lives, I hardly ever drove at all and we had, in fact, been car-free for the past year. It became Alan’s job to find the vehicle we needed.
“It’s um…. Well it will get us where we need to go,” was how he described it. “I’ve named him Roy.”
I was already living in Stratford on moving day. Alan loaded up a rented U-Haul and a friend drove the new vehicle from Toronto.
Near the time that Alan was due to arrive, I heard a distant rumble. This was soon joined by a high-pitched whine and a sort of nervous clanking. The noise grew louder. I looked at the clock and waited for the noise to pass us by, thinking how Alan would laugh when I confessed that I thought it was our new truck….
The noise pulled into our driveway and stopped with a low rattle and one final clank.
I ran outside to behold: Roy. A pale blue boxy, rust-pocked pick-up truck without a hint of glamour or cool. Upon this would our livelihood depend for the next five years.
Alan pulled up at that point in the U-Haul and we spent the next several hours unloading everything, including the extremely heavy and lacking anything to safely grab onto commercial oven, into the house and breaking a glass table top.
Then we ate a lot of pizza, thanked all our helpers and went to bed.
The next morning, we needed to return the U-Haul to the edge of town. Which meant Alan would need a ride home.
“Can’t you take a taxi?” I asked desperately.
“Honey, we’ve just sunk every dime we have into buying this place…”
I had to drive Roy.
Thankfully, Sunday mornings in Stratford were (and still are) pretty darned quiet, so I was able to maneuver the behemoth through town without the distraction and danger of other cars.
But the quietness meant that everybody could hear Roy coming. People ran out to their porches to see what was going on.
I arrived safe, if a bit sweaty at the car rental, and turned off the engine. Alan finished up what he had to do, climbed up into the cab and turned the key in the ignition. The engine started OK, but when he turned on the heater it gave a low growl. We looked at each other.
“Turn it off,” I urged.
“But I’m cold. And the windows are fogging up.”
The growl grew louder. And, somehow, wetter.
We looked at each other in fascination.
Roy seemed to cough twice and then out of the vents came a cloud of black hairiness that covered Alan and most of the front seat.
This was one of those hair-trigger moments, when you don’t know, nor can you control which way your emotions are going to go. Tears? Rage?
He spent the next five minutes in helpless laughter and we both agreed that this was the best vehicle EVER! And in that moment of joy, I got him to agree that I would never have to drive this thing ever, ever again. Yay me!
But, because of that, and because he spent every Friday night for the next eight years baking bread, it was my task to keep an eye on the weather and if we were in for precipitation, rain or snow, I would have to cover the opening on the back of the cap (it had a window once) with a shower curtain held in place by bricks. This was especially exciting on windy evenings when the shower curtain would wrap itself around me and I’d just want to throw the bricks at Roy. But if we didn’t cover up, the inside of the back of the truck would get wet and that was no good for transporting the bread.
But there’s something about adversity borne. Once it’s behind you, life has a sweetness that can’t be taken away. So now on wet Friday nights, I can snuggle up inside and make myself infinitely happier with the thought that at least I don’t have to go out and brick the truck.