I have some new neighbors, and, for the most part, I instantly don’t like them much. …Because they’re loud, sloppy, dirty, aggressive, and disruptive. Typically, they own a Pitbull. (Now, I have nothing against Pitbulls, but I’m not real happy with the ugly folks who purposely make them mean and dangerous.)
Anyway, so, last night, Hubs got home very late, way after dark, so dinner was postponed till way after my normal bedtime. We were just sitting down to this late supper when, outside, the roar of one of the “regulars” who visit the above-defined neighbors breaks the silence of the night. And then there’s yelling.
“What’s going on?” Hubs asked.
I shake my head, but get up and head out the door to find the answer. And then I start to watch.
The son of the family, an amazingly nice boy — he must be thirteen or thereabouts — is sitting in the hopped-up Jeep that belongs to the young Mexican-American man (a brother of the wife, I think). The lights are on, the engine running. The owner of said vehicle stands outside listening as the boy — scared — yells that “he doesn’t know how.”
The young man maintains a steady, even tone, his accented words gentle. “I know. You’ll get it.”
I can’t hear the rest of what he says, but it seems as if he’s giving the boy instructions on “how.”
Now, teaching someone to drive is very stressful. It falls under the heading “absolutely NOT fun.”
The engine revs. The Jeep lurches forward, then stalls, its lights dimming.
Again, the boy hollers. The man speaks calmly, compassionately…patiently, his voice still gentle. This is, I find, very unusual, because the young man is quite normally a strutting peacock, full of vim and piss.
The Jeep turns over, revs, gears grind (I’m cringing as I’m sure is the owner.), then it lurches forward, and hesitantly makes progress.
I worry that the boy is going to hit one of the trucks parked on the side of the road. …He doesn’t, but steers the hopped-up beast he’s driving pretty well. It’s the clutch that’s his problem, it seems. (Isn’t it for any of us when we learn to drive a stick shift?)
The boy gets to the end of the street, tries to make a u-turn, fails, almost hitting one of the parked trucks. He slams on the brakes, the rig sitting sideways in the road. The rig dies, lights dimming again. He gets it started again, but he can’t get it into reverse. He’s practically sobbing as he again hollers out the open driver’s window down toward the waiting man.
The man walks past, heading toward the vehicle. When he gets there, I hear, once again, the gentle voice giving instructions. The boy, whose shrill whine sounds so very stressed, finally quiets and, as the man gets into the passenger side, he manages to grind the gears and, after another couple of stall-outs, manages to get the rig turned around.
They take off down the street, the vehicle alternately slowing and lurching forward. Whew, I think.
Several times up and down the road, and, by the time a half an hour is up, the boy is getting it. He’s able to clutch smoothly. (I’m thankful all this time that the boy already has steering down.)
They stop at the house, both man and boy get out, the boy’s voice still a bit tentative, the young man’s voice still soft and encouraging as they say good-night. The boy heads for his house, and the Jeep starts. The young man puts his foot in it — not too much, though — and takes off down the road into the darkness.
I stand there thinking, what patience and compassion the young man has exhibited, despite the fact that his Jeep, his pride and joy, has taken a bit of abusive punishment to its transmission, engine, and clutch. Usually one only sees that degree of gentility and calmness within the elderly. Here, I witnessed it from a youth just entering his twenties. I’m impressed and just a little bit proud, despite the family he’s kin to.
I’m so glad he’s there for that boy, a boy whose father is notoriously loud, brazen, and exhibits every trait of a defensive-aggressive white trash male. Thank heavens for the “other side” of the family — the Mexican-American side. Despite their macho strutting, they own patience and compassion with their own.