The Samurai

One lazy summer afternoon in Montgomery, West Virginia, my roommate Larry walked through the door raving about his new purchase, an old open-top 4x4 Suzuki Samurai. He had just had it towed from its previous owner's driveway, and it was now parked in the alley behind the house. It was in a pretty deplorable condition, but he had high hopes for restoring it to use.

There was only one problem that kept the vehicle from running: the starter would not turn. I suggested that it might be a simple electrical problem, and with Larry's permission I went out back alone to see if I could fix it. I fiddled around with some loose wires and connections, but the motor remained silent. One of my neighbors, a young toddler, rode circles around me on his little 'Power-Wheels', captivated by the new vehicle sitting in the driveway.

After checking almost every wire in the system, I finally noticed the plug to the starter motor dangling below the engine, hiding such that I didn't see it before. I'm not exactly automotively inclined, so I was pleased to have actually had a successful session as a 'sub-amateur mechanic'. I walked around to the driver's side to do the final test- start the engine.

I didn't notice that the Samurai had a manual transmission. Standing outside the driver's side window, I reached in and turned the key.

It worked!

But as the engine started, so did the Samurai. It had been left in gear!

I panicked. Less than ten feet away was the cinderblock wall of the building across the alley, and the Samurai was quickly headed straight for an action movie-style crash-through.

With a surprising rush of adrenaline, I grabbed the door frame with both hands and pulled hard as my feet slid on the alley's pea-sized gravel. I managed to temporarily hold the car back, but the engine was winning the battle. My mind raced for a solution.

Quick decision.

The Samurai lurched forward as I let go and swung open the door. I jumped in the moving vehicle, slammed on the brakes, and shut off the engine. The front bumper came to a stop a mere two feet from the wall.

I got out of the car and breathed a sigh of relief. But when I walked around front to push it back into the driveway, my heart stopped.

Gently pinned between the Samurai's bumper and the cinderblock wall was the toddler sitting on his Power-Wheels, completely unharmed.

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