Sharing the Burden

I consider myself to be a modern and progressive woman, fully capable of accomplishing most anything. I have a college degree and work in a male-dominated technical field. I am the primary bread winner while my husband is the stay-at-home parent.

I’ve always had the attitude that I can do anything a man can do. In fact, as a kid, I used to try (repeatedly) to pee standing in front of the toilet. As a teenager, when a boy offered his hand as I climbed down off a rock, instead of viewing that as an opportunity to strike up a conversation with a cute guy, I glared at him and haughtily announced that I could get down by myself.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that when I married my high school sweetheart, I married a very capable man. And since I’ve been married to him for my entire adult life, I have become accustomed to him always taking care of certain things.

Driving is one of them. If he’s in the car, he’s usually driving. He’s better, safer, and likes it more. As he’s getting older, he seems to want me to share the burden but I’ve come to enjoy my chauffeured status and tend to resist at every opportunity.

Driving with a trailer or a serious load in the truck bed is a no-brainer. I flat-out refuse to pull the trailer. I find the entire experience too nerve-wracking. And besides, he’s impressively good. He’s had a commercial driver’s license before. He can back a school bus into a narrow parking space with buses on either side. I’m doing good to attempt the same with the Prius.

Tying stuff down in the back of a pick-up truck is another one. He remembers all the right knots and how to tie them. He’s also stronger and thus able to ratchet stuff down better. I’ve become so accustomed to his competency in this matter, that I’ve become complacent, simply standing near the truck and handing him whatever he asks for or holding whatever he tells me to hold.

This had disastrous results earlier this year when we loaded our propane grill into the back of the truck to take to church for a cook-out. He made no move to tie it down. I had a niggling thought in the back of my mind that I should perhaps suggest doing so but then dismissed it. He knows what he’s doing. Less than two miles down the road, I found myself helping him chase down pieces of our former grill after it did a spectacular back flip over the tailgate.

And so we come to today. We had had a very busy weekend, pieces of which will likely be blogged about soon. Since we would be in southern Oklahoma on Saturday, we decided to take the opportunity to run up to the Oklahoma City area with the truck. My mom recently moved into a new house and her old refrigerator (which we love) wouldn’t fit in the new kitchen. She had offered to sell it to us and also give us the grill the previous owners had left behind.

There was just one problem. My husband woke up Sunday morning with vertigo. He then took some Sudafed on an empty stomach and that caused him to throw up. Mom, her boyfriend, my husband’s dad, and I all worked together to get the truck loaded. He spent the day in bed and when it was finally time to leave, it was obvious that he wouldn’t be driving.

I climbed behind the wheel and nervously pulled out of the driveway. My shoulders were tense and I checked the mirrors constantly. I was going to need a good table massage if I stayed this tense for the entire trip.

The first stop occurred before I made it to the highway. The tie-down strap across the fridge had a long loose end blowing around. I hopped out and tied it to itself, feeling a tiny bit pleased with myself.

The second stop occurred a few miles down the highway when I noticed that the grill cover looked like it was fraying. Sure enough, it was ripped to shreds. My husband couldn’t stand so I asked Jane to help me.

First, I retrieved a tarp and covered the grill. Then I grabbed another tie-down and wrapped it as tight as I could around the grill, pushing my feet against the tires to get it tighter. Finally, I found some bungee cords and used them to secure the tarp corners by the grommets. It wasn’t a great job, but it felt adequate.

The third stop occurred very quickly after the second. I had moved the little gas can in the back and forgotten to secure it back down. I pulled over as soon as I saw it fly out the back. My husband seemed flustered about the fact that I was stopping again.

“How badly do you want the gas can?” I asked. “I’ll have to walk back and get it.”

He said he wanted it but we got crosswise with each other. He was sick and weak. I was tense and flustered. Some F-bombs were dropped. Yes, in front of the kids. I trotted back about a hundred yards to the can, moving through tall, itchy grass. By the time I got back, my legs were itching almost as much as my poison-ivy covered arms that had been scratched during the emergency tie-down of the grill tarp (busy weekend, remember?).

My husband took the opportunity to crawl weakly from the truck to check the tie-downs. He expressed a wish for another tie-down to put around the fridge. I pointed to the one around the grill and said that I had used the last one.

“That’s not a tie-down,” he said. “That’s a tow strap.”

“Oh. Well, that would certainly explain why it was so stiff and difficult to work with!”

The fourth stop came after I worried over the loose corner of the tarp flapping on my side. The last bungee cord was put to good use then. I also removed the airport baggage claim tag from the suitcase that kept masquerading as a floppy strap-like thing I should worry about.

The fifth stop was because I noticed that the fridge had slid away from the back of the cab. A folded cardboard box had been used to protect it from rubbing against the truck but it was now flopping around. We investigated but decided it would be ok. At least for now.

By the sixth time I pulled over, he was asking “what now?!” The strap over the fridge had just come loose and I watched the heavy metal ratcheting device plummet over the side of the truck.

“I’m afraid I’m going to need your help on this one,” I said. I never have been able to master those devices.

After that stop, I actually began to relax. We stopped once more, this time for food and a potty break. My husband was starting to feel better. He didn’t get dizzy when he turned his head. He offered to drive the last hour.

I said that surely I was a better choice than someone who might still get dizzy and finished the trip, even though I really, really wanted to sit in the passenger seat and play Candy Crush. Hopefully this trip earned me some credit. Surely he’ll drive all the way to Denver next month without expecting me to spend any time behind the wheel. Right?