Goofy Dad Stories (7) – The Cursed Car Top Carrier

Goofy Dad Stories (7) – The Cursed Car Top Carrier

Goofy Dad Stories (7) – The Cursed Car Top Carrier

It all started with a family vacation, driving from Northern Virginia to Rockford, Illinois. We packed our car top carrier full of suitcases, loaded up the station wagon, and the six of us headed for the Great Midwest. I bungee’d that carrier to the roof rack of our station wagon so well a typhoon couldn’t knock it off.

Everything went fine until we hit Rockford. We emptied all our suitcases out of the carrier at our hotel, the Sweden House Lodge. We didn’t know what else to do with our empty carrier, so we decided to bring it to my parents’ house nearby to store for the duration of the vacation.

A bizarre thing happened on the way to my parents. The empty carrier was bungee’d to the roof of course, when all of a sudden a strong gust of wind blew the carrier right off the roof, landing in the street immediately behind our car. After wondering what that strange noise was on the roof, I quickly looked at the rear view mirror and saw our carrier in the middle of the road, with lots of traffic behind carefully swerving around the carrier. I did a quick U-turn and drove back to retrieve the carrier when, lo and behold, I see a big travel van stop near the carrier, a skinny guy jumps out of the van, and he proceeds to put my carrier into his van. It then drove away without guilt or shame, apparently.

I immediately put my car in park, jumped out the driver side door, and chased after the absconding van, running fast, avoiding traffic, and yelling, “Give me back my car top carrier, you idiot!” After a short chase, the van increases speed and escapes down the road. I couldn’t believe it. Welcome to Rockford, my old home town.

I tried to explain what just happened when I arrived at my parents’ home, and I was met with skeptical looks at first, but then there was no choice but to believe me. The case of the stolen car top carrier.

No problem, I said, trying to encourage everyone. We’ll just go to Sears tomorrow and buy a new one. An unexpected vacation expense, for sure, but what choice did we have. So that’s what we did. We bought an almost identical carrier on sale, and everything looked rosy. All we had to do was put it together, assemble it with a few nuts and bolts, problem solved, piece of cake.

When vacation drew to a close, I decided to assemble the new carrier. The assembly directions looked simple enough, and I spread the parts on the floor and went to work. Apparently, they even left us a few extra nuts and bolts, I said after completing the chore. I was grateful. Good as new, ready to go.

We put the new carrier on the roof of our station wagon, filled it with dirty laundry and a few trifles, bungee’d it down, and we’re off to Virginia.

The next chapter in this story happened on busy Highway 90, a half-hour outside Rockford on the way to Chicago. I suddenly heard a familiar sound from the roof of the car, and learning from experience, looked immediately behind me on the road. Yes, there it was again, the carrier in the middle of the highway, only this time there was also dirty underwear spread across the road as well as the empty and dissembled carrier.

Truckers can be wonderful human beings. The huge semi immediately behind us saw everything as it developed, and slowed to a stop, effectively blocking the right lane of the highway. Quick thinking on his part enabled us to scramble out of the station wagon, retrieve the carrier, pick up the dirty laundry, and pull over to the side of the highway. The angelic trucker then put his semi in drive, increased his speed, and went on his way, tooting his horn in the process as he went merrily down the road.

Well, this is interesting. Maybe it turned out those extra bolts and nuts actually had a home in the fully assembled carrier after all. So on the side of the highway, we threw everything into the back of the station wagon, including the carrier, now in two pieces. Our son David had nowhere to sit with this new arrangement, so he was asked to sit inside the carrier as we made out way back to my parents’ house to more fully assemble the carrier. I distinctly remember the muffled voice of David inside the carrier, which is inside the car, as he said, “I’m fine. I’m all right. Don’t worry.” What a trooper.

Back in Rockford we completed the assembly, not triumphantly but somehow, and once again we were on our way, carrier full of stuff on the roof of our car, bungee’d as usual, with an additional rope or two, graciously provided by my father.

But that’s not the end of the story. We made it home safely without further incident, and years later we moved to North Carolina. We stored that same car top carrier in our garage. All was right in the world.

David decides to go to graduate school in Mobile, Alabama, and of course had to drive with all his belongings. I innocently offered to loan him the car top carrier for his trip, and he accepted the offer without hesitation, bless him. He filled the carrier, bungee’d it down on the roof of his car, and took off for the South. During that trip, somewhere on a busy highway, the luggage rack to which the carrier was bungee’d became partially unglued, and the carrier whipped off the top of the car, hanging on by a bungee cord and the very rear piece of metal on the roof rack. After hearing a strangely familiar sound, David looks in his mirror and notices the carrier bouncing off his roof into the back of his car, and then hanging there outside his rear window, bouncing, dancing, once again freed from the constraints of the car roof.

David immediately drove to the emergency lane on the left side of the highway, disengaged the carrier from the remaining bungee cord, and emptied the contents of the carrier into his car’s interior, somehow squishing things so it all fit. He then did a very smart thing… he took the cursed car top carrier, placed it at the side of the road, and drove away as if nothing had happened.

I often wonder whatever happened to that car top carrier. It’s got such history. I wonder if it’s still by the side of the road, or if some unlucky schmuck decided to pick it up and use it. I pity that person, I really do.


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