04/18/04 — Life and death: What keeps us straight as we go down the road?

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Life and death: What keeps us straight as we go down the road?

It’s a tired old cliché: “It could have been worse.” Sometimes we are awed to think what power it might have been that kept it from being worse.

Atlas Price had such an experience on a recent Saturday.

Price lives at Seven Springs. He is retired, but during the week he stays pretty busy doing things that are related to being a county commissioner. He saves some work around the house for Saturdays, just as he did before retirement.

On this particular Saturday, Price had errands to do in Mount Olive. They involved hauling a lawnmower, so Price drove his everyday pickup truck. It’s a 1985 model, the kind of pickup that you don’t mind getting banged up a little, as distinguished from his Sunday-go-to-meeting pickup.

As Price started out the door, his wife, Carolyn, gave him another errand. Stop by the feed store and get dog food, she said.

Price went to Mount Olive and picked up his lawnmower and a few other things, but the dog food slipped his mind until he was driving out of town. When he remembered it, he turned the old pickup around, drove to the feed store, and went in and made his purchase.

When he started to leave the parking lot, the pickup wouldn’t go. It would crank all right, and it acted like it wanted to go, but it just didn’t seem to be able to move.

No problems were apparent under the hood, but Price noticed something else. The front wheels were turned in opposite directions.

A tie rod was loose.

Tie rods are a critical part of an automobile’s steering mechanism. They connect the steering linkage to the wheels. Without them, the wheels are independent of the steering wheel. The driver can turn the steering wheel all he wants to, but it won’t turn the car. The drive will end in disaster.

In Price’s story, there are a lot of ifs.

If the tie rod had come loose at full speed, the truck would have wrecked.

If Mrs. Price hadn’t asked for the dog food, Price wouldn’t have pulled into the parking lot.

If Price hadn’t remembered the dog food on the way home and turned around, the wheels would have gone out of control.

What keeps a car safely on the road can be as important as life and death.

What keeps us from going off-course along the road of life is just as critical. It is our moral and spiritual tie rods.


Published in Editorials on April 18, 2004 12:39 AM