During my college years, my financial limitations confined me to the ownership of an ancient, and admittedly dilapidated, Volkswagen Bug—a vehicle that showcased more flaws than functionality. Its brakes, clutch, and transmission teetered on the brink of useless, a mere step away from being relegated to the junkyard.
One fateful night, as I cruised along the rain-soaked New Jersey turnpike, an unremitting downpour transformed the world outside into an oblivion of cascading water. My feeble windshield wipers struggled to contend with nature’s sudden, almost-violent onslaught.
I retreated to the slow lane, joining the lumbering 14-wheeler tractor trailers, matching their pace. The monotony of the journey, coupled with the rhythmic syntax of the wipers’ clickety-clack, began to lull me into a drowsy state. Occasionally, mammoth semis would overtake me one lane over, casting torrents of water that engulfed my struggling little vehicle in their wake.
Just after my windshield had been treated to a shower from another passing truck, an abrupt cry pierced the air, tearing me from my daze. “Stop!” my nonexistent passenger yelled.
Overwhelmed by panic, I instinctively slammed on the brakes, bringing my vehicle to an abrupt halt. Unable to discern anything as I tried to peer through the watery veil, I anxiously held my breath momentarily. As clarity emerged, I could make out the looming mass of a colossal truck looming in the darkness—motionless—a mere three feet from my front bumper.
It turned out the truck had suffered a mechanical failure, leaving it shrouded in darkness with neither lights nor a functioning engine. Devoid of tail lights, it would have been my unfortunate fate to collide into it at a speed of 50 miles per hour on the rain-soaked roads had my ethereal passenger not screamed the life-saving command. With their rear-mounted engines, Volkswagens also possess a vulnerable front compartment that crumples upon impact. The odds of my survival would have been bleak.
Shaken, I stared at the immobilized truck, overcome by a sense of awe and gratitude. I turned my gaze towards the passenger seat, only to find it empty—as I knew it surely was on my solitary journey.
Even now, the enigma of this experience eludes me. The voice resonated with clarity, despite the absence of any physical presence. I also simply entrusted my life to its command, and it delivered me from harm’s path. From that day to this one, I have never felt alone in the vast expanse of our caring universe.