The Big Red Lorry Parked in the Close
Sun, 02 Jun 2019
It was a Saturday afternoon in June when Sarah Tennyson heard a kerfuffle in the street outside her house.
Opening her front door she saw a big red lorry in the middle of the road, and three Mexican men standing beside it arguing.
'If only I'd paid attention in Spanish class, I could go over and find out what's going on' she thought, but as she had been an inattentive Spanish student she had no idea what any of the men were saying and decided to leave the argument to take it's course.
The lorry was still there later in the day, though there was no sign of the Mexicans. The lorry was blocking the road, meaning that Sarah was unable to drive to the store to get the things she needed. Unsure what to do she called on Brad next door.
"I can give you a lift to the store," Brad said. "I was out when the lorry arrived so I'm parked up the road."
"Can't we get it moved?"
"Sure, we can call the authorities, fill in the relevant forms, it'll take a couple of weeks though and it won't be easy to move now, everyone had to park at the top of the road because they couldn't get past the lorry, so to get it out we'd need everyone in the street to move their car."
"A couple of weeks! What am I going to do, I can't get my car out, not past that great truck."
"I don't mind taking you to the store and such, but you always leave to work well before me, so I can't help you with that."
"I could get my old bike out of the shed, I suppose. Work's only a couple of miles away."
Sarah didn't fancy cycling to work along the busy city streets, but after just a few minutes searching on Google she discovered that there were alleyways and cycle-paths she had no idea existed, leading from the back end of her street all the way to her work. Brad helped her oil her bike and check it was in full working order, he even found an old chain-style lock she could use. She was nervous about cycling again after so long, but it was actually quite straightforward and was actually quicker than driving through the one-way system at rush hour.
The big red lorry remained in the street. It turned out that Sarah's was the only car blocked in by the lorry, everyone else in the lower end of the Close had been lucky enough to be out that afternoon. As a consequence, all the neighbors were more than happy to offer lifts when she needed them. Mrs Patel took her to her dance class on Tuesday evenings, and even started coming with her (can you imagine! Mrs Patel dancing, of all people).
Then one day there was a knock on Sarah's door. She expected it to be one of the neighbors, these days everyone kept popping by to say they were going to the store and did she want anything, but it was a couple of strangers, a man and a woman, dressed in sales-rep suits and smiles.
"Sarah Tennyson?" asked the man.
"Yes," she said, "But I should warn you I don't buy from cold callers."
"We're not here to sell you anything Ms Tennyson, we're from the Disadvantaged By Abandoned Vehicles Trust. We were sent your details by a neighbor, and you meet the criteria for one of our Inconvenienced By A Red Lorry Awards."
"Oh, I don't need charity, thank you," Sarah said. "Everyone's been really kind and I get everything I need just fine."
"You haven't met the Award," said the man, "You'll change your mind when you do." As he spoke he stepped to the side, to reveal a golden retriever, about two years old.
"This is Nero," said the woman. "He's fully house trained, no worries there."
"A dog?" said Sarah. "I can't possibly keep a dog, I don't mean to sound ungrateful but the costs add up, vetinary bills, food, kennels when I'm away."
"Which is why the Inconvenienced By A Red Lorry Award comes with a $10,000 grant." So saying, the woman handed over a suitcase containing $10,000 dollars in used 10 dollar bills.
"I'll build you a kennel, well I'll build Nero a kennel," Brad said when she told him about the strange bequest. "I know a guy got a bunch of wood I could use."
At first Nero was another unexpected disruption to Sarah's life, she had to fit in daily walks and dog feeds, as well as the initial kerfuffle of purchasing dog baskets, toys, blankets, bowls, leads, organizing insurance and getting Nero added to the local vetinarian's client list. But once Nero had settled in, she was soon immensely fond of him, in fact she couldn't imagine life without him.
Walking the dog gave Sarah a new view of the city. People who would have walked past her saying nothing suddenly stopped to pat the dog and say hello. What with one thing and another, her social life had changed completely; there were the fellow cyclists she'd got to know at work, the dog owners she met in the park, and of course the neighbors, most of whom she spoke to every day now. The abandoned lorry was the best thing that ever happened to her.
But then, one Saturday morning, she woke up to find that the lorry had gone.
"The authorities finally got round to taking it," Brad said, when she went round later that morning for a coffee and a chat.
"I can't believe it, I've got my car back," Sarah said.
"Yes," said Brad, "You've got your life back."
"I wouldn't say that," Sarah said. "In fact in some ways my life never really started until that lorry appeared."