Wandering Wagon: Putting in that extra ounce of effort

Guest post by Shawn Van Osch (Kingsbridge, Ontario)

How many times in a day do you rush through your routines? Maybe you’re in a hurry or maybe you’re just bored of doing the same old thing for the thousandth time and just can’t be bothered to care. This is a story about three brothers who just couldn’t be troubled to put in that extra ounce of effort. For the sake of anonymity let’s call them Luke, Mark, and Shawn Van Osch.

Mark, Luke and Shawn: Older now, but rest assured, no wiser. Their Mom, Bridget, on the right.

At a young age we three boys had started a small landscaping business along the shores of Lake Huron, catering to the many cottagers in their summer homes surrounding our homestead. Over the years our little company grew so that we spent almost every summer day traversing the gravel roads between farmers’ fields that led to our source of seasonal wealth.

It was on a particularly beautiful day, on a particularly dusty road, driving a particularly antiquated station wagon and hauling a particularly heavy load of lawnmowers, gas and accessories in a particularly particular wagon that we learned this particular lesson.

As the only one old enough to drive, Luke was behind the wheel, towing the wagon behind us. And, by invoking the right of shotgun, I was seated across from him in the passenger seat, leaving Mark alone in the back. Cruising along with freshly plowed fields on either side, we were so engrossed in what was undoubtedly witty and entertaining banter that we hardly notice the jarring bump.

It remains unclear who was the first to notice it out of the corner of his eye. But it took only moments for all three of us to become entirely fixated on the event of cartoonish proportions unfolding next to us.

We were being passed!

On this narrow agricultural highway someone had pulled off into the field. Spraying up clouds of dust and dirt, they steadily advanced upon, and promptly passed, the station wagon. Things got even more bizarre when we took a closer look. The vehicle passing us had no driver. No passengers either. In fact there were no windows, no doors, no roof, no headlights, nor an engine of any kind.

It was our wagon.

If it could be said that anything was guiding that wagon, it was fate. Or perhaps that old riding mower that, for all its modesty, I swear would have nodded and tipped its hat to us if it could have as it went driving by. Whether it was fate, God or that old mower, one of them steered that wagon gracefully to rest while keeping the tongue from digging into the ground, which would have comedically, but devastatingly, launched all our equipment though the air.

By sheer luck we narrowly avoided destroying all of our company’s assets as well as possible harm to ourselves. But the whole situation could have been prevented had we listened to our father and made sure we attached the safety chains. We had used the chains hundreds of times before (and most definitely every time since), but just couldn’t be bothered this one time. As a result there was nothing to hold the wagon in place when that nasty bump knocked it free of its hitch and into the field.

Moral of the story: Getting lax in your routines may not end in catastrophe. You may just be mildly inconvenienced. And in many cases these mishaps end in hilarious hijinks. But life can be so much easier, smoother and yes, sometimes safer, when you put just an extra ounce of effort and care in your daily routine. Our experience with our wandering wagon was a good reminder of this.

Got a lesson you learned from one of life’s absurd moments that you want to share? Click here to submit your story.

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Funny stories. Good advice. Check out my books, “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” and “Balancing Priorities and Prioritizing Balance”. Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.

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