Driving the Duck
by Victoria Krumholtz

        “Hurry up, Dad,” I yelled as we raced down the street and swerved into the nearest open parking spot.  Just a few minutes earlier, my Dad had suggested we take a ride on the Duck. The Duck is a large yellow boat on wheels that is mobile on both land and water. It used to be an Army vehicle but is now used for tourism. 

    Almost as soon as the car stopped we were out of our Saturn and running to the ticket booth.  We grabbed our tickets and headed for the Duck just in time to see the workmen putting up the little fold down stairs. “Wait for us” my mom yelled as we stepped up behind them. “Sorry ma’am but it’s full.  You could wait for the next ride or you could sit in the back,” he said. “Sitting in the back is fine with us,” my mom replied calmly. “Then hop on in,” he said smiling.  And that’s exactly what we did!

      I reached out for the railing and began hoisting myself up over the steps and onto the Duck’s floor followed by my parents. Once on the Duck I took a good look around taking in all the rows of benches and all the people sitting in the benches. At first I was a little confused.  All the benches were full.  Where were we supposed to sit? Then I saw them - two little, itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow benches that I saw for the first time today.  We took our seats, my dad sitting on the right bench while my mom and I were wedged into the left one. “Everyone seated?” the duck driver asked. “Yes,” we all yelled back in a chorus of altos, sopranos, and baritones. “Alright, then lets get rolling” he said as he turned around and took his seat behind the wheel. “Vroom vroom” the engine started up and we were off sailing through the city along the river’s edge. The scenery was wonderful and we had a great time listening to the driver tell us about all the fun landmarks. Then suddenly we turned on to a dirt path surrounded by trees whipping our faces and bump bump bumping down the road toward the water. “When we go into the water lift up your feet if you don’t want your shoes soaked” the driver yelled back to us. I had no idea what he meant and I had no time to ask for suddenly “Bam!”

        We hit the water; I almost flew out of my set except my mom was holding on to me for dear life. I was sitting there dumb-founded when I began to feel water soaking into my shoes. I looked down to see two inches of water swishing about on deck. I quickly pulled my legs up to my chest, wrapping my arms around my knees, letting my shoes “Drip drip” onto the deck. (I finally understood what he meant when he said “When we go into the water lift up your feet if you don’t want your shoes soaked.”) My shoes finally dried off and I put my feet back on deck. Meanwhile the Duck just floated gently down the stream. For a while we just watched the passing cars and trees talking amongst ourselves. Until the driver called out, “Anyone who wants to drive the duck raise your hand.” I was so excited! I could not believe he was offering us this chance, I didn’t know if he was telling the truth or just playing around. “Does he mean it?” I asked incredulously. “Raise your hand and find out” my mom said smiling back. “I guess I could,” I whispered as my hand slowly rose up into the air. “Ok, let’s have a look.  Who wants to drive?” he asked again. My hand was still the only one up. “You in the back, come on up!” he yelled, gesturing for me to come forward. I stood up shaking from head to toe; I think I even broke out in a sweat. All the heads turned to stare as I walked down the aisle. You should know I’m not the shyest person in the world but in that one moment I wished so hard that this was all a dream and I’d wake up in my bedroom, the light streaming through the window onto my bed. But it didn’t and I finished my walk down the aisle stopping in front of the driver. I had to lean my head way back to see his face. It wasn’t that he was supernaturally tall, he was just kind of portly in the middle, kind of like an extra large bag of popped popcorn. He smiled down at me “Do you know how to drive a car?” he asked. “No” I whispered. “Well, just sit down in the driver’s seat and steer using the wheel,” he replied. “Ok,” I said shrugging my shoulders. I mean, come on, how hard could it be? I had seen my mom and dad drive like a million bazillion times. I was so wrong.  He apparently forgot to warn me that the wheel was connected to the rudder. The rudder is what steers the Duck through the water. Before I could ask any more questions about steering the boat he started lecturing about the Duck and the river we were riding in.   I was too afraid to steer so I just let my hands rest on the smooth shiny leather.  When I looked up again, to my surprise, we were veering off our straight course in the river and heading straight for land.  I grabbed the wheel and twisted it as far as it would go in the other direction.  We turned away from the land and headed calmly back to our path.  But instead of going straight once again we kept going around, and around, and around in circles.  Everybody burst out laughing.  I was so embarrassed.  My face turned bright red and I looked like a gigantic tomato on legs.  The driver stopped mid-lecture and ran back over to help us get back on course.  As soon as I saw his hands were on the wheel I got up and walked quickly back to my parents.  I know I said it made me really embarrassed, but in all it was a fun experience and I’d like to go back and try driving the Duck again.

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