I must have been 19 when I took this trip with my dad. We were on our way to Los Angeles. To prep for the one hour trip, I remembered to grab a small cotton hand towel to dry my hands. I don’t like the feel of moist hands, especially when I drive. About 25-30 minutes into the drive, my hands began to feel a little moist. With one hand on the steering wheel, I reached down for the towel with my left hand. Just a quick rub on the cotton towel. No big deal. We were moving close to 70 mph, but I didn’t need to shift my eyes from the road to reach for the towel.
One hand down, so I switched hands and reached down for the towel with the other, holding the wheel again with one hand. But there was something in the way this time. Something prickly and pointy blocked my hand from the towel. Maybe it was a dry leaf? I thought to myself. Again, I reached down and tried to move it out of the way, but it didn’t seem to budge. I reached for the towel third time, this time with a quick glance. I felt hard and thorny edges reaching out to my fingers.
One look and I gasped deeply before letting out, “Ahhh!” The scream pushed out of my mouth at the sight of it, catching my dad’s attention. It was only a glance, but long enough for me to see the tiny monster fighting my fingers off with all of its might. I heaved in and out my breaths, fighting the fear that it would crawl up the front of my blouse and into my hair. All I wanted to do was jump up out of the car and get away from it, but I couldn’t. I was driving 70 mph on the freeway.
My gasping turned into panic and I struggled to catch my breath. My hand jerked back and away from the towel, away from the tiny monster that was now looking up at me with disdain. My other hand swerved the wheel, causing the car to swerve along with it. It was a small swerve, but at 70 mph, dangerous.
“The wheel… take the wheel… con las dos manos,” ordered my father in a firm and calm voice. The sound of his voice snapped me back into focus. I took the wheel firmly with both hands, trying to ignore the thing still clawing at me from my lap. I forced myself to focus on driving, working to breathe again.
My dad reached out and scooped the towel up from my lap, folding the creature inside of it, and removing it from sight. “It’s gone... Just focus on the road,” he reminded me.
I gripped the wheel tight with my sweaty palms, working hard to gather myself. My breathing began to slow back to normal. With the terrifying invader now gone, I focused on driving for the remainder of the trip. We made it to our destination without any other unexpected hitchhikers. My dad… he didn’t speak another word until we made it home. He kept the situation, a possible dangerous moment, calm. He saved us.
That little green June beetle (that seemed not so little at the time) was set free once our trip ended. My dad managed to save him as well.