There was a girl who used to drive in an car all around town with a megaphone on the roof.
It was a unique sight. The vehicle wasn’t flashy, but somehow the make and model would change wherever she went. Maybe it was the light or time of day or location, but for whatever reason, sometimes it looked like it had been on the road for a while and sometimes it looked fresh off the lot. Aged and well worn one minute, with heavy doors, uncomfortable seats, and tinted windows, or it was state of the art the next, with LED lights, a sweet sound system, and even wifi! (within range, of course).
Depending on the hour it could be heard blaring a variety of music–classical, traditional, casual rock, and gospel. You could hear her coming from a mile away. That car was always jammin’.
Wherever she parked she’d turn down the music and get to work. Finding alleys without lighting and neighbors without bread. Taking clean water to the thirsty and bringing clean air to the city. With a physical touch for the ill and authentic interest in those often overlooked. Repairing bridges and removing fences. Carefully caring for people and planet.
Always a friend to whoever she met, ready to listen, respect, and accept. A star shining out in the full light of day.
It was good when she pulled into town and set her car into park. Most people liked having her around, and some even joined in with the good work. They didn’t know the whole story, but the actions spoke of something beyond themselves. No one paid much attention to the car or the megaphone on top of the roof, there was no need, her conversations were meaningful and inspiring, which was enough for them.
It wasn’t always a Sunday drive, there were others who were harsh, cruel, and obscene, making a scene wherever she’d go. It could be accusatory or downright violent, in the day or the night. The surprise was that it had a reverse affect, instead of draining her tank, it fueled the reach of the good work.
Her reputation had mixed reviews–an angel to the people, a demon to the powerful. Going to those who get in the way, an indirect revolution against those who threw them away. She lived a different way for a better world, no matter how the world felt about her.
Then they started to come. The town CEOs. They wanted to know what made her tick and why she didn’t submit, or at least roll over and play dead. They inspected her car from upholstery to locks, kicking tires and polishing mirrors. After the examination the most unexpected plot twist occurred–they made her a queen, offering her parking up front and as much gas as she wanted.
Now she was popular, and we k ow that rarely ends well.
As the years went by things just weren’t the same. The flare of the hustle started losing its luster. Like a slow leak in the tires things started to change. Maybe it was the price of gas or the mileage, late nights, and sore back. There were less stops in some parts of town and more bumper stickers to see as she drove through. The music seemed to blare louder and louder–like a substitute teacher trying to calm the crowd down.
The car would still stop, now don’t get me wrong, but the need, the plight, the number of people was so strong. It just wasn’t as frequent, and if she did, it wasn’t for more than a few minutes. “This burden is heavy,” she said as she threw up her hands, “and too hard on the soul of my feet.” It felt unmanageable and too thankless a job. It didn’t take long until she turned the megaphone on.
First a crackle, then a little feedback, but she quickly got used to the gadget. And what do you know, it felt wonderful!
She could just drive around town and tell people good news, she barely had to slow down. And that’s what she did, from highway to byway, interstates and avenues too. She went everywhere with one hand on the wheel and the other on the receiver. She didn’t have to stop anymore to make a believer.
The megaphone made the work easy, and her back started feeling better too. The funny thing was, the more she spoke the more she heard voices. They were quiet at first and easy to dismiss, but eventually they started to challenge and contradict what she said about that and this.
Like who should drive the car and who should be let in.
What color the floor mats should be and where to buy gas.
Where people are going and what music to play.
Who was correct and who was wrong, who was good and who wasn’t good enough.
What to affirm and what to ban.
And something about having the right doctors and lawyers and dogs, oh my!
How to use the megaphone and what should be said.
The car could care less, but did she really care about all these things more than the neighborhoods she parked in?
The good news became great news to some and bad news to others. A feast or a hard pill to swallow.
She became a guardian and she lost her first love to marry a megaphone–her goddess.
Just like the music, the voices grew louder and louder. No matter how hard she tried, the megaphone volume wouldn’t go past 10. The voices went up into the hundreds.
She was becoming paranoid and schizophrenic. A multiple personality dilemma developed. Whatever it was, she started ripping the car apart wheel by wheel. An effort to keep the car but get as far away from the megaphone as possible, but the megaphone just grew right out of the hubcap. With each tear she’d fall apart little by little. Taking her tire to a separate part of town. Burning bridges and building fences.
If a house divided cannot stand, a car divided can only take people to one angle of town.
The damage was done and the influence disabled. The past nearly forgotten. Except on clear nights when she’d walk home from her tire, seeing stars that reminded her of what she wanted truly to be.
Always shining, no matter if she stood out or not.
On one silent night while on the way home she laid on the sidewalk to get some time with the stars. In what felt like an eternity within the palm of a minute she was awoken by a man who looked like a mechanic. Mostly a silhouette in the first like of day, he was gruff and unshaven with a toothpick in his mouth, and what looked like oil all over his hands.
“I checked out your tire, if that’s what it is,” he said with the toothpick dangling from the edge of his lip, “and it’s not the problem. The megaphone is. It is mainly a symbol of what you’re supposed to be. Your actions are the megaphone, for your actions speak louder than any megaphone can. Your words hang in the balance of your actions.
“Your car’s not the messenger, you are. Don’t sacrifice the neighborhood on wiper fluid and antifreeze.”
With that he flicked his toothpick and walked toward the sunrise.
She stood there in his shadow, literally set free to decide between using the megaphone on the hub of the tire or being the megaphone throughout the town.
She who has ears.