Trapped in an ice cream truck with his friend after skipping Sunday School, a young boy turns to prayer.
- Posted on Apr 26, 2020
“Today is no day to be cooped up,” I said to my friend Mel. The grin he gave me said he’d been thinking the same thing.
It was Sunday—a gorgeous Sunday in April. When I left the house that morning, I told Dad I was going to church for Sunday school—and I honestly planned on doing just that. Until I ran into Mel.
He was headed to the town’s junkyard to look for salvageable cars.
“Come on,” he said. “There’s hidden treasure in that old junkyard, and we’ll see it sparkle in this sunlight.”
I had never deliberately missed a Sunday in church, but I couldn’t recall a more beautiful spring day. A day full of promise. I happily tagged along.
Neither of us had a driver’s license yet, but that didn’t keep us from daydreaming of the day we would. I imagined us racing down back country roads, whooping and hollering, maybe a couple of girls in the car with us.
Just the idea of it was more exciting than Sunday school.
When we arrived, Zim’s Auto Salvage was deserted. Just me and Mel and heaps of rusty parts. I peeked inside the twisted metal frame of what used to be a car as we walked further through the maze of junk. It was so quiet, I couldn’t help but feel as if we shouldn’t be there, almost as if we were trespassing in a cemetery. If Mel felt the same way, he certainly didn’t act like it.
“Check out that one!” he shouted, pointing to a dented Ford Model A across the way. He ran over to inspect it, and I trailed behind him. The Ford wasn’t as beat up as most of the other cars in the yard, but it was still missing two wheels. We popped open the hood and discovered an empty space where the battery should have been.
“Let’s keep looking,” I suggested. Mel nodded and took off again, but my attention was caught by a large and boxy truck with something painted on its side. When I got closer, I could make out a faded cone. An ice cream truck!
Though it was partly dismantled and teetering at an angle, the refrigerated compartment was intact, the door to it hanging open. I thought of hot summer days when I had a few coins in my pocket and a hankering for something cold and sweet. So many times, I wished I could sneak into a truck like this and eat gallons and gallons of ice cream. The ice cream was long gone from this old truck, but here was the perfect opportunity to ﬁnally take a look.
I scrambled up, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness inside. It was bigger than I imagined, probably because most of the interior had been stripped for parts. But it wasn’t completely empty. In the corner were two tires. Maybe we could put these on the Ford? I thought.
“Hey, Mel!” I called out. “Come take a look!”
“What is it?” he asked. I heard him run over.
As Mel climbed inside, the truck shifted. There was a metallic groan, then…bang! We were plunged into darkness as the heavy metal door of the ice cream truck slammed shut. I stumbled over to it, trying to feel for a handle. All my hand found was a smooth surface. There was no handle. We were locked in! Desperately, I threw myself against the door, hoping to force it open. Mel joined in, but even with our combined weight, the door wouldn’t budge.
“We’re trapped!” Mel cried. “What are we going to do?”
We screamed for help, pounding on the door. I don’t know how long we called out—probably for only a few minutes, but it felt like hours. I thought back to how desolate the yard had been when we arrived. There was no one around to hear us. It was Sunday, after all. The earliest someone would be back would be Monday morning. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad wouldn’t even know where to look for me.
My eyes ﬁlled with tears as I thought about my brothers and my sister. We had always been close. My parents had instilled in us the importance of faith and prayer. “There’s nothing more powerful,” my father often said.
I had always depended on someone else to tell me when to pray, whether in church, at Sunday school or before meals. I never took the initiative. Until now. I clasped my hands together and bowed my head. Please, God, I want to see my family again. I’m sure there’s more for me to do in this life. And I’m sorry for skipping out of Sunday school this morning. If you get me out of this one, I promise I’ll never miss another Sunday again. Amen.
I waited anxiously, expecting someone, perhaps even an angel, to swiftly appear and open the door. No one arrived.
All along, Mel had been suspiciously quiet. He had probably come to the same grim realizations as I had. In the dark, I could just make out the shape of him. I took a few steps with my arm extended in front of me, intending to tap him on the shoulder, but my hand struck something that wasn’t Mel. Something wooden. It was a plywood partition that separated the refrigerated section from what I assumed was the cab of the truck.
Climb over it. It wasn’t a voice, but a sudden urge I couldn’t explain. I didn’t question it. There was about a foot-wide opening between the partition and the roof of the truck, it would be a tight squeeze, but it was possible. With some maneuvering, I was able to pull myself up and over it and drop down to the other side.
“What are you doing?” I heard Mel ask from the back.
This section of the truck was more cramped than the main compartment. There was a metal slab on the ﬂoor beside me. It was hefty, about three and a half feet long, six inches wide and an inch thick. When my ﬁngers completed the measurements, an idea ﬂashed through my mind.
“I found something!” I called to Mel. “We can use this metal slab as a battering ram,” I said once we had worked it over into the main compartment. “It just may be our only chance.”
Mel couldn’t argue with that. Together we lifted the piece of metal and placed it against the door. “Okay,” I said. “On the count of three. One… two…three!” Pulling back the metal, we swung it back again and again.
Clang! Clang! Clang!
After a few good blows, the door began to buckle. A few more and a sliver of sunlight cut through the darkness. With renewed hope and energy, Mel and I continued to pound at the door. With one ﬁnal smash, the latch snapped and the battered door swung open. The refrigerator compartment was ﬂooded with light. We dropped the piece of metal and jumped down from the ice cream truck. As I looked around at the trash and scrap piled in the mud of the junkyard, I smiled. I’d never seen a more beautiful sight. Yes, this was a day ﬁlled with promise, all right. A promise to live a life with prayer. Funny that skipping Sunday school taught me that.
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