Running Across The Six Lanes Of I-80

We lived a mile from Auburn, CA, when I went to Placer High School (10-12th grade). I liked to shorten my journey home by running across the six lanes of Interstate 80 through the middle of town.

When my father found out, he forbade me from doing that. He said it was dangerous. He said I should take the overpass.

I said OK. I always said OK at home. I didn’t like conflict. And I always loved shortcuts.

Despite having given my word that I would stop running across the freeway, I kept running across the freeway. One afternoon the CHP stopped me. They put me in the back of their car and they drove me home. They asked to speak to my father.

My father was in the back yard cleaning up. I was scared as I walked up to him and said, “There are policemen who want to talk to you. They caught me running across the freeway.”

They only spoke to my dad for a minute. He thanked them. They drove off. He turned to me and said something like this. “I don’t think I need to say anything. I think you’ve learned your lesson.”

He was right. I never ran across I-80 again.

In 12th grade, I was learning to drive. Coming home from church one Sabbath afternoon, I pulled out in front of a motorcyclist. He skidded to a stop, coming off his bike. He wasn’t hurt. He was upset.

I noticed he had a collection of girlie magazines on the back of his bike. He was a dirty old man.

My parents profusely apologized to him. My dad stuffed about $80 in the man’s pocket. Then the man drove off. My parents had me drive home. They wanted me to get back on that horse.

I often had a problem with judgment on when to pull out in front of on-coming traffic. I thought I could do it one night in 1996, trying to cross three lanes of Santa Monica Blvd west-bound to turn left and travel east-bound. I think the SUV was speeding. It just hit the last couple of feet of my van. According to my insurance, it cost them about $16,000 to fix him up. It was my fault.

Throughout my life, I’ve tried to get away with everything I thought I could get away with. Some things I learned from my parents to stop doing, such as running across freeways. Other things I only partially learned. Many things I’ve yet to learn.

I wonder if I think as much about the things I am grateful for as I do about the things I didn’t like?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
This entry was posted in Personal. Bookmark the permalink.