Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Have the Worst Luck with Cars, Part I: It Begins

I really, REALLY do. And not just cars. Any type of vehicle. I even ruined one of my dad's ATVs that he actually uses for legitimate purposes on his 700 or however many acres he has in Bumfuck West.

Other than my Very First Ever Car, Gladys, a 1995 Buick Century that I got from my grandmother and only because she couldn't see to drive anymore, every piece of transportation I've had has been some sort of death trap. And it's not like I don't treat them well. I make sure the oil is changed every 3000 - 5000 miles, depending on whether or not I use conventional or full synthetic and on how much I drive it. I get the tires balanced.

The first car I bought with my own money was purchased out of necessity. I had recently given my parents the middle finger - we have both agreed to disagree about the merits of such a middle finger - and needed transportation to and from work. I poured through the classifieds, as Craigslist wasn't used as much back then. God, it was only 2003 and I'm making sound like this was back in, like, 1992. I came across an ad for a 1987 Ford Escort hatchback, tan in color, and only $600, being sold by a couple who was about to have a baby and were looking to get a more reliable, er, bigger vehicle. It's an automatic, which made me happy since the boyfriend I had at the time had refused to teach me how to drive a stick (Three eventually taught me last year). I took it for a test drive and came back satisfied.

For those of you who know me, I name everything that I use on a regular basis. My iPhone is Rosemary, my soon-to-be-deceased Macbook is Pfiona, etc. After about a day, I knew what I was going to call her: Spaz. Why? Oh, well, because every time you stopped, the car turned off. Completely. You had to remove the key from the ignition, put it back in, and start all over; rinse, repeat every time you came to a stop light, stop sign, yield sign, what have you. It was annoying at first but became a fun sort of game between me and Murfreesboro cops. I got pulled over a lot for running stop signs but would explain that I didn't really have any other choice. Honestly, the car was a complete piece of shit and I shouldn't have paid even $400 for it. It was kept together with bubblegum and happy thoughts. Also, she had a little bit of trouble getting above 55 mph, which will come into play later.

Then came a fateful day in August 2003, only a few months after I purchased Spaz. A friend of mine invited me over to watch a movie, and I hopped on the interstate after my mother* bought me nearly $150 in groceries. I think it was $137.42, if my oddly precise memory from that days serves me correctly. And remember above where I said Spaz was kinda iffy above 55 mph? Well, here's where THAT comes in. I was driving at 50 mph in the far right lane and noticed that 1) there was a pickup truck riding my ass; 2) there was a white semi on my left; and 3) there was another semi coming up the on ramp at a speed that was off putting (and by off putting, I mean absolutely shit-your-pants terrifying). So I had two choices: I could slam on my breaks and get rear-ended by the pickup truck or I could speed up and try to get in front of the white semi. I, for some reason, chose the latter. Now, remember, I was already going 50, and as soon as I pushed the gas pedal, she was already complaining, the whiny bitch. The car was shaking, you guys. SHAKING. And the other semi was barreling toward me and then? I just kind of black out.

I have no idea what happened after that. At least until I suddenly regain consciousness or something to find myself, white knuckled, holding onto my steering wheel and screaming at the top of my lungs. There's broken glass EVERYWHERE and the only thing I can really think about is, "OMG MY GROCERIES." I hear this tap on my window, and I'm pretty sure it's Death, come to take me home. Instead, it's a guy, telling me that I should probably get out of my car. At this point, I'm still not sure he's not actually Death, but I hesitantly get out, just then noticing that I am on the other side of four lanes of traffic, less than a few inches away from the median. And Spaz? Well, she's no longer a hatchback. More of a ... hatch, I guess. I notice that the majority of my food - my precious, precious food - has been smooshed beyond repair. The rice has spilled out of the box, and several cans splooshed their innards all over the back seat, or what was left of it. I started to cry and turned my head away, only to catch a glimpse of a small bag in the middle of the road - which may I mind you is still the interstate?

By this time, the paramedics had arrived and they're checking me out. The driver of the white semi had pulled over and was offering me cigarettes, even when the EMT lady was like, "Dude, that's the last thing she needs." The other semi driver? Yeah, we don't know where he went, but the other guy - the one I thought was Death - who was also the asshole who was tailgating me had taken down his license plate number and had given it to police officers at the scene. Of course, my mind wasn't on anything except the bag in the middle of I-40.

My favorite food in the world is plums. I don't think anything could make me happier than biting down on a juicy plum. And my mom had bought me three of them. And there they were, unharmed, laying in the middle of the road. In oncoming traffic, which apparently didn't matter to me at the time? I start wandering out that way, and one EMT notices and grabs me with this "the fuck are you doing" look on his face. This is when I just lose it. Shock is a bitch, you guys.

Now, I didn't call my mom. Sure, I did contact her a day or so later, much to her disappointment. I think she's still a little hurt, even now. I called my friend that I was going to see. I cannot explain this, even to this day. Maybe the sheer trauma just had me thinking, "Okay, what was I doing? Oh, that's right!" Or maybe I was ashamed? I honestly don't know. He and his mom came to help me gather what was left of my groceries. The EMTs tried to take me to a hospital, but with both of my parents being in the medical field and knowing that I didn't have health insurance? Yeah, I declined. What's funny is, they kept on saying how they just knew they would find a dead body inside that car. Okay, maybe that's not so funny, at least in the humorous way. But I ended up with some pretty harsh whiplash and a bruised knee. That's it.

And really? This isn't even the last time that I've survived something that causes most people to look at me as though I'm some type of immortal. Meh, it's the Jupiter in my star chart. Go figure.

* We had started to patch up our relationship at this point, and this was kind of a goodwill gesture from her.
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