January 13, 2012

Flashback Friday--Baby It's Cold Outside

I got an estimate on fixing some of the problems with Suzy and was informed that it would cost a small fortune to get her running right again. Big surprise there. It was to be expected after all. I am a serial auto mutilator. I go through cars faster than most people go through cellphones. I have shoes that I've owned longer than I've owned any one particular car. Heck, I have underwear that outlasts my cars. But, again, it's not my fault. I blame it all on Murphy.

For most of my life, my dad has worked from home doing paint and body work on cars and has long been active at car shows and race tracks. Given all that, he has had an assortment of cars throughout the years. Most were just utility vehicles used to shuttle us girls back and forth to school, activities and friends' houses--vehicles to get my daddy to the paint supply store or over to check on his mom. But some of those cars were there just for the joy of owning the car. They may not have been practical as a family car but they sure were nice to drive and usually even nicer to look at.

I didn't get my driver's license until I was 18, but my career in car abuse began long before I was ever old enough to get behind the wheel or have my own car. The first auto injury I can remember inflicting happened in the 5th grade. At the time, my daddy had one of his "nice to look at" cars. It was a 1965 Chevy Impala. Convertible. It was blue with a black top. A convertible isn't all that practical in WA given that you can only take the top down for about 2 days out of the year but that didn't matter. It was a beautiful car.

I remember one cold winter morning, we were rushing off to school--my mom driving us in the Impala. I happen to have a really bad habit, one my mom has spent precious time and oxygen scolding me about. I have a habit of slamming doors shut. I can't say exactly why I feel the need to shut doors with such force. Maybe I figure if I slam it shut, I guarantee I won't have to come back and do it again. Maybe it's an after thought as I'm already rushing off to something else. Who knows? The point is, I'm hard on a door.

This particular morning was a see-your-own-breath kind of morning--it was cold. We pulled up in front of the school in the pristine blue Impala. My younger sister scrambled out first and took off for her class. I tumbled out next, poked my head in the car to say goodbye to my mom and then reached for the door. I gave it a good swing just as my mom's fateful words carried across the bench seat to my ears. "Don't slam the---"

What happened next was a phenomenon that up to this point I wasn't aware could even occur. It turns out that if tempered glass gets cold enough and is then hit with enough force, it breaks. When that door shut, the passenger window just shattered and thousands of graules of glass went flying. I just stood there slack-jawed, shocked at the fact that I had just destroyed the window of my dad's car.
Then, standing amidst a puddle of broken, frozen glass, I broke into tears. My mom was kind enough to not lecture me at that point, she just urged me to get to class before I was late.

I was still crying when I got to class but, after dumping all my guilt and fear on my teacher, I was soon able to calm down enough to participate in class. The thing about guilt is that sometimes it can eat away at you better than any punishment. I worried all day about what my dad was going to say to me. What was going to happen to me for breaking my daddy's car window? Was I going to have to pay for it? Would I be forever subject to a lecture on why we NEVER slam doors? Were my parents right now sitting at home conjuring up a punishment worthy of my crime?

It was with utter dread that I stepped off the bus that afternoon and walked into the house to face my parents. I think they saw the sheer terror on my face and took pity on me. I did get a lecture but that was it. I apologized up and down and I don't doubt that (at the time) I swore I would never again slam another door as long as I lived.

That lasted until I actually had to close one. I'm still slamming them to this day. Sorry mom!

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