Per usual, I checked the weather forecast before I went to bed last night. If storms are predicted, I’ll unplug my computer (thanks to horror stories about lightening strikes frying motherboards). Sure enough rain and scattered storms were predicted. Of course that brought to mind my comical fall a week and a half ago and I lay in bed giggling for awhile (again) before I finally fell asleep.
With me, one funny thought often leads to others, and it can take a significant amount of time before I finally head off to dreamland. One incident in particular has caused me to lose more sleep than almost anything else through the years.
I almost feel like I have to issue a warning here. Along the lines of a, ‘kids, don’t try this at home,’ kind of thing. So maybe I should just say that I was an idiot when I was nineteen and really hope no one else is that stupid.
Why was I an idiot? Well, because I felt, at the time, that there were priorities in life. And they didn’t include spending hard earned money on car insurance or repairs. At one point I was driving around on what amounted to nothing more than an inner tube. Seriously. I had to fill the ‘tire’ a couple of times a day, and when it was low I could press lightly on it and push it in with ease. Yes, it’s a miracle that I’m alive to mention it.
Brakes also weren’t a high priority, and that’s what this blog is about.
When people talk about their brakes being bad I’m fairly sure their definition differs greatly from my nineteen year old definition. My brakes were so bad I had to choose my routes carefully. If there was a stop sign ahead, I would have to pump the pedal furiously, starting at least half a block before I got there. Same thing for red lights. And if I had to sit there for more than two seconds, I would have to throw the shifter into park….because they wouldn’t hold.
That said, the rest of the story concerns my sister, who owned a truck with a clutch. I thought she was lucky because I’d always wanted to learn how to drive a vehicle with a clutch. It was just so much cooler than a standard shift vehicle (still is, actually). But she didn’t appreciate the coolness of the truck and begged me to let her drive my car one night when we needed to run an errand for our father. He owned an arcade and needed us to go to a nearby party store to ‘buy’ quarters (trade dollars for coins). It had been a busy night and we were running low.
Anyway, I explained to her what I just explained to you, and she assured me she understood. I kept insisting the brakes were too bad, but finally gave in, believing I’d made the situation crystal clear.
It was about a twelve mile drive and she’d done well enough that I stopped paying attention, which turned out to be a big mistake. As she was wheeling into the parking space at the store I heard a frantic, “Kristy! Kristy! The brakes! The brakes!”
And then it was up over the thick walkway, narrowly missing the electronic sliding glass doors…and an elderly couple. She didn’t miss the big trash can though. Nope. It crumpled like a piece of aluminum foil on impact. Of course the manager came running out to see what had crashed into his building.
Maybe I should mention here that when something scary happens, something that also strikes me as funny, I’m a goner. I’ll start laughing and it will be awhile before I can stop. Sometimes a long while.
As it happens, several scary things occurred in that moment. One she almost drove through a brick wall. Two, she almost killed, or seriously injured, that elderly couple. Three, the trash can was…well, trashed. And four, I wasn’t covered by car insurance.
It also struck me as hilarious because, as she was shouting, “Kristy! Kristy! The brakes! The brakes!” she sounded just like the little guy from Fantasy Island crying out, “The plane! The plane!”
And I lost it.
By the time the manager got to the car, which she’d quickly moved back to the parking space, I was laughing so hard I was crying. And I couldn’t stop. Not while we were discussing it in the office (with me apologizing repeatedly-not for hitting the store, but I couldn’t stop laughing). Not while the manager was explaining that there was no real harm done and he thought he could pound the dents out of the trash can. And not when my sister shot me a look that should have ended my life instantly…when I asked if we could buy the quarters from him (we were on a mission, after all).
Needless to say my sister decided she wanted no part of driving my car when we were finally let off the hook. So, shaking like a leaf I drove us to KFC where we could start to get a grip, and maybe calm down just a bit. But for the longest time I sat in the booth, still unable to get control of the laughter, while she sat there, head in her hands, moaning over and over, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that just happened.” I was so bad that I got another customer going. He just kept watching us and laughing, too.
So, all that to tell you that when I lay in bed at night, giggling over something, that memory never fails to come to mind, and all I can do is hope my kids don’t hear me. They already think I’m a nut most of the time.
I forgot to add that, when we’ve discussed that event through the years, we have a slight difference of opinion. I believe I made it very clear that the brakes were really bad. She, on the other hand, believes I didn’t actually have brakes. So not true! They were there…you just had to work hard to find them.