I was an idiot when I was eighteen and nineteen. Seriously. I was.
Why? Because my priorities were a little skewed. They certainly didn’t include spending hard earned money on car insurance – or ‘unnecessary’ repairs. Looking back, it’s a miracle I’m still here.
When people talk about bad brakes, their definition is probably different than mine used to be. Mine were so bad at one point, I had to choose my routes carefully. Stop signs meant I had to start pumping the pedal – hard – 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.
That explained, the rest of this story concerns my sister, who didn’t appreciate her truck – with a clutch. It was so much cooler than my ugly standard shift. But she didn’t appreciate the coolness of the truck and begged me to let her drive my car one night. Our dad owned an arcade, having run out of quarters, we needed to run to a nearby party store to trade dollars for coins.
I explained to her how bad the brakes were, and she assured me she understood. I kept insisting they were too bad, but finally gave in, believing I’d made the situation crystal clear.
She’d done well enough during the twelve mile drive 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!” I swear to God she sounded like Tattoo on Fantasy Island (The plane! The plane!).
And then it was up over the high concrete 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 that when something scary happens, something that also strikes me as funny, I’m a goner. I’ll start laughing and it will be a while before I can stop. Sometimes a long while. That situation covered all those basis. Almost driving through the store. Almost killing the couple. Trashing the trash can. And the icing on the cake? No car insurance.
I lost it. Totally 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 building, but because 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 … after I asked if we could still do the trade for quarters.
It’s a great memory, and one that has kept me awake many times … giggling when I should have been sleeping. But reminiscing about it through the years, I discovered my sister and I have a slight difference of opinion over the experience. I believe I made it clear the brakes were bad. 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.
Note: I did wise up and started keeping my car insured not long after that. 🙂