Easting My Dust: Episode II
Thursday, September 20, 2012 • 8:18am
“You hit a . . . WHAT?”
I like to insert a little TV sitcom drama into conversations with my son. Like Jerry Seinfeld setting up a cue for a laugh track. Even when I don’t feel like laughing.
A car. I backed into it.
“You hit a car . . . HOW?”
I was pulling out of a parking spot. I didn’t see it.
“You didn’t see . . . A CAR?”
I am concerned because my son has had his driver’s license for a week. He is on the phone with me in a panic. He has just struck a stationary car and the owner is not around. He wants to know what to do.
He explains what happened in short, fragmented bursts.
I was parallel parked . . . the car in front of me was very close . . . I had to back up to get out . . . there was nothing in my rear view mirror . . .
He is not hurt, just nervous and embarrassed. And he is not sure what to do because in the optimistic classroom of driver’s education they apparently skipped the chapter on backing forcefully into parked cars. I wonder if they didn’t skip the chapter on backing up all together.
I put the car in reverse . . . I thought I hit a cone or something . . . I heard a thud . . .
I can’t help myself. Our sitcom is now Must See TV.
“You heard . . . a WHAT?”
It was like a thud. Dad, I looked over my shoulder when I backed up, just like you showed me. There was nothing there!
“Nothing there? You hit . . . a CAR!”
In TV sitcom dialogue, it is important to restate the obvious.
My son desperately wants to make the situation better so I will stop making him repeat everything. So he informs me our car is OK.
“Our car is . . . OK?”
There is no damage. I think I hit the other car with that big metal thingy that’s on the back.
“You hit it the other car with . . . the TRAILER HITCH? “
I sickly envision a crumpled and torn bumper dangling helplessly between cracked lens covers. My stomach starts to turn. Now I am really dismayed. This was not in the script.
It put a hole in the other car.
“A . . . HOLE?”
Somewhere around this point in the conversation my mind refuses to watch the show that is airing. The human brain has an amazing capacity to change the channel in the face of bad news. And things were rapidly going from comedy to reality TV.
I try to focus on the commercials of reputable body shops with catchy 1-800 jingles I have seen. Instead, I start seeing GEICO advertisements in my mind. I barely hear the words my son utters over the cell phone.
“The hole is . . . WHERE?”
It’s in the hood of the car. It’s a big square hole.
“The . . . HOOD?”
Yeah, over the engine. I told you. It is a really low car. I couldn’t see it out the back window.
“Over the . . . ENGINE?”
If you believe in parking lot Darwinism, then tiny vehicles, like say Mini Coopers and smart cars and golf carts, really don’t have much chance for survival. Even with a large buffer, the parking lines in which they smugly rest are no match for lofty frames equipped with rear mounted bike racks, suspended tires, and bludgeoning trailer hitches. My mental imagery is returning.
I ask my son to write down the license plate of the car he hit. He already has. And taken a picture on his phone. I ask him what kind of tiny car he hit. He isn’t sure, so he goes to look.
Waiting for him to reply I quickly estimate how much it might cost to repair a hole in the hood of a small car. Then, thinking of modern vehicle construction, I estimate how much it would cost to replace the hood. Then, coming to my senses, I estimate how much it might cost to replace the whole car.
“It’s a . . . WHAT? “
Ethics aside, now would be a good time to panic and run away from the scene of the crime. But that is not me and that is not my son. With my stomach in knots, I instruct him to write a note with my name and telephone number explaining what happened and leave it on the poor car he struck. The owner will not be happy.
What is a Lotus? My son wants to know.
I’ll tell him when our sitcom is ready for re-runs. It will be funnier then.
Miss the first article in this series? Read it! http://thealternativepress.com/articles/eating-my-dust