An hour and a half with a good conversationalist

Posted on January 13th, 2010 5 great comments. Room for one more!

Oh, right, I’d stuck the gloves and hat under my desk at work in a clever fashion. Too clever.  Now I was walking home with a fortunately planned hoodie pulled over my head and a scarf that managed to protect my delicate features, but still not one of the brightest Tuesdays on record.

And I don’t know about you but when I pull stunts like that, I end up staring longingly into the warm interiors of passing cars. Crossing the road also provides me with an opportunity to hang a forlorn expression on my face for the benefit of the people behind the glass. Usually it’s just frozen that way so it’s not as if I’m doing it on purpose, but still indicative of my feelings.

On winter evenings like this, I remember my golden automotive era behind the wheel of a candy-apple-red Volkswagen Golf. It was a standard with copious electrical problems, balding tires, and an increasing number of bumps and dings as a result of those balding tires. But that moment when the heater kicked in (after I’d been struggling for half an hour to squeeze through a half-open trunk because the doors were frozen shut), that was something truly sweet.

In one bumpy incident, both my VW and the car in front glided into the middle of an intersection on some slick on the road. Not being able to stop either (so maybe the tires weren’t involved), the lady behind the wheel was very understanding after we’d made contact. We were already moving pretty slowly when we lost control; I don’t believe I even scratched her bumper. Afterward, we both admitted to being lucky not to have been t-boned by oncoming traffic, and we parted ways with smiles and a “have a great day”.

In another dingy incident, I slid very slowly through a sharp turn on a rural road in north Pickering. When I say very slowly, I mean that I had time to try the hand brake – to no avail, pump the foot brake — in futility, steer in a few different directions — to no effect, make sure my seatbelt was secured — for naught, turn off the spontaneous wipers (among the cornucopia of electrical problems) — with no success, and even utter a gentle “oh crap” (also pointless), before coming to rest on a ditch post. I managed to crush the bumper but, again, drove away with just another piece of character. Soon-to-rust character.

Guess there was that one time I wrecked the front axle on a curb; I remember sliding into that one too, on a wet road. The tires were turned left, the car kept going forward. *thump* *wobble wobble* I didn’t even end up on the curb, just bent the the whole rod thing down there all up. Not as chortley then as it sounds now.

Besides that, I’ve gotten one speeding ticket (fifteen over), and one for driving with an expired plate sticker. In both cases, the issuing officers suggested that I should fight the injustices in court ( “judge’ll probably throw it out” – translation: “I won’t show for court.” ) So I don’t feel like they saw my infractions as terribly terrible.

I’m not a perfect driver, but that’s my whole history over the years. Sure, traffic sucked all sorts of gonads, but at least I had warmth. No radio – that literally fell apart one day as I hit the ON button – but having an hour and a half with a good conversationalist was a good way to pass the time. Sometimes I’d also give people a ride.

The reason I bring all of this up (except for that last part, that’s just a rosy sentimentality), is because I need a moral mound from which to fire my judgmental salvos.

People, you need to get a grip. (Not you, dear reader, I know you’re a careful driver.)

I mean, that 83-year-old who ran down the mom with her baby surviving only by some miracle, that old woman shouldn’t have been on the road. Have you seen how old people cross the road?! WITHOUT A VEHICLE?! NOW IMAGINE THEM IN A VEHICLE!!

Never mind 83, I’ve been in a car with someone twenty years younger as she steered her wide vehicle aloft over an alarmingly tall concrete divider between the arrivals / departures lanes at the airport. Have you ever been in a fat luxury automobile as it takes flight? It’s quite an experience.

And about that thing with the doctor who was caught speeding en route to a bona fide emergency, I think the solution’s a simple one. Okay, I think there’s good cause for a doctor to be able to speed when necessary (burden of proof being on Doc Drift) – here is one such example. But if the doctor is to speed then he should adhere to current etiquette and stick a flashing doohickey on the top of his car. He should also take the same driver training as cops do. Basically, he should be operating an identifiable emergency vehicle and be trained to do so. I guess he could use his own Benz so long as the thing was loud and bright and obnoxious.

But for everyone else, slowing down’s the ticket. That and keeping the old folks off the road. For practicality, I’d suggest some sort of herding vehicle to convey their beastly frames from hither to dither. Then farther.

My driving days are are in a shoebox somewhere in the back of my closet. My current credit won’t get me anything enclosed to ride in and I’m not sure if I’d want to anyway. The walking scene is hip. And if I’m involved in any sort of mishap, I instantly become a litigious money hole. Everyone wins!

5 Comments on “ An hour and a half with a good conversationalist ”

  • Inge
    January 14th, 2010 4:08 am

    Reading about your VW escapades reminds me of the old Nova I used to own. It burned so much oil, I kept a case on the trunk. The upside to that was no one tailgated me at stoplights. Couldn't handle the smoke. The driver's side door was rusted out at the bottom so I could see the road as I was driving. It also didn't always close so if I took a curve, I had to make sure the window was down so I could hold the door shut. But, like your car, the heater was nice in the winter. I totaled it when I slid into a ditch in the rain.

    My next POS would slip into reverse when I tried to crank it so I had to hold it in park. But, it had a 305 engine in it and would haul some serious a**!

    I use to live in a retirement community in southern CA. I installed air horns on my Renault just for the old people. One good honk and you were so scared you just pulled over and out of my way!

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  • Patrick
    January 14th, 2010 8:40 pm

    I know it's hard to tell, Inge, but this is one of the most genuine ha ha!s that I can produce electronically: Haha! Oh my God, I can't tell you how many times I've dreamed of owning an air horn for just such a purpose. People like you are an inspiration; I salute you! :D

  • Kato
    January 14th, 2010 9:27 pm

    That poor VW just didn't want to live. Half-assed emo suicide attempts, and you just never stood a chance.

    And walking IS hip isn't it? Especially with having to pay for parking in this city, pay a tax for your car, or pay THREE EFFING DOLLARS for the TTC.

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  • Patrick
    January 15th, 2010 1:11 pm

    Yup, right on the money, Kato :) Except that the VW was a tank (at least the engine was) — my adventuremobile — but she who shall remain nameless let it sit in her driveway until it couldn't be started anymore. At the end, it probably took its own life. The damage, however, was 100% pride :)

  • She who shall remain nameless
    November 27th, 2012 10:40 am

    As I remember MY car was left with me with a laundry list of engine and structural problems that made her unsellable. Shame, really. I paid a lot of money for her.

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