It seemed like every time I got behind the wheel I magnetically attracted the one vehicle on the road begging for bodywork. You could argue after the first crash that I was too young to drive, but ironically my parents continued (somewhat reluctantly) to pass the keys over and away I went…in search of my next collision.
I obtained my driver’s license ten business days after my sweet sixteenth. It was the second try, as I’d flunked the initial test.
Without going into a lot of unnecessary details I think it suffices to say that I received the failing grade as a direct result of crashing into the DMV building. I knew I’d hit the government site with a degree of force, but even I was amazed at the amount of brickwork I’d managed to loosen from the structure. Remarkably the tank-like bumper on my car sustained little damage so I’m not even going to qualify this one as a fender-bender.
I should have known right there and then that I’d failed the test. Clearly the building had the right of way, and a motorist who mistakes the gas pedal for the brake is not demonstrating a safe standard of driving, but I remained hopeful as one does in the face of impending doom. After all, technically I wasn’t under review at the moment of impact. I was navigating my way from the parking lot to the designated area to wait for my instructor. So in fairness, one might ask…how could someone flunk an exam they hadn’t yet taken?
Praying that miraculously nobody had felt the tremor inside the DMV, I quickly managed to shove the car in park, scrambled to pick up the crumbled mortar and brick, and flung it as far as I could from the crash scene. Unfortunately, my instructor had already rounded the corner just in time to view the wreckage and my pathetic girl toss, subsequently writing in bold red ink across my certificate the word…”FAIL.”
My dad had given my mother an early birthday present…a light blue Plymouth convertible with a kickass AM/FM radio. It had less than two hundred miles on it when I sat in her plush leather seats and started the engine. That baby purred like my old grandmother before she had sleep apnea surgery.
If memory serves me, at the time of the crash I was changing the channel on the radio. Sure I was distracted, but in my defense, there were some low hanging branches obstructing my view. That’s not quite how the cop saw it…the man in blue who slammed into me after I had ignored the yield sign. The officer hit my driver’s door with such force that it immediately crushed the leather seat flattening it to the floorboard, and launched me to the passenger side. The car spun like a drunken sorority pledge on a frat bed, but I managed to hold tight until it eventually came to a stop…with the help of a maple tree. Luckily no one was hurt, but the car was leveled. I was told afterwards that if I’d been wearing my seat belt chances are I wouldn’t be writing this post.
My next demolition took place a few weeks later. This time, I drove through an intersection only to have an approaching student driver attempt an illegal U-turn in front of me, violently transforming us into carnival bumper cars. In slow motion I witnessed the instructor’s face turn from calm…to head-on hysteria. One of my last thoughts was how effortlessly the impact hurled me through the windshield like an Olympic shot-put onto the beckoning asphalt.
I suppose it was my fault for not wearing a seat belt, but you have to understand I had just been told that wearing one during the first accident would have produced grave consequences. Who’s going to “Buckle Up For Safety” after that informative tidbit! This mindset might have made more sense had it not all happened prior to the creation of interior inflation devices. But way back then, an airbag was a term more often than not used to describe one’s mother-in-law.
Sirens were blaring as I regained consciousness. My arm was in a very strange position and there were little shards of glass lodged in my flesh. Thankfully, both instructor and student walked away unharmed as a tow truck hauled off my second offering to the junkyard.
The Plymouth dealership was becoming a regular stop for us and we rolled yet another beauty out of the showroom and into our driveway. You probably gather by now I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to test drive the newest addition to our fleet. Actually I was leary of anything with four wheels and a steering apparatus. After all, in a very short period of time I’d managed to total two cars and cause substantial structural damage to the DMV.
When I finally did muster the courage to get behind the wheel again I began slowly, practicing on rural roads near our summer cabin. After a few days of driving well below the speed limit, I decided to find a patch of open highway and put the pedal to the metal. My confidence was back, the radio was blaring, and I was feeling damn near euphoric as the speedometer inched up.
Then it happened. Without warning, two cows appeared. I swerved to avoid the unwieldy milkers …I really did. At the very least they could have bopped their heads to the beat, shook their rump roasts, or done something to get those cow bells ringing, but the two of them just stood there, frozen as if in a nativity scene.
You will be happy to know that both bovine beasts survived the accident. The car and I, on the other hand, after dodging their shanks and flanks, careened down a ditch and into a pasture where I blew through an electric fence. I was sure this was the end of the line for me…third time being a charm and all, but when the car plowed to a stop, I found that I’d somehow survived both the crash and electrocution.
By this time you can imagine I was getting pretty good at filling out insurance claims, but this was a little more difficult as the only two victims had no intention of implicating themselves in the accident report. It became painfully obvious I was going to have to show that those hoofed heifers were clearly culpable if I wanted a favorable settlement.
Question #1. Were others involved in the accident?
Question #2. What is the name of their insurance company?
Question #3. Who did you collide with?
Answer: An embankment, a ditch, a pasture, and an electric fence…after I swerved to avoid the second party.
Question #4. Were you able to give adequate warning?
Answer: Yes, I honked…repeatedly.
Question #5. What warning was given by the other party involved?
Question #6. Was there a dispute or confrontation at the scene?
Answer: I would describe them more as passive-aggressive. I honked. They had horns, but refrained from using them.
Question #7. Did the other party suffer any trauma?
Answer: After crawling back up the hill from the pasture where my car was smoking, I noticed that one of them had defecated on the road and the other appeared to be leaking a white milky substance. I can only describe the scene as udder chaos.