Category Archives: driving

A Bump In the Road

Sometimes the best way to learn is from experience, and experiences, especially those that frighten and remain ingrained. Last night as I was driving home, another car hit mine, which I guess qualifies as an experience. I was driving in her blind spot and she went to change lanes, swerving right into me.

I remember my first accident, in Calabasas, only a few months after having gotten my license, as I miscalculated the braking distance/speed and rear-ended the Mercedes in front of me. A stop sign sits at the top of a hilly area – even now when I drive past it I remember that day when I had to accelerate my Daewoo to make it up the hill, and then could not stop once there.

The man in the dark grey Mercedes, Mark, was visibly upset. He didn’t even pull over, just stepped out of his car, marched to the back of it examining the damage I had done, shifting his gaze between his rear bumper, my front bumper, and me. I was shaking and nearly in tears. I had insurance which would now quadruple as a testament to my bad driving; but I was more distraught because instead of angry he looked disappointed. Even though, judging from his pursed lips, he obviously was quite angry. If apologizing would have made things better, I would have done it a hundred times. But I knew it wouldn’t.

He stopped examining his car, long enough to pull out his wallet looking expectantly at me to do the same, except I was still staring at the bumper of his car, not really looking at it anymore, but contemplating the implications of what just happened. I knew the word “negligent” would get tossed around a lot.

Yes, I had just learned how to drive, in my twenties, later than other people I knew, for multiple reasons all having to do with others attempting to control me and consequently where I went. But standing there in my hot pink cut-offs, glitter top and sandals I looked much  younger. I looked like a fifteen year old, and a particularly inept one at that.

I tried to write down his information, but all I got was “Mark” who lived not far from where we were then. On anther hill just like the one we were stopped on, and ¬†just as deserted (not a single other car came our way this entire time, despite that we were in the middle of the street). The idea of others witnessing any of this was terrifying, and I could just hear that word reverberate… negligent.

That word implies laziness and carelessness and I took offense, because I had not been those things, but simply, for lack of a better term, dumb. Picture Cher from everyone’s favorite nineties’s movie, and you would understand.

So as my car got hit last night, I thought of my first accident, I thought of the way it turned out, and I thought about the lesson I learned that day. Mark never called the insurance company, and despite driving a much nicer car than I had at the time, never asked me for money to fix the dent my licence plate put into his rear bumper, and simply insisted that I practice my braking, suggesting that I don’t brake all at once, but rather in short bursts, leading up to the stop.

The girl who hit my car yesterday was just as inexperienced as I had been, even younger, and terrified. “Negligent” came to my mind. But not in the way you think, or how others might use it in this case; I felt bad because the term would most likely get applied to her, and I didn’t think she was. And I don’t mean that I wasn’t angry, because I was, and I was frustrated on top of that. She just made my long day longer. But what was anger going to solve?

Just like Mark that day overrode his anger and instead imparted advice, I thought I would do the same. Since neither of us had been driving very fast it was more of a bump than an actual accident; even the kids hadn’t felt anything, but instead were amusing themselves in the back seat. As the driver of the other car was stammering apologies she reminded me of a younger version of myself while helping me envision a future version of my daughter (hopefully minus the accident part of things).

She pulled out her purse and presented all of her documents, even ones I would not need (although it is good to know she donates blood to the Red Cross on a regular basis). Interestingly, moments before she appeared flushed, and then as she held out the contents of her wallet, seemingly confused about the proper things she should hand over, her face looked as though her blood had been completely drained out. Holding her license I noticed she had a pretty name.

I was tired, it was late, my car isn’t exactly in its prime anymore, so I handed her things back to her and told her to always look over her shoulder when changing lanes, with no exceptions.

I examined my car once more – and this dent is really no worse than what I have already done to the car myself – and then I told her we were done.

To lighten the intensity of the incident, although probably not intentionally, Ally leaned out of the car to let everyone know she can taste the dent, and not to worry because it was probably caused by the raccoons she heard in the trunk earlier. Everyone, including Ally and Ducky, started laughing, and the relief was practically palpable. The other driver sniffled her tears away. This was the first time she realized there were children in the car and began thanking several deities that they had not gotten hurt; not to mention I would have been a lot less lenient if that had happened.

As she was getting back into her car she thanked me again and promised to always look over her shoulder, even when there is no one around. I just hope she does.

 

Driving and Stuff

My mom and I took the kids to the beach today. She was sitting next to me while I drove and asked why I hold the gear shift while driving. I haven’t driven a stick shift in many years, but it was the way I learned how to drive and I still drive in the same position. I am actually not even sure I could drive a stick again since it has been so long. I would probably stall the car.

I remembered learning to drive. My dad and my first husband took turns teaching me. I guess for them it was a bonding experience over my driving inexperience. For me, it was stressful. I would try to change lanes on a busy street, and my dad would shout “don’t ever do it like that! Your mirrors don’t show you everything! You need to turn, all the way, and look! Really look! What if someone was in your blind spot? What if the car in the other lane was driving faster than you saw in the mirror? Then what?” Changing lanes became terrifying.

Then, later in the evening I would go out driving with my husband. I would change lanes carefully, looking in all directions, making sure I missed nothing. “What are you doing? Don’t take your eyes away from the road for that long! That is what you have mirrors for!”

It is a miracle I ever learned to drive at all.

Although several people may argue that I still don’t know how to drive. Eh.

In a few days it will be my first ex husband’s birthday. He is turning fifty so I feel like I should send him something. I am not sure what. I have a beautiful copy of Coleridge with some very well done illustrations. I could send him that. But I haven’t spoken to him in about five years. I wouldn’t even know where to send it. He sends me emails once in while. Usually links to things. Maybe I will send him a link to something for his birthday. Maybe just an email.

Last time I heard from some mutual friends he had gotten back together with his first wife. I don’t remember much about her except that she hated me. When I first got with him she kept trying to get in touch with me. After a few months I finally called her. We had a long conversation in which, even in my youth, I realized she was crazy.

After we got married she started sending me little “gifts.” They were usually baby items… onesies, rattles, baby books. Obviously a reminder of the child we could never have. They came in intervals, usually around my birthday. Maybe she meant them as Christmas gifts, but since my birthday is so close they generally arrived around then. On my twenty first birthday she sent me a clock. Implying time was running out? I don’t know. I never replied to any of her packages. Received them and threw them away. Except for the clock. It looked very nice in the living room. She kept this up for almost six years. Like I said, crazy.

I should have kept the onesies and dressed my children in them. Who’s laughing now? Well, I guess she is. I guess I could retaliate and send her a few things too. But there is nothing wrong with *my* head. At least not like that.

At the beach today, seeing me in a bikini my mother noticed I have gained weight in a good way. I think I have gained around five or six pounds. For the last year I had lost so much weight, it was a little disconcerting. I was under a lot of stress and for me, stress eating leads to weight loss. I haven’t been eating very much lately so my body stopped burning everything. But I have gained weight in all the right places. I love it.

My mom and I talked about a lot of things. The kids were asleep in the back seat and she just let me talk. I think I rambled on for about an hour. I can’t even remember everything I said, but it felt good.

Driving

You know what is far more scary than someone driving 90 mph on the freeway? The people driving 50. Because the man driving 90 seems to know what he is doing. The person driving 50, in the fast lane, seems drunk. I mean, seriously, what do you have to be on to consider it fine to be maintaining that speed for a prolonged period of time? And what about the man next to you driving at the same speed? Should I just get off the freeway now? Or is this becoming a thing? Because one person after another was driving excruciatingly slow, despite the fact there was no traffic, and it was getting late. Don’t these people have somewhere to be? I don’t know… home?
That is all.