I bumped a car yesterday evening in a parking lot. I had a fleeting moment of panic, where I thought the most logical thing to do was to roar off into the night. Then the reality of driving the family car with my child strapped into the seat behind me came crashing back in. I wasn't getting away with anything. I got out and checked for damage and injuries. Happily, there seemed to be little of either to mention - save for the vast and spreading wound to my self-esteem. After all, I'm a grown up now - my son was safely strapped in his car seat and this kind of thing just doesn't happen when you're being careful. Oh yeah - "being careful."
I periodically take a good bit of ribbing for my careful nature - Captain Cautious. Moderation and control are my watch words - with occasional flurries of giddy excess to show what a fun guy I still am, but other than that I'm pretty tightly wound.
This wasn't always the case. I beat the three cars I owned from high school through college into the ground. The saddest example of this was the red Toyota pickup that I inherited from my older brother as he moved to his next vehicle. I was driving my younger brother down the twisty mountain road that lead to our family's cabin. We were headed back down to Boulder for some contact with city folk. My wallet was on the seat beside me and I asked my little brother to put the loose change that was sliding around the dashboard into the change pocket in my wallet. "Where's the change pocket?" he asked. I reached over to show him where to put the seventy eight odd cents that were my primary concern.
When I looked up, all I saw were trees. We had left Magnolia Road and were now headed down the side of the hill. We came to a very abrupt stop when our progress was halted by a young but very sturdy aspen tree. Another even smaller tree was propped up against the driver's side door - keeping us from rolling over. It was a nice bit of fate and nature colliding with the shiny new red Toyota pickup. Oh yeah - the new truck. It wasn't new anymore. The front end had been moved up a good six inches and the engine had been shoved back into the drive train. My new truck was totaled. The hardest part was telling my older brother what I had done to his pretty red pickup.
Twenty-seven years later, I feel that guilt again. The Saturn is just fine - it's made out of plastic, after all. The other car was fine - just a lot of shaken nerves. But gee - don't I feel like a dope.