Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Tire Rims and Poor Decisions
If you read my previous post about Channeling Dave Barry, you know a little bit about the demise of my high school car. This post is about the very beginning, when I first got the car. I would like to submit it somewhere, but I'm honestly not sure where.
By the way, the April Edition of Midnight Screaming is going to press soon! My poem, "The Green Man" will be featured in the magazine, and a short biography about me will be posted on the Midnight Screaming Website.
Tire Rims and Poor Decisions
In one of the world’s worst decisions since the (insert your least favorite election year here) election, my father gave me, a 17-year old child, a car after I graduated from high school. To be fair, he didn’t have much choice. He and my mother had promised all of their children that if any of us earned straight A’s consistently all through high school, they would buy us a car. Not a new car or a big car, of course, but a good, solid, drivable college car.
We three children are all very smart, capable people, but I don’t think my parents really thought any of their children would take them up on this. They didn’t count on me. I was a very goal-oriented high school student. My fear of failure and my desperate desire for success revealed themselves in academics. I was linguistically intelligent, endlessly creative, and I had the work ethic of a winged ant. In other words, I was insufferable.
Be that as it may, a month after I graduated high school, my father found a great car for me. It was a two-door hatchback eight-year-old Dodge Shadow with only 30,000 miles on it. It was a little white car with pristine matching rims and it had the sports package, so that meant it had three awesome features: a fin on the back, a red racing stripe, and the ability to become very fast very quickly. It’s a wonder my father ever slept at night again.
Now, earlier I told you that I was linguistically intelligent. That means that I am good at understanding words and their meaning. However, if you’ve ever had a crazy English teacher, which most of us have, you will have noted that linguistic intelligence is nowhere near the same thing as common sense or even normal intelligence. This is why you should never ask your English teacher for help with your math homework.
I know I’m stereotyping here, but as a high school English teacher, I’m telling you honestly, most of us barely know Algebra, and know even less about cars. It’s possible that there may be brilliant English teachers out there who are mathematical geniuses and master mechanics, but if there are, I really have yet to meet one.
So bear that all in mind when I tell you that one day that summer, driving home from work, I heard a strange noise coming from the back of my car. It was a funny, bumping, grinding noise. Bump-a-chung-a-grung-a-Bump-a-chung-a-grung-a....you get the idea. For some reason, I thought that the hatchback must be ajar and that perhaps that was why the car wasn’t sounding or feeling right.
I really only had another five miles to go before I got home, so I decided to continue driving. Remember what I said before about common sense, and my lack of it? Yeah.
The car was becoming more and more difficult to steer. I could barely manage to keep it in my lane. Other cars were honking at me. One man leaned out of his window and pointed alarmingly to the back of my car.
“I know, I know,” I mouthed back, “The hatchback is open.”
The concerned driver’s eyes got very large, and he ducked back into his car and drove away from my car as quickly as he could. That was when I noticed the smell. It smelled like….burning rubber.
Huh, I thought. I guess I’d better pull over.
By this time I was only a mile away from my house, so I pulled over at a shopping center and managed to steer the vehicle into a parking space. I got out and looked all around the car. The hatchback was securely closed. I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary that would elicit such a strong reaction from the other drivers. I shrugged my 17-year-old shoulders, and began the walk home.
Later, my father drove me back to the car, and when I told him I hadn’t noticed anything wrong with it, he took a look.
“Sandy,” he said, doing his best to control the frustration in his voice, “You didn’t notice the tire back here?”
“The tire?” I asked innocently.
I walked around to the back of the car. That’s when I noticed it. The tire looked like it had gone through a wood chipper. Black rubber tendrils were literally hanging off the rim. The rim of the wheel, my beautiful matching white wheel rim, now had black gashes all over it, and it looked like I had been driving directly on it.
“How long did you drive the car like this?” My father asked in such an eerily calm voice that the hair on the back of my neck stood up.
“Oh…a while.” I muttered under my breath.
“What was that?”
“Umm…four or five miles?” I stared at the ground.
“You drove on the tire rim for five miles!”
“Yes. Yes, I did.”
We drove home in silence except for the sound of my father grinding his teeth.
The next day we took it to a tire place and discovered that it hadn’t actually damaged the rims. We bought all new tires, and everything turned out just fine. I wish I could say that that was the last truly horrible thing I had done with that car, but that would just be a lie.