Aug 09

Friday Five: Behind the wheel

Now that I’m blogging again, the arrival of Friday means it’s time to answer the Friday Five. This week’s questions are about driving.
1. Do you have a car? If so, what kind of car is it? We have two vehicles, both of which are Chrysler products: a Plymouth Grand Voyager and a Dodge Neon four-door sedan.
2. Do you drive very often? Are you kidding? Of course I do. If you live in the Triangle and you have a job, you commute every day. Now that I’m unemployed, you would think I’d be spending less time on the road, but that just means that I have more time time to run errands and drive the kids around.
3. What’s your dream car? As hard as this is to believe, I don’t have one. I can think of lots of cars that I wouldn’t turn down if someone gave me one, but I see a car as a means of getting places, not as a manifestation of my personality. So, even though I’m a middle-aged male, I really have no interest in acquiring an expensive sports car, or even a mountain-climbing SUV. My dream car is any car that fits my practical requirements (four-door sedan, automatic transmission, cruise control, power locks and windows, CD player) and doesn’t cost me a lot of money (affordable purchase price, great gas mileage, inexpensive to maintain).
I will admit that I really like the Pontiac Aztek because I think it looks cool, but I have no idea how good a vehicle it is to drive or maintain.
4. Have you ever received a ticket? Only once. I have never received a speeding ticket in the ordinary sense — that is, I have never been pulled over and given a ticket because I was observed driving faster than the posted speed limit. However, in 1982 I did receive a citation for “driving too fast for conditions” because the Domino’s Pizza delivery car that I had been driving was upside down in the ditch. The officer who wrote the ticket did not actually know what my speed had been, but he concluded that it must have been too fast. I didn’t agree with this assessment, but thought it was best not to argue. (The accident did not prevent me from delivering the pizza on time; it happened on my way back from the customer’s house.)
5. Have you ever been in an accident? Quite a few, actually. As a teenager, I was a mediocre driver and was involved in several fender-benders as a result. My most serious accident was the seven-car pileup in 1980 that fractured my right femur and caused me to spend six weeks in traction. (I was only a passenger that time; my college roommate was driving.) My most recent accident was a two-car collision in 1995, in which I was driving through an intersection and hit an oncoming vehicle that turned left in front of me. The police officer concluded that I ran a red light, and he may have been right — it’s possible that I mistook a green turn arrow for a green light.
The strangest accident I’ve been involved in took place in 1990. It was a collision that involved two cars, but no drivers. In fact, neither car was running at the time. It happened when a teenager living in the cul-de-sac across the street from our house was pushing his car with the aid of a buddy. Somehow, they lost control of it at a moment when neither of them was behind the wheel. The driverless vehicle rolled down the hill and struck my car, which was parked at the curb. Naturally, I was not happy about this, but it later occurred to me that if my car had not stopped it, the other vehicle would have jumped the curb, continued down the hill, crashed through the front wall of our house, and come to rest in our living room. As it turned out, the damage to my car was superficial (the right front fender was mangled, but the vehicle was still drivable), and my insurance covered the cost of the repair.
I am happy to say that I have never been involved in a fatal accident. This is partly good luck, but it’s also partly because I always wear a seat belt, and insist that all passengers do the same while I’m driving.