“You are trying to live a champagne life on a beer budget,” he said to me.
“What does that mean?” He generally spoke straightforward and not in riddles.
“You want what you cannot afford.”
We were in a car lot, and my dad was tired of hearing me say ‘no’ to all the options he had given me for vehicle choices.
“I don’t like any of them.”
The salesperson tried to stay positive, but my dad had mercy on him and said,
“We will be back. We need to figure out what she can have.”
Being the youngest, I was offered something that everyone else ahead of me had to wait for. My parents were worn out from driving kids all over town, so they decided to find a used car for me when I was seventeen to cut themselves free from the responsibility forever. I was the only one left. Having older parents had its advantages; they were more like grandparents when I was in my late teens. What they once had endless energy for, now was no longer a priority.
I ended up being given an older Pontiac Firebird, which halted my searches through car lots. But, I was not spared the long speech.
“If you get a speeding ticket, we will take the car away.” There were more rules stated, but I zoned out. I figured if I did something wrong, they would let me know later. For now, I had my own transportation.
I could not believe that I had hit a taxi. I did not live in a vast metropolis where we had cabs on every corner with people chasing them down, and they were rarely seen on the route I was traveling. The driver slammed his door and seemed angry as he walked to my car.
It was early morning, and I was on my way to high school. I must have been tired from working all weekend and had a momentary too long of a blink. I heard the sound of metal and crunching.
I was already saying I was sorry before I got out of my car. I saw that he had a passenger in the back seat. He crouched down and looked at his bumper and mine. I must have read his initial facial expression wrong because he looked up at me, smiled, and said,
“Are you okay?”
I said I was. Physically, yes, but mentally, no.
“Well, I have no damage. These are built like tanks, and it looks like you have the worst of it.”
Most of the people in my school were driving cars that barely started. I was asked if my family was wealthy because mine was in such great shape. Now, I had put a dent in it.
“Are you sure you are alright? You don’t look like you are,” he said.
This was before cell phones, so I couldn’t just call my dad and have him come to my rescue, and this had never happened to me before.
“I have a special needs student in the back, so I have to get him to school. Can you make it to where you are going? That damage to your car can be easily fixed. You didn’t hit me that hard.”
I believed him, and we parted ways. I had to find a payphone.
“I hit a taxi,” I said, trying not to cry.
“What? You hit a what?” He was a father of six. Wasn’t he supposed to be ready for anything at all times?
“A taxi,” I said with my throat beginning to close.
“How did you do that?”
All the questions! Always.
“I don’t know. It was in front of me at a light, and I hit him!”
He actually started to laugh, so that meant I wasn’t going to get a lecture.
“Just go to school, and I will come look at it.”
He fixed it for me, but after that, I had a slight fear while out driving. Something that had been so automatic now didn’t seem like it. I got over it, and that was the only accident I have ever been in. But, my relationship with cars, dealing with them and their surprises have not been my favorite.
It’s always at the most inconvenient time when a battery dies, something leaks, or there’s a weird sound that starts up. And while getting my oil changed, I have been met by the dire news that some thing-a-ma-jig isn’t doing what it should, so now I have to pay for it without warning.
The most recent was my gas line coming off. I had just had my car in for a service, and the technician did not secure it properly with a clip after flushing that out. I took a turn, and my car died immediately. With my hands still on the wheel, I sat there wondering why I was smelling gasoline. I got out and saw that the full tank of gas I had just put in was spilling all over the ground.
One little broken clip required a tow back to the shop. To say that my patience has been tried is an understatement. With all of our technology, why are we not teleporting at this point?
On a Saturday morning not too long ago, my oldest daughter was getting ready to leave for work. Neither one of us really take the time to speak at that time of day because she is in a hurry, and I don’t want to slow her down. I was reading something, and I heard the garage door go up.
I saw her back out of the driveway, and for some odd reason, I said,
“God, put angels around her car.”
I just had this weird feeling.
Within a minute, my phone was ringing.
“A guy hit me.”
“I am coming,” I said.
She had made it to the corner on our street, so my drive was about 30 seconds. When I pulled up, I started walking straight for my daughter. The other driver came around his truck, blocked me, and said,
I stepped back from him, inwardly cringed, and said a quick hello. I skirted him, but he followed close behind me, and I wasn’t sure what he was trying to accomplish.
“Are you okay?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she said.
I glanced to my right, and he could not have been standing any closer to me. I backed up again.
“She was turning, and she hit me,” was his claim.
I called the police so a report could be filed.
He acted like we were old acquaintances, and that wasn’t making me feel so comfortable. I tried not to say anything, but the silence got to him.
“Where were you going?” He asked her.
“To work,” she answered.
“Where do you work?” he asked.
She pointed randomly straight ahead.
I raised a smart one.
He was so strange, and I tried to keep moving the two of us away from him. Every time I tried to talk to her alone, he would zoom in between us.
First, he told us he had never been involved in an accident, then went on to say he had some sort of road rage incident. I started to wonder what drugs he was on.
The police officer arrived, took down their information and stories. He looked like we had gotten him out of bed for the day. Before he left, he handed each of them his card and said that a report would be online to give to our insurance companies.
I told her to get into her car and roll the window down, which was the only moment she and I had together alone.
“Are you sure you are okay?”
“Yes,” she said again.
I looked over, and he was behind his wheel, staring at us.
Her car was driveable, so she took off. I made sure he went in the opposite direction. I wanted to go home and hose myself down after being in the presence of that man.
The police report was posted within a day, and officer Barney Fife stated that my bright orange vehicle was involved in the accident, not her very white one. He had glanced at the insurance card, where both cars were listed, and wrote in mine. It was no surprise that he also hadn’t listened to her account and messed that up as well.
After that was corrected and her car was repaired by paying the deductible, it became a ‘he said, she said’ case. He claimed she swerved into his left turn lane while she took a right. And she said he hit her in her lane. The whole thing, I was told, wasn’t going to go anywhere and would be a waste of time, especially because of the botched police report.
So what do you do when you know you have been wronged? You have to give it to God and count the things that worked in your favor. She didn’t get hurt, the car was fixed quickly, my insurance lady helped me on a Saturday because we are good friends, and we never have to see that guy again. I hope.
And, I was grateful for the angels that acted on her behalf when I asked for them to come, just like Psalm 91 says:
He orders his angels to guard you wherever you go. (Message)