A Bad Pair of Shoes
Some people say your number is gonna come up . . . odds are . . . sooner or later. . . the law of averages . . . Whether one subscribes to that philosophy or not, when it’s your turn, when your number comes up, it’s always a surprise. Yes, I was guilty of pride in my good driving record. “I’ve driven enough for three lifetimes” I would tell people. Grew up in the car culture of Michigan with three brothers whose ability to tear apart and put back together all manner of engines never transferred to me. My appreciation for design and performance in vehicles is profound and fun. However, I put gas in and drive. Love the drive through car wash. Know how to check the tires. Love to drive or ride in all kinds of cars, trucks, any vehicle that moves. Ooh and aah over specialty cars you don’t see often but I’m not a walking encyclopedia of year, make and model history.
My lady car, I called it. After decades of being a musician commonly driving vans all over this land I got a lady car. A 4-door Mercedes, C-280, dark opal black/blue, leather, small and sleek and outfitted with all the bells and whistles. I was spoiled.
I listened to everything on that Bose sound system. I was attached to that car. I had it for fourteen years.
My joke of “Someday it’s gonna be ‘Have you seen that old woman in that mint Mercedes?’ ” isn’t going to happen now.
See I’ve always been chided for being frugal. There’s a line in one of my songs,
“I can stretch a dollar ’til George cries mercy, Washington on the one”.
It was true and I was proud of it. Don’t get me wrong; I love creature comforts and fine things.
But I know I can be happy even when I don’t have those things ’cause I was happy in the days of eating popcorn and Top Ramen to feel full; the days before I had all the fine things that make me feel so lucky now, that came after years of work and good luck.
Old habits die hard, if they die and some don’t.
Years of finding great gig clothes and unusual items in truck stops and discount drugstores
(I have sssooooooo many things from the $9.99 rack at Sav-On) keeps me always on the lookout for a bargain.
So I was duly thrilled at the sale pair of shoes I talked myself into getting. A little on the big, Bozo-look side but a wonderful day-shoe, I thought. (No, it’s not the plastic shoes that start with a “C” that are so popular). Heck, I’ve got big feet anyway. I often say ”l’ll just wear the boxes” ’cause my shoe size is big to begin with and I can count on getting a laugh from any shoe salesperson with that remark. I read that Jackie O wore a ten. So you can be stylish and planted firmly on the ground.
There I was, behind the wheel, at a complete, dead stop waiting for oncoming traffic to clear, wheels cranked to make a turn. Even in slow-mo re-living what happened it still boggles my mind. Can’t blame being distracted by talking on the cell phone (no hands-free, not me), eating, fiddling with the radio, someone talking to me, putting on makeup . . . no multiple activities were going on to split my attention.
I just like to drive; not do all those things while I’m driving. Wasn’t in a hurry or fritzing around. Was I fatigued or stressed? Maybe.
Those oversized shoes got caught somehow between the completely familiar feel of the brake and the gas pedals and in an instant the car jolted as in that same instant I was pulling to get that shoe unstuck. The car bolted in a sharp turn right into a tree. Have you ever experienced airbag deployment? Son-of-a-bitch it’s like a bomb going off right in front of you. Another thing about older cars airbags is they didn’t have the passenger seat sensor that says whether the passenger seat is occupied or not which is a common improvement now. Both airbags exploded. The tree was all around me. Guess it was movies or TV that threw me into a panic of ‘I’ve got to get out of here before it explodes’. I found out later that was a real long shot . . . it usually doesn’t happen. Heck, I didn’t know. No way I wasn’t getting out of that car and I did. Breathing hard I fought my way out of that mess of branches blocking the driver’s door.
I walked away from totaling my lady car.
In the weeks that followed as the minor cuts and airbag burns healed I realized how lucky I was. All those years and miles of driving and I’d never hurt a passenger or hit anyone. When I think of how bad it could have been, if I’d hit a kid on a bicycle or injured a family member or friend riding with me I don’t think I’d have been able to forgive myself. So when my number came up to have a car accident it was the best way it could have happened. That herky little tank of a car saved me from serious injury.
That ten-dollar pair of shoes cost me my car, but nothing else. Within days they told me the car was totaled. Jaybors! (my common expression). I thought that car was worth so much more that it was. The cost to fix it was way over the top. Time to let go again.
I took a picture of those shoes before I got rid of them to the thrift store donation drop-off.
I figure I got a clean slate again and my number won’t come up for quite awhile.
It was just a bad pair of shoes.
© 2009 Christine Lakeland