A Bad Pair of Shoes


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


  22 Responses to “A Bad Pair of Shoes”

  1. Hi, I liked the story 🙂 A comical yet serious misfortune. I wonder what mayhem these shoes are causing somewhere else ! More importantly : what new car did you get ??? 🙂

    Thanks for the great music,


  2. I think John would agree: You’re worth more than the combined value of every C-class Mercedes ever made.

  3. Great story, Christine. I can relate in a way, as many miles as I’ve driven, I only had 1 accident in time that was the first year I started driving (I was 17). Now, pushing 30 in a few months, never have had an accident. I’m hoping the time won’t come, but always am careful of what is on my feet.

    I’m glad the story ended the way it did and it was just the car that was mangled.

    Keep safe.

  4. Nicely written story–I am sorry you lost your lady car…and good riddance to the shoes, I say.
    Maybe some of us van-ridin’ rock ‘n’ roll ladies are not meant to have lady cars.
    I hope you post some more stories here.

  5. Hi,

    nice story – I like it.

    rgds Alexander

  6. Ive seen you and JJ several times over the years – your harmony and playing and the songs are nothing short of outstanding!

    Always thought you have it light years over Tanya, Natalie, Martie & Emily… Keep playing and singing – youre an inspiring and an amazing talent!

  7. Nice story, Christine! I’m glad you are okay, and that you passed the shoes on……..I hope your new ride is sweet and your new shoes are red!
    Warm Regards……Jen

  8. This is good stuff. It reminded me of car accidents I had. Not due to shoes, due to watching someone smiling. Keep writing. It’s still the best way to find out what we are. Good luck on your musical path.
    There’s more noise all the time, we really need music that’s still human.

  9. Hi Christine, I had the good fortune to see you play(2 or 3 times) at a club in Denver called Herman’s Hideaway. This was probably in the late eighties/early nineties. I became a fan right away and picked up two of your CDs. I rarely write fan letters, however remembering your shows and how nice you were to talk with prompted this note. Sorry to read about your Lady Car…
    Cheers, John Ivey

  10. Christine, I enjoyed your short story because it reminded me of a
    similar accident I had(caused:).

    My father let me drive the family Pontiac station wagon to the local service station
    for an oil change.I was about 17 at the time and although now I know lots about old cars,
    I didn’t then. I adjusted the carb for better performance and made it idle too slowly.
    So I wedged a piece of wood between the brake and the gas and then I stupidly somehow
    put it in gear ,stepped on the brake and crashed into a corner of the brick service station and
    totally bending the left front fender and bumper. It could have been much worse… no one got injured
    , my dad made me pay for the damage and I never told any of my car buddies about it !
    I just spent 2 hrs on utube ,enjoying JJ and your music. I heard that you guys live in the Escondido area…Im in Oceanside. Do you and or JJ play anywhere locally? My girlfriend and I love listening to
    Troubador, JJ Cale 5 CD’s . I just turned 71 !! but I think JJ may be a couple of years older.
    Im blessed with good health and hope you and JJ are also. Don Sinclair

  11. Great tale. Better outcome than me. The guy was in a truck, changing a cassette…..looked up at the road …he hit that bear. No wait ! He hit me …wearing my Grandmother’s Muskrat coat. My head broke his windsheild. His truck broke my body……He got one night in jail & a fifty dollar fine.I got to experience being in a deep coma for 28 days…….. Drinking & drving do not mix..

  12. I just discovered you. I like your story and I may steal your line of wearing the shoe boxes instead of the shoes (but I will give you credit when I use it). You seem very relaxed and fun. It’s cool that you play guitar with JJ Cale and all the others. Your outlook on things is ineresting. What part of Michigan did you grow up in? I’m there now keeping America rolling. Anyway, I enjoy your music and look forward to discovering more of it.

  13. I remember when you got that car. What a beauty! I can’t stop thinking about you and JoAnn right now and the good times we all had. Much love,


  14. True story, the girl got lucky, all the better. Good thing the car was a qualty item else could’ve been much much worse.

  15. Christine,

    God Bless you! I have totaled a couple of ’em too… A wonder ’79 Camaro was one of them…

  16. Well, Ms. Lakeland….
    This tops off my three day Google/Youtube binge of J.J. Cale music, during which I became intrigued with you! There is so little said about you, but there you are in every video…. looking great and playing understated guitar…. adding so much class just by being there. Now, on top of that, your lady car story shows your sense of humor!
    I live up in Huntington Beach and have got to get to one your gigs if you play in southern California! Jaybors!! You are my generation of music!

  17. Great story and the intonation reminds of the times I saw you 30 years ago at the Lighthouse in Redondo Beach. You told some great stories between songs and we everyone had a great time. I’ve never been able to replicate those times. You were phenomenal.

    Glad to see you were driving the MBZ and not the old beatup van you drove back then. You broke your arm and had a big cast on it but the music was unchanged still fabulous – maybe even better with the cast as a prop.

    Hope you come back to Los Angeles and play – I’ll be there for sure. Would not miss it.

  18. I don’t know what a URI is so I left that one blank.

    I just want to say hello. I am a fan of yours and also of JJ. I am especially fond of the fact that you were so loving to JJ and always not far away. Your heart of gold shone on him and I suspect it shone on everyone you ever met just because that is your nature.
    We have something in common as I have driven just about everything that can be driven and have put miles on, back and forth across the USA. Only had one wreck also. I din’t fair as well as you, it was me on my Harley Heritage against a youngster in a car who decided to make a u-turn off the shoulder at the wrong time, for me at least.

    So hello to you, and may the blessings keep on pouring out in your path.

  19. You should have trashed those shoes, not allowed them to bugger anyone else.
    That said, your video of blues way back when is awesome.

  20. Hope all is well Christine. Loved the story. Maybe you should write some more. I am sure you have many a tale to tell. Hope to hear some new music from you one day, or maybe even some JJ unreleased material. Keep smiling!

  21. Hmm…thats the way it should be…. things come and things go..and other things pass by…(maybe not all trees) But that which happens to us..adds up…and adds up…and adds up…and we live a beautiful life…(if the things we can hold in our hand don`t distract us)
    And the odd thing I have found is that those looking for ever more to hold in their hand reached a point where they finally realized…it was what the hand did…and had the opportunity to do… (often dragging the rest of the body along)…not what it held… that made a life… And there they were as a friend again…in ages older…and the smiles and laughter were the same they were long ago…

  22. Awaiting “modertion”…? Thats funny…! I have been awaiting moderation my whole life… And now I find it on a comment…. Ya`ll get to moderatin`…and let me know how that goes for ya…!

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