a real-life adventure
Read Part XX here.
Now available in ebook format!
I arranged for the kids to see a movie with neighbors the following night, and I secretly returned to the Toyota dealership. I quickly picked the most unattractive Corolla on the lot, convinced I wasn't going to drive it. If I failed to fall in love with the car or driving, it wouldn't be hard to take it back. If I leased, the return penalties would be so high, I'd be too bitter to try again a few months down the road.
I knew what I was doing.
The salespeople were much more accommodating this time around. I explained once again I had been in a rollover accident, that I had not decided yet if I would ever drive again and that I needed a salesperson who would not pressure me. They stuck me with a shy guy, about ten years younger than me, whom they either save for just such occasion, or he sells only one or two cars a year. He was perfect.
He wanted me to take a short test drive around the block before I signed the paperwork. I told him I'd previously owned both of this car's identical triplet siblings and therefore a test drive would not be necessary. He asked if he could drive me around the block in it. Just so I'd know how the car felt. I got in the backseat.
He drove less than a block, parked at Albertson's and asked if I'd like to drive the car a few inches. I thought about the donuts, but then decided I wasn't hungry. He did a donut, then a figure eight. Then he did something totally bizarre. He parallel parked.
"At least now I know that particular maneuver is humanly possible," I chuckled.
"You sure you don't want to drive it?" he asked.
"Not necessary. Thank you for showing me how it runs."
He was quiet all the way back. Maybe he thought he'd lost the sell.
I signed the paperwork and asked for the CD player to be replaced with a cassette/CD deck. My kids' favorite traveling music, all the Disney classics, was contained on a cassette collection. Both my previous Toyotas had cassette decks. But they seem to be increasingly less popular.
The dealership threw in the stereo for free.
I asked for a ride home. They said I could take the car home and return it the next day for the stereo switch. I told them I didn't want to drive the car. One of the more aggressive salesmen took me home. En route, he assured me I was the most unusual customer he'd ever encountered.
Two days later, the dealership called to ask when I'd be picking up my new car. I asked if they could deliver it. That night, I had a forest green Corolla in my driveway and two new additions on my key chain.
Both kids were ecstatic. They were ready for our first road trip. And they did NOT think the car was ugly. Taz asked if he could invite some friends over for a slumber party. IN the car. !!!
I was thankful the car didn't give my kids the heebie jeebies, but consumed with worry and apprehension about taking their lives into my hands again. What if???
Insurance had been a real booger. Worse than the pair of accidents now haunting me was the time I spent not being insured. Who'd have figured? Staying out of cars so long now took a huge bite from my savings. The only companies that would negotiate with me catered to high-risk clients. I had landed in that very category. I was able to obtain reasonable premiums, but the deductibles, should anything go wrong, were outrageous. That was downright scary.
It wasn't challenge enough for me to conquer my fear of driving. Any calamity, and I'd be without transportation again for eons, trying to pay off a deductible. I wondered if it was worth it. It almost seemed more intelligent to do without insurance altogether — stash what would have been spent on premiums and use that if something went wrong. Unfortunately, that would have been illegal, even if it did seem more realistic. The bank probably wouldn't have liked it much either.
Fortunately, the only claim I ever filed on the homely Corolla was the result of a break-in the following Christmas. Someone made off with my custom stereo, my CD collection, my first aid kit and the kids' GameBoys while we attended a tree decorating party at my work. By the end of the four-year lease, I'd put a whopping 26,000 miles on the Ugly Duckling, in sharp contrast to my typical 26,000 or so a year mileage. No tickets, no accidents. Well, unless you consider Raz's tipped-over Big Gulp during a road trip the first summer an accident...
Ultimately, mileage proved to be one of the biggest healing tools in my recovery. At some point, perhaps when I was able to go shopping for competitive insurance rates again, I realized I'd racked up quite a bit of mileage in my lifetime – accident free! Or so I thought for at least a couple of minutes...
One day, out of sheer boredom, I listed my cars, their names, their mileage and their histories. Oops! I hadn't been quite so accident-free after all. Oh, yeah, there's a reason my dad teases me unceasingly about being the bull in the family's china closet.
I did have only one bad accident beneath my belt. The previous accidents were so minor, they were hardly worth recounting. Well, until that list found yet another ghost or two in my memory banks.
Read Part XXII here.
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Copyright 2013 by Deborah and Brett Atkinson