Thursday, May 26, 2016

Trash and Tickets

We drive our cars into the ground—quite literally in to the ground, sometimes, before the end, you can see the ground under your feet, through the floor. It’s our culture. It’s our way.

We had a green van that would only go backwards, so we used it to take the garbage out to the curb for a while. I can tell you that it takes some planning when your vehicle only goes backwards to get from here to there. We also used that van as a battery charger for an electric fence.

When stuff starts to fall off our vehicles, we pass the crap-cars down to our children. It’s our culture. It’s our way.

Maren, our youngest daughter, inherited my Grand-Am. It had a bumper sticker that said, “Proud Parent of an American Soldier,” a driver’s side mirror hanging by wires, and no window on the driver’s side, but it still went forward and backward. It was perfectly fine. The law enforcement officer that pulled Maren over for speeding agreed.

By the time the good officer got to the car, Maren was hysterical—booger crying, laughing, and possibly braying like a donkey.

He asked for her license and said, “Do you realize you were going forty-six miles per hour in a thirty-five zone.”

Maren began to yowl.

Shocked, he asked, “Why are you cying?”

Blubbering, she said, “Because (sounds of wailing) my . . . parents (yowling) are going . . . to . . . kill me (howling mixed with yowling.)” She handed him her license.

“Why is the side mirror in your front seat?”

“Because my brother ran into a mailbox, ripped it off . . . (wailing sniffles) and my dad tried to epoxy it back on but all he epoxied was his pants, and this car is a piece of junk . . .” She trailed off into a flurry of post nasal dripping.

The officer paused and said, “Well, it’s good enough to go forty-six in a thirty-five zone.” She started to laugh wildly with intermittent sobbing. 

Then he asked, “What’s that under your leg?”

“My . . . cell phone,” she hiccupped.

“Why is it under your leg?”

Her dignity gone, her life a shipwreck on the shoals of emotional despair, she did not have the presence of mind to lie.

She wailed, “So I can feel it vibrate when someone calls.”

He started to laugh at her and then he walked over to his partner, told him the sad tale of woe and travail, and they started to laugh at her, and then—still laughing—the officer walked back to Maren sitting in her puddle of misery and said, “Thanks for making me laugh. Slow down next time.”

She sailed away, the wind from the broken driver’s side window drying the tears on her chin and cheek.

We did not kill her. It’s not our culture. It’s not our way.

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