Riding in Cars

The other week my mom and I were discussing one of the more volatile controversies that continually divides this country. Yes, I’m talking about two-door vs. four-door cars. Who cares how we got on the subject? The question brought before the panel (me, I’m the panel) was why is insurance higher for two-door cars. Before I know it I’m explaining to her that insurance rates are lower for people who own four-door cars because the insurance companies tend to think that the people who own them are more family oriented, less inclined to take risks (like drag racing with friends, taking dares on the number of donuts they can do in parking lots, or driving every day like they’re the getaway car from a massive bank robbery and the entire Sheriff’s office is on their tail), and overall just safer. Two-door car owners are more reckless, at least in the insurance company’s eyes, and, hence, more likely to get into an accident, so they get the higher premium.

My Mom interjected that despite the higher priced premium, she always insisted that our family have a two-door car when my brother and I were growing up. I will take a small detour here (ha! pun intended!) to say that you could not find a more stable, down-to-earth, no-risk-taker, family oriented kind of gal than my mother. But the inflated premium was worth it to her, or so she said.

I personally couldn’t understand why she opted for the two-door car. It seems so logical to me to upgrade to four doors when there are kids involved. I mean, it’s easier to get them in and out of the back seat in general, easier to buckle them into the car seats when they’re small, and we didn’t have to deal with that awkward climb into and out of the car over the folded down seat (with elbows to the head of whoever is in the front seat). It just seemed practical.

Then my mom explained her point of view. First of all, car seat? Ha! Not part of the equation back in those days. Yeah, okay, that makes sense. Second, only having two doors meant that there was no chance my brother and I could throw each other out of the car. Third, having only two doors meant we couldn’t carry through any brilliant ideas of jumping out of the car ourselves. That reasons 2 and 3 were likely scenarios to pop up in my mother’s head sort of sums up my childhood.

Looking back, I can easily envision both of those hilarious tragic events happening if we had the luxury of back seat doors. My brother and I were basically a live-action version of Spy vs. Spy. Take our constant battling, stuff it in a confined metal cage for a few hours, hurl it down a highway at 60 miles per hour, and one way or another one of us would find a reason to pop open that back door to show the other one the exit. Unfortunately, I mean, luckily, yes, luckily, my mom could imagine this too and preemptively put an end to that.

Each summer my father, with the whole family in tow, would navigate over the precarious road that led to my grandparents’ house. Well, this road, barely wide enough for a vehicle, ran snugly along the tall mountain on one side and on the other side was nothing but air. I’ve brought this up before…how my brother and I tried to drive my mother insane by jumping up and down on one side of the car trying to make it flip over the edge. If we had a four-door car for these treks! Oh my goodness how things would’ve changed!

I can see my brother now, swinging from the car door, legs dangling wildly in mid-air, hanging on for dear life. My parents would look back and wonder: did he jump out thinking he could fly? Did he think he could hop from the car onto the branch of a passing tree? Then, they’d look over to the other side of the back seat, where little ol’ Wendy—with her angelic doe eyes and impossibly cute grin—is sitting peaceful as a fawn, and they’d wonder to this day if something more menacing had happened to send my brother flapping in the breeze. I mean, really…who’s to say? Knowing us, it could’ve gone either way. Either scenario is equally plausible, but thankfully no one will ever know.

All because my mother had the supreme forethought to buy a two-door car.  You’d think the insurance company would’ve given her a discount for her smart car choices given the money she surely saved them, but no. I guarantee you though, had they known her little bundles of joy, they would have.


So. Apparently I have issues with walking now. Crossing the street at a red light today I twisted my ankle and nearly fell out right there in the middle of the intersection. Now albeit, we’re talking small town…Mayberry small…so it’s not like I was in any danger of being run over or causing a massive traffic jam or anything like that.  There are exactly two traffic lights in my entire town, this being one of them. So, yeah. We’re Small Town, USA.  But still. Not exactly something you want to have happen, falling out in the middle of an intersection, even if it is a one-horse-town.

I made it across the street okay – I mean, if I hadn’t, we’d be having a completely different conversation as I’d be dead from embarrassment and it’s sort of hard to carry on a conversation with dead people. Unless I was a zombie.  But even then, all I’d be able to do is grunt and groan and maybe, if you follow the newer movies, screech.  I guess we’d have to resort to charades. And I suck at charades. So all in all, while my ankle and foot hurt like hell, the situation ended well.  Ha!  Made a rhyme AND I’m not a zombie.  All is good with the world.

Anyway, as soon as it happened, my mind immediately went into overdrive because the last thing I wanted to do was to be stuck there, in the middle of this freakin’ intersection with a sprained ankle, or just as bad, my back going out because of the sudden jolt of panic and weird ballet contortion maneuver I did to keep from falling, which essentially would cement me to the spot, and all because my feet decided they didn’t want to walk right today.

I would love to blame a rock, a pebble, a lift in the asphalt, anything to save my pride. But there was nothing. It was all flat ground, with nary a minute obstacle in sight. My feet just decided to play with me.  “Oh hey, she’s having a pretty good day today, she’s getting cocky with that happy attitude of hers, can’t let that happen. Let’s see what we can do to torment this socially awkward introvert.  I know!  We’ll wait until she’s in the middle of an intersection, in front of loads of people, and then just twist for no reason whatsoever and watch her fall on her face.”

For me, the embarrassment is worse than pain, so I immediately kept walking, which probably wasn’t a good thing, and I ended up having to lean against the building right across the road to catch my breath and say a few choice curse words…the ones my mother hates to hear.

And I tell you all this story to tell you this story:  My faith in humanity is restored at least for today. Tomorrow some schmuck will come along and screw it up. But for today I was thinking that not all people are bad.  For as I lay there against the building muttering my colorful epithets, this lovely individual — a compassionate and kind lady, who no doubt had better things to do and more interesting places to be, stopped to ask me if I was okay.  She saw me misstep and wanted to see if I was hurt and needed help.

Now this may not seem like much to some people, but then you think about the fact that she had a choice; she could have just as easily driven on, like everyone else did safe in the knowledge of their own self-centered tunnel vision that at least that crazy woman didn’t fall down in the road, so she must be fine and after all, they have to be somewhere that’s not here wondering about someone who apparently can’t even walk a straight, flat line. She could’ve slowed down and looked to assure herself that all was well, as perhaps others did (I don’t know, I was distracted by coming up with new sentence combinations that would’ve impressed a well-traveled Sailor). But no. Nothing would do but for her to actually pull over and stop…to reach out to another person, to be compassionate and empathetic, to offer her help and more importantly, her time.

So despite my foot trying to kill me through its sheer lack of competence or desire to be bothered with its job (you had one job!), my day got right back on track due to this nice lady I didn’t even know from Adam.  You just don’t see this type of everyday humanity much anymore. At least not around here. She must be from out-of-town.

The Myth

I hear a lot of magazine articles, romance novels, and chick flicks try to make it seem as though women are these seriously complicated creatures, but I’ll let you in on a secret…we’re not really all that complex. Or at least this woman is not. I mean, honestly, most of the time I’m just pondering what I’m going to eat later.  That and trying to remember just why the hell I came into this room.


having deep thoughts