The Corolla smelled like burnt armpit. The immediately identifiable funk of a nearly new but entirely used-up rental car, equal parts mildew and blatant abuse. This was in addition to the broken hubcaps, the sticky food residue covering the dash, the wavy body that seemingly polished with a broom full of sand. The steering pulled subtly to the right in a manner that suggested some previous driver had made a game of running the car into ordinary street objects, like trees or a Walgreens. When I took delivery, the front seat was covered in human hair. Twenty-six thousand miles on the clock, and it might well have been half a million.
Still. A cloudless day. My phone was busily streaming a series of cheerily disposable pop songs into the stereo. A recently emptied Taco Bell bag sat on the passenger floor. Eight hours later, I would be in Chicago, where I would retrieve my truck from storage and use it to tow home a particularly beat-up old German car. Knoxville, Tennessee, to Illinois. Entirely interstate. Boring as dirt, even by the scale of Midwestern road trips.
The whole thing felt like a gift.
Read the full column on Hagerty.com:
It's amazing how a song's words at certain times can hit the target dead center:
"I see my folks, they're getting old
And I watch their bodies change
I know they see the same in me
And it makes us both feel strange
No matter how you tell yourself
It's what we all go through
Those eyes are pretty hard to take
When they're staring' back at you"
("Nick of Time" Bonnie Raitt); an acute assessment of how a seemingly small incident can shatter the myth of invincibility and total control that we maintain in our minds! I spent a month in the hospital after a fall with a subdural hematoma, compounded by a septic urinary tract infection. Recovery and subsequent rehab imparted a clarity not previously noticed in performing mundane everyday tasks! After that experience, another line from the same song expressed yet another truth: "Life gets mighty precious, when there's less of it to waste" Best of luck to your recovery and progress on the Tii! 🙂
Been there done that!
Six years ago I managed to shatter my left femur. That left me with two months of no driving and another two months in a rental with an automatic transmission and enough room to fit a wheelchair. My first tentative drives in one of the sports cars seemed to go okay, and as I no longer required the wheelchair I turned in the rental.
A couple of weeks later my car club went on a tour to the Reagan Library when it was hosting an exhibit of cars from the Peterson Museum. Our route took us via the backroads of the Santa Monica Mountains that make it such a great spot for road testing by various car magazines.
Until then I had been driving only the Porsche, which is rather user-friendly. But on that day I broke out the 1987 Ferrari 328 GTS, which was not quite so user-friendly. Oops. I discovered on those twisties that I had forgotten when and where to shift, and what gear to select. It was even more embarrassing among a group of driving enthusiasts, including a few with considerable track experience. Upon arrival at the Library I could only apologize profusely for my ham-fistedness (foot-fistedness?) .
A year later I had my left ankle fused and went through the drill again, although not as severe. But I finally learned my lesson. I went and bought an old Mercedes wagon with an automatic (gasp!) transmission and enough room to fit a wheelchair, knee scooter, or whatever. I still have the sports cars (I'm not dead), but the trick worked. Since buying the wagon, I have been free of orthopedic calamity (knock-on-wood).
after having a couple of motorcycle crashes that resulted in broken and fractured bones I certainly have symphathy for such events, maybe a little less for someone who just missed a step that resulted in the injury. Mine resulted in 2 months of recovery and rehabilitation but in the end I was able to swing my leg over the machine and return to the road of happiness. I sincerely hope that you will too!!
Nice piece, and a nice finish as we see the Tii coming home with an unrusty visage.
I knew not about "Proving Ground." Based on the Nick Lowery fashions (obscure "Antiques Roadshow" allusion) that Sam is sporting (?) in the photo, I may need time to prepare myself mentally and spiritually. My first thought: the man has got to support a family. My second thought: after that questionable wardrobing, his marriage may be in trouble, as possibly evidenced by the fact that his wife doesn't appear to mind if fashion forward Sam disappears for a day here and a day there so he can motor around the Smokies and reflect on why he's not the man he used to be. Third thought: I will watch the show; there will be some measure of redemption, right? [Five-year-old-daughter: "I think it's the best show since Peewee' s Playhouse."]
No words to songs that remind me that growing older is well, just inevitable and I'll take that over not being on earth anymore! It was 6 years ago when I got my reminder "Hey idiot, don't stand on a metal step ladder when it misting rain and lose your balance!" You guessed correctly, I have VIDID memories of falling in super slow motion toward the ground and that metal ladder laying on the ground just waiting to see what it could break on my 55 year old body! I actually fell across the open part of that metal step ladder sort of like breaking a branch over your knee! Two ribs and my left ulna (pinky side of your arm) in the few seconds following that fall, that seemed like an eternity, I could hear "someone" screaming this sound like I have never heard before and wondered to myself 'who is that screaming'....WELL, come to find out, it was ME!! I have talked to several people that have broken ribs, they confess to me they too had a similar experience!? Anyway, cast from armpit to hand, 11 weeks in a cast (old man bones don't heal very quick! Cute blonde doctor's words, not mine.) and countless hours of thinking to myself "Hey idiot, why, how did this happen!" Here's what I tell people when I get a chance to relate this story as it would apply to their lives, I simply state "Don't EVER break any ribs at 55 years old, or any age actually!"
I feel for you, Sam! In the Spring of 1985 I broke my left ankle, and severely sprained my right one. My daily driver was an X1/9, so I was relying on friends and family to get me around until I was able to drive again, about 6 weeks until the cast came off. Even with a "walking cast" I couldn't manage the clutch and throttle at the same time.
Parallel summer: most of it, and still, recovering from a detached retina's 4 surgeries. Really messes with depth perception, with frequent depth-perception issues that would otherwise be hilarious. But muscle memory and familiarity allowed me to reassemble a car, and drive, thank God. But enough of that; is that really a wood screw holding the rental car's key fob together ?!