The Fun Tax.

Owning a car is costly. First you have to pay for the car, then gasoline, preventative maintenance, tires and other consumables, tolls, and finally other little things that you never seem to take into account when you buy the damn thing. My favorite recurring car cost was the Fun Tax. Because of the way my seat was adjusted, my legs sort of angled upwards from the hip, so sometimes when I goosed the throttle my pockets would empty and my loose coin would roll under the driver’s seat. I called that the Fun Tax because it usually only happened when I was really pusing the car to have some fun. Some pants would give up the ghost more easily than others, but it was always for the same reason: vroooooooooom.

I collected my return of $11.26 in Fun Tax from my car today. That was 32 quarters, 23 dimes, 11 nickels, and 41 pennies. That was my final withdrawal from her, and there will be no more in either direction.

Tonight, I write, and what compels me? My inspiration strikes from the usual suspects: anger, love, futility, and wine. Given the nature of my recent automotive situations, a wine by Mario Andretti (I kid you not) may not be the best choice. I think the only thing more fitting would be a wine by Dale Earnhardt, although, with all respect, his situation was much more dire. Alas, I am but being dramatic.

People suck at driving. Totally and completely. This is my observation from the past couple of weeks. On St. Patrick’s day, of all days, I had the severe luck to be rear-ended. The story told by the young’un who hit me was that he was behind someone else and their pace gave that vibe like “we’re all truckin’ and there is no cause for alarm”. Then, suddenly and without warning, they changed lanes to reveal me, Mr. Waiting-patiently-for-light-to-change-and-cars-to-go, and there was nothing for him to do but to slam on the brakes and ruin my day. Ruin my day he did. Grace was totaled. After all of the time, effort, and money I spent to tweak, tune, and get her just the way I wanted her, she was dead, and I was left with a broken heart and a mild case of whiplash.

Then, I got a rental car. It does not afford me the gratuitous visibility from the side windows and rear-view mirror that I came to love and appreciate from my station wagon, and I am disappointed. It does, however, have a trunk and a half, which I suppose is a good thing, since I almost had to fit an ambulance in it today. If you’re a little confused, don’t be, you read me right. AN AMBULANCE ALMOST REAR-ENDED ME. Seriously. I and the other cars on the road were all driving, and the flat-bed 18-wheeler in front of me locked up his brakes to skid to a stop, so in accordance with the situation I came to a safe stop, and the ambulance behind me came right up on me before changing lanes, narrowly missing me. One part of me wishes he had hit me so that we could expose the idiocy, and the other is glad that he didn’t on the off chance that there was someone in the back that needed medical attention. By the way, this was on the way to the insurance office to pick up the check that is supposed to console my weary heart for my loss of vehicle. Oh, the irony.

Also, last week, I was making a turn onto a two lane road and there was a squad car speeding in the suicide lane/median, lights on and siren blaring, and according to the expected conduct associated with that kind of situation I slowed down and looked for an opportunity to merge into the right-hand lane to get out of the way. The person in the right lane ahead of me MERGED LEFT INTO MY LANE AND STOPPED ABRUPTLY BEHIND THE CAR THAT I WAS FOLLOWING, WHO ALSO HAD STOPPED. I was looking right and back, so as to merge, and I looked up just in time to notice the stopped cars ahead of me. I missed the rearmost car by about a foot, and since the policecop had already passed, I just gunned it and got the heck out of Dodge. I don’t think you can blame me for that one, there was no way I wanted to be driving near those people anymore.

As for me, when the rental car free pass from the insurance company runs out, I think there is only one car for me to get, if I intend to survive until next year: Canyonero.