Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Auto-Biography -- Lisa, a 1990 Mustang Convertible, and a Groundhog

My first car was any teenager’s dream –a shiny, red, 1990 convertible Mustang. I remember cruising around, back in the days when Dad paid for gas and always kept the tank full. I would ride out into the Ohio countryside, listen to music (which may or may not have been either rock music or boy-band pop music), and let myself be a teenager. That car, named “Stanley the ‘stang,” and I have a history. This next story about me and Stanley is one of my favorites. I call it “Groundhog Day”:

The only fender-bender I’ve ever been in was with Stanley. I was driving away from the mall with my best friend, wind in our hair, music blasting, and I failed to see a shiny new Mercedes Benz coming to an abrupt stop right in front of me. Everything occurred in slow motion, thanks to adrenaline, and I saw out of the corner of my completely freaking out eye, a brown thing scurry away. We weren’t going more than 35 miles per hour, so there was no real damage to the vehicles, aside from a scratch on the driver’s bumper. She, however, was a ridiculous human being, and decided to call the POLICE?!? Over a SCRATCH?? Couldn’t she have just accepted my insurance and genuine remorse for following too close? I immediately had a nervous breakdown of epic proportions, while my best friend was dealing with the other lady, who kept saying “Well, I just had to stop for him. It’s not my fault.” My mom ended up arriving shortly thereafter, and calmed me down. The officer who arrived had to leave almost as soon as he got there, for, I don’t know, a real reason to call the police, probably. This meant we were going to the POLICE STATION. As if I couldn’t cry any harder. In the end, the insurance company took care of the matter anyway. Though, not before the snotty lady I rear-ended called our house, and said that the estimate to replace the entire bumper was going to be about $800. My mom was the one who dealt with her, and if I recall correctly, she politely, but coldly, said that she should talk to our insurance company, because it was completely inappropriate to call our household, and to kindly not call ever again. GO MOM!

A few weeks later I ended up going to juvenile court (wahoo), standing in front of the judge, and telling my story. The conversation went something like this:

Judge: “ Lisa Heitmann, please come to the front of the court. It says here you rear ended a vehicle not too long ago, is that right?”

Me: *sweating profusely* “Yes, ma’am.”

Judge: “What was the cause of this accident? The officer wrote that the accident didn’t occur at an intersection.”

Me: “That’s right ma’am. The lady in front of me abruptly stopped because she saw a groundhog in the middle of the road, and didn’t want to hit it.”

Judge: *chuckles* “Oh, my, a groundhog? REALLY? Well, in fender-benders like this, it’s normally a wake-up call for the driver in the rear to not follow so close. That being said, it’s always important while in the car to weigh your options when coming to an abrupt halt for a rodent. If there’s a question between saving the life of an animal versus a human, there really isn’t a question, is there?”

Me: “Um, no ma’am.” *Beginning to hear a choir of angels singing the Hallelujah chorus*

Judge: “Alright, I think you’ve learned a lesson. I’m waiving the ticket fee, and all you will have to pay is court cost.”

Me: “Oh, gosh, thank you!”

And so ended my first, and hopefully last, visit in front of a judge. I doubt few people ever feel as vindicated as I did in a traffic court room. All I could think was “I KNEW THAT LADY WAS WRONG!”, even though I was wrong too. For the record, I think she was more wrong, and I’m sticking by it. Thankfully, the fender-bender didn’t cause any physical harm to any of the humans involved, the damn groundhog was just peachy, and Stanley only had to have a minor adjustment to his hood with a rubber mallet.

So, my advice to y’all would be to floor it next time you’re driving down Mad River Rd. in Dayton, Ohio and you see a groundhog crossing. He’s got whatever’s coming to him.

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