Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Well-Written Student "auto" biography -- Robert Buchsbaum III, "An Old Flame and a New Romance in Carmanship"

Robert Buchsbaum III

Hst 485: Seminar: Automobiles

Sept 3, 2010

Auto-Biography: An Old Flame and a New Romance in Carmanship

My first car, a 2006 Red Ford Expedition, was meant to last forever—at least, according to my juvenile sense of romanticism. Alas, it only lasted 2 years before fate caught up with me! My senior year at Beavercreek High School, my parents got tired of their red Ford Explorer. It was their biggest car, the one they liked to use for vacation driving. They decided to “trade up” to a bigger and newer Ford car. After getting the Expedition, they decided it should be my car for driving to school and around town. It was quite a big car, in terms of size and roomy interior. I fondly remember all the stuff I could fill its insides with…groceries galore, school books, football clothes, and the million and one flotsam and jetsam of a high school student’s busy existence. It was the car that took me on my first “blind” date. I remember arriving at the Beavercreek Regal Cinema off Fairfield Road with a freshly purchased orchid, nervous about meeting someone for the first time. Although the date began sensibly and the movie, a comedy, was quite good, the date ended abruptly when the lady in question decided to terminate the date after the movie ended. It was also the car that took me to the High School Prom in May of my senior year and the “after prom” reception at the Kettering Recreation Center off Dorothy Lane Road. I drove back and forth to Sinclair College from home in Beavercreek to attend classes leading to my Associate degree while still a high school student.

“Red” and I also went on out of town excursions. With my mother as assistant driver, I drove the car down to Jacksonville, Florida in the summer of 2008 to participate in the Jacksonville Jaguars football training camp. I drove most of the distance through several Southern states and remember vividly the palm trees, sand, and girls on the beach while driving around Florida during off hours from the camp. The car performed well except for a flat tire due to a random nail that pierced the tire near the camp.

The Expedition was my faithful car companion as I went to archaeology summer dig camp at Heidelberg College. I was one of 6 transient students selected to help Dr. Bush in his archaeological digs at Johnson’s Island, the site of a Civil War military officer prison. “Red” helped out as I shopped for computer outlets and other supplies including food at Wal-Mart during the several weeks there.

It seemed as if this blissful car romance would last forever, at least in my juvenile imagination of the time. As Fall rolled around and my first year at University of Dayton began, I looked forward to having the car transport me, as a commuter, back and forth each day. At first this worked very well. The routine of travel, parking, schooling, and driving home became ingrained as if part of my inborn instincts.

The rains of early Winter fell and one day tragedy struck. The early morning roads around my home neighborhood in Beavercreek had become slick with frozen ice. This was a memorable morning because all around town there were reports of innumerable car accidents. However, I was not an early morning radio listener or television watcher, so I missed out on this vital precautionary information. I was running late and in a hurry.

There are many twists and turns of the small tertiary roads in my neighborhood. Two of them, at opposite ends from my parent’s home, have earned the dubious appellation “Dead Man’s Curve.” While no deaths have occurred from traffic accidents at either of these curves, the appellations have stuck because of the extreme curvature of both roads. As might be expected, these curving road sites can be extremely hazardous during bad weather.

I approached one of these Dead Man’s Curves unaware of the slickness of the roads, but focused more on my haste to get to UD class. As I turned the corner with Red, suddenly I felt my car lose its grip on the road and begin skidding. At this point in the road, all of the front yards steeply climb upward about 20 feet, where the foundations of the houses are built. Along this steep gradient there are numerous concrete steps alongside the rising driveways that lead up to people’s garage doors.

As Red careened toward one of these residences, I realized the car was heading toward a stone mailbox. In trying to avoid hitting the mailbox, the car started rising up the front lawn toward a tree in the middle of the yard. It was a grand tree, old and huge in size, a venerable denizen of the neighborhood. Before another second had passed, Red and the Tree became one. While the tree braked Red’s skidding out of control acceleration to zero, it also completely pulverized the front of the car.

I was shaken but not injured. Almost immediately, a little old lady, the home owner, popped out of her front door like an angry little squirrel. She did not come to my assistance but went back into her house and emerged several minutes later with a cell phone. Using it as a camera, she began to take dozens, maybe hundreds, of photos of the accident scene.

I still had my own cell phone, so I called my mother immediately to report the accident. She was out there by the scene in a few minutes. The police had been notified but were so busy with the infinitude of other car accidents occurring that they did not show up for another 3 hours.

Meanwhile, my mom saw what the lady homeowner was doing with her cell phone. She angrily asked the lady what was she doing, taking pictures for the insurance company instead of seeing if I was hurt or not, or if I needed to go to the hospital. The lady, who happened to be the wife of a retired military, was embarrassed to be caught in this inhumane posture. It was not until the cops arrived, I was safely in my mom’s Mercedes, and then the lady comes down to my mom’s car and asks me if I am alright.

Red had been totaled by the accident. I was crushed by the loss and the realization that we would not be able to have the car repaired.

Several days later, our family settled upon a replacement car. It was even bigger and redder than Red: A huge, Hummer H3. Although China was about to take over the Hummer business from GM, our Voss salesman assured us that Cadillac would continue to honor servicing these cars. It was sad to have to leave the Expedition, but a car new romance was about to begin, this time with a Hummer.

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