1) The first car I ever owned I killed on a snowy night driving back from the Manchester, NH airport by driving it at 75 mph in 4th gear. I hadn’t driven it in months, and I had forgotten there was a fifth gear. My brother, who had come to pick me up, started walking to get help and disappeared. He had crossed the highway to the other side and found the liquor store while the police told me to stay where I was. We eventually got the the thing towed away and called my mother, who had to find someone to come pick us up because she had no car herself. We waited at a Dunkin’ Donuts until 4 am, when we were finally rescued.
2) I have only run out of gas once in my life, but it was in the middle of Dupont Circle during rush hour in Washington, D.C. Not only was I in Dupont Circle, but I was also stuck in a bus stop. I had to get out of my car and run to the nearest gas station at 23rd and P, buy a gas container, put some gas in it, run back to my car, and take off before the police could grab me. Luckily the cop was arguing with a bus driver who was unable to pull in to his stop, so I got away with no trouble.
3) When my wife and I got married we spent all of our wedding gift money on a car that we now refer to as “The Blue Lemon.” It broke down in New Jersey on the way home from our honeymoon, stuffed to the gills with wedding presents and our friend McCrim who was riding back from Vermont to D.C. with us. It was around that time that we also discovered that the doors did not lock, the engine was totally dead, and it had about 20 other problems too numerous to list here. But since we bought it from a friend of a friend, we never got our money back and the car was D.O.A.
4) Luckily my mother gave me her van to drive after that incident, except that after we got it, it immediately died as well. When we decided to bite the financial bullet and try to buy a new car, we were offered, as trade in values, $25 for the van and $50 for the Blue Lemon.
5) The dead van sat in our apartment complex parking lot for months, until the registration ran out and it got towed away. When we called about it, they told us that the van had been towed weeks ago and we had never noticed. There was also a per diem fee for vehicle storage that they expected us to pay. We told them we were not paying it and they could just keep the van, which they said was not how it worked Luckily the van was not in our name. We were just borrowing it from my mother. When her husband called the towing yard, they told him that if he didn’t pay the fee, they would have to keep his van forever. Problem solved.
6) Shortly after buying our new car, which we named “Claudia Devilfish,” we received a knock on our door from a police officer. A drunk driver had come into our parking lot and driven into and across several cars, smashing them up. Ours included, obviously.
7) While leaving a parking space in a parking garage, I failed to see a yellow pole that was next to my car. It was the same height as my hood, and thus invisible to me. So I backed out as if it were not there, severely denting my car for the rest of its life.
8) In grad school, I hit two other cars in a 30 day period. One because I dropped the water I was drinking and while I was instinctively trying to catch it the car in front of me braked quickly, and the other because the woman in front of me slammed her brakes on in the middle of the highway for no reason, coming to a complete stop. I hit her, and the guy behind me hit me. When I went to talk to her, she said that she had already called the police and that she was not giving me any information, because this was the fourth time this had happened to her in the last month and she knew that, legally, it was not her fault. So she sat in her car smiling and doing her nails while the police towed my car away.
9) Speaking of having my car towed away, I was at a Nationals game once and my car was towed away. I ran all over the city looking for it, and finally found the tow yard it had been towed to…5 minutes after they closed.
10) One time, driving from D.C. to Vermont for Thanksgiving, I got two speeding tickets in one day. The first in Baltimore at the beginning of the trip, and the second in Vermont, half an hour from my house.
11) Claudia Devilfish continued to have numerous problems, and by the time we sold her we had replaced: the transmission, the engine (because two of the pistons melted), the hood, the trunk, the wheels, the axles, the windshield, the brakes, the side mirrors, and pretty much everything except the seats and steering wheel.
12) Once, when we were getting onto the highway, the passenger side mirror suddenly flew off of the car and exploded against the window, freaking the heck out of my poor wife. And when we went to get a new one, we were told they didn’t have a mirror that fit, nor were they able to get one, so they would have to replace the entire assembly, for tons of money of course. So we drove it the rest of its days with no side mirror on that side.
13) After a rehearsal in Philadelphia one night, I completely lost my car. I forgot where I had parked it. I wandered for over 4 hours looking for it, even going so far as describing the block I thought I had parked it on to friends over the phone and having them check Google Maps street view for a similar looking location. This was in my pre-smart phone days. I finally called 911 and had a police officer drive me around looking for it. It was on the one block I hadn’t looked on, clearly. I got home at about 6 am.
14) Technically there were two times that I got two tickets in one day. I got a parking ticket in NYC once, and when I was checking the GPS on my phone for a route home I was pulled over and ticketed for using a handheld mobile device.
15) One time, in college, I bought an entire 30 pound dispenser of gummi worms from the student store. I had a lot of meal points left at the end of the semester. Except I left them in my car and they melted. That car smelled like gummi worms until the bitter end.
16) I borrowed a friend of a friend’s car once in college to go to a concert. Except it broke down, rather severely, in traffic on the way to the show. We abandoned it and walked to the show, getting there for the second half of it. Eventually, after the concert, we tried to either get the car towed, or get a cab back to D.C., but we had no money, so we could not tow it or get a cab. Also, we were told by the owner of the 7-11, in whose parking lot it was sitting, that we could not leave it there. So we pushed it into the bushes behind the store and walked away. I have no idea what happened to it. It may still be there.
17) We bought a second car in 2009, a white convertible, which had the awesome feature of losing power every few minutes while driving. So in the middle of the highway the radio would go out, the dash would go dark, and everything would stop, at 65 mph. But then it would come back on and we would be fine. We would just have to reset all of our radio settings again, which was very annoying.
18) The other day, some girl pulled out right in front me, causing me to smash right into her.
19) We finally got the car back from the autobody shop on Monday night, only to find that the speedometer was not functioning, and the check engine light was on. When I told them this, they told me this was because my battery was bad, and it was not their fault. I was going to bring it back in to them, except that then the car died completely, so I had to have it towed again yesterday.
20) Well, they tried to not fix it, but it turned out to be a blown fuse that ran the alternator and the speedometer. They reluctantly put in a new one, but told me that the check engine light was still on because I had a bad O2 sensor that was not accident related, and sent me home. Except last night I looked at the O2 sensor, and it is all kinds of shredded, with frayed and snapped wires and the protective casing all ripped away. And it was right near the point of impact from the crash, So today I get to go back a third time to fight with the car guys again. It makes me want to take the bus.