Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I’m in the white car

If you happen to see me walking around a parking lot this week, seemingly meandering from vehicle to vehicle, don’t worry. It will just be me looking for my car.

This week, it turns out, I’m in a rental vehicle. Last week, a delivery truck smushed the door of my car. (“Smush”, incidentally, is NOT a technical automotive industry term – and actually doesn’t even show up in most English language dictionaries – but it’s the only word which can adequately describe precisely what happened to the door of my car.)

The rental vehicle is white. It has a name – probably something like Ford, Chevy, Dodge, or TamishiakiYomasukiSushhama – but car makes and models go in one ear and out the other with me. All I know is it’s white.

You may know this about me: I am not a car person. I can’t tell them apart. They’re all about the same to me. I can’t tell you what’s under the hood of my car. Actually, I HAVE owned cars that I’m not really sure which end WAS the hood.

What I know about a car is this: I go out in the morning and put the key in the ignition and turn the key and either it starts or it doesn’t. If it starts, I drive it. If it doesn’t, oh well, I guess I just have to find a different car.

As a result of a total lack of knowledge, understanding, and concern about all things automotive, I have amassed a pretty long list of car tales in my lifetime… far too many to recount in this space in a single week. It would take several weeks… and I just might do that.

But these honest-to-goodness, absolutely-true tidbits will give you a clue how I am with cars: I once owned a car which broke down so often, it had a trailer hitch installed on the front bumper for ease in towing! I once lost a car. And I once painted a car myself… with a paintbrush.

Obviously, I am not mechanically inclined. The only tool I have ever found even remotely useful in repairing a car is a hammer.

And now, as automotively-challenged as I am, I face the additional problem of driving a car that looks exactly like half the other cars on the road. It’s a little white car… and that’s really all I know about it.
And, to make things worse, I’m just a tad absent-minded. Sometimes, right in the middle of doing something, I completely forget to

So, when I go into the grocery store, absent-mindedly bumbling along the aisles in search of grocery items I can’t remember at locations I can’t recall, I’m also very likely to forget exactly where I parked my little white rental car.

A few years ago, when I was travelling from Columbia to Charleston in a similarly nondescript borrowed car, I stopped at the rest area near Orangeburg. When I came out of the restroom, to my dismay, I had no clue which of the 50 cars in the rest area I had been driving. Through the miracle of Electronic Cell-phones, however, I was able to contact the owner of the car and establish the color, size and tag number. And, 49 cars later, I found it!!!

Normally, it’s not a big problem for me. Sure, I forget where I parked, but it rarely takes me more than a half-hour to find my car, because it’s usually the only one of it’s kind in the lot. Like my rental, it’s white… BUT it’s old and big and rectangular… with a blue top. My car is usually easy to find, because it’s roughly the size of a WWII battleship, and shaped a lot like a Ramada Hotel. And, just in case there are two, mine is the one with the assortment of brightly-colored bumper stickers plastered on it, ranging back to the “I Like Ike” era.

This week, I’m trying to avoid going to the grocery store, to avoid the embarrassment of losing my car. But one can only go so long without nourishment.

If you see me in the parking lot, peering into the window of every single white car, don’t fret. It’s just me trying to find the one with a hammer on the front seat.

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