Beep, Beep -- 08/09/02

Friday Five
1. Do you have a car? If so, what kind of car is it?

I drive a 1999 Toyota Corolla. I also own a 1992 Honda Civic, but that's really my daughter's car. My wife has a 1996 Toyota Camry.

2. Do you drive very often?

Yes, constantly. My round-trip office commute is 41 miles... but then add running into town on errands, going grocery shopping, etc.... it all adds up.

3. What's your dream car?

Hmmmm, probably something like a Porshe 911. Maybe a BMW or Mercedes Benz or... heck, I'd settle for a Mazda Miata.

When I was in college I was into sports cars, subscriptions to Car & Driver, Sports Car Illustrated, etc. There was a Austin Healy Sprite -- one of the old "bug-eyed" Sprites -- that I almost bought, backed out at the last minute because it needed a valve job and I was worried about being able to afford maintenance and repairs. (I ended up with a VW Beetle.)

My favorite car was a Toyota Celica that I bought back in 1972. I put many miles on that car, fun to drive, very reliable, looked sharp. In fact, in the early 80's we bought a used Celica that we also put many miles on.

More recently I was lusting after a Subaru Forester, had been researching facts and figures, etc. While spending a weekend with friends in England I mentioned to my hostess that I was thinking about buying a Forester and she said "Did Gary put you up to this?" and showed me a stack of Subaru literature her husband had collected. The next time I was in England we got together for dinner at an Indian restaurant and, sure enough, Gary and Sue drove there in his new Forester. I ended up buying my Corolla, partly because I have always had good results with Toyota (those Chevy Novas I owned were really Toyota Corollas built in a California factory jointly owned by Toyota and GM; pop the hood and look at the engine: it says "Toyota") and partly because it was seven thousand dollars less than buying a Forester.

4. Have you ever received a ticket?

Yes... from time to time...
  • 1964 -- 40 in a 30 zone (a bum rap, I had not been speeding but when I went to court the judge told me that the officer would not have written me a ticket if I hadn't been speeding... so seeing how much justice was going to be available in that court, I pleaded guilty and paid the fine)
  • 1977 -- failure to signal for a turn
  • 1977 -- 55 in a 45 zone
  • 1995 -- expired inspection sticker
  • 1998 -- 38 in a 25 zone

5. Have you ever been in an accident?
Yes, mostly minor, although I did total a car once.
  • 1967 -- a deer ran into the passenger side of my brand new Chevy II, dented the door
  • 1972 -- somebody backed out of a parking space without clearing the snow from their back window and hit my Toyota Celica on the driver's door as I was driving past.
  • 1972 -- one week later I was driving through a shopping center parking lot when a driver coming the other way decided to make a left turn -- and slammed into the side of my car, taking out my front fender, driver's door, rear quarter panel, and all the glass on that side. (The other driver asked me if I had seen her turn signal and I replied "Yes, that's how I knew you were going to hit me.")
  • 1987 -- I was on my way to pick up Sean from daycare when a woman coming the other way wanted to make a left turn at an intersection... she waited for the pickup truck in front of me and then (she said she didn't see me) made her left turn right in front of me -- I'd slammed on my brakes but there was not enough time to change the outcome -- right front corner of her big Detroit land barge (an Olds or a Buick, can't remember) dead center in the middle of my front grill -- thank goodness for seatbelts and shoulder straps -- my glasses flew off and bounced off the windshield, lost one of the lenses (scared some people in other cars because they couldn't see me after the collision, I was feeling around on the floor trying to find my eyeglasses) -- The tow truck driver pulled her fender back from her tire, changed the tire, and she was able to drive away; my car (less than a year old) was taken away on a flatbed trailer and later declared to be a total loss. It turned out that she did not have insurance so my car was replaced by my collision coverage, but I had to eat the deductible (at a time when money was tight). My insurance company (Met) was so obnoxious and so difficult to deal with that once they finally paid me, I switched to State Farm. (State Farm was a marvelous company and the only reason I am not still with them is that they have no offices in Rhode Island.)
  • 1990 -- This one was my fault -- Driving the Nova I'd bought to replace the one that had been totalled, I bumped into a trailer being towed by a state highway department truck! It was at an entry ramp onto Rt 17 in Binghamton, NY. This was a poorly designed ramp, only a few feet to merge with the highway traffic which is zipping along around 70 mph (although this section was posted for 45 or 50) -- I was behind the truck on the ramp as they waited for a chance to pull out -- they started forward and I began to move forward to take my place at the front of the line waiting to merge, looking over my left shoulder to see if there was enough of an opening coming along for me to move out, and when I looked forward again I realized the highway truck had stopped and I didn't have time enough to stop. I hit the back of their trailer at barely a walking pace -- I'd just been edging up, not even 5 mph -- but although I didn't leave a scratch on them, it crumpled my grill and hood.
  • 1996 -- Still driving the same Chevy Nova I was in 1990, except with a few (*grin*) more miles on it... stopped behind a pickup truck in a line of traffic at a red light on Rt. 138 in Rhode Island... another pickup truck came out of a side street and onto the highway, apparently the morning sun was shining on the frost on his windshield so he didn't notice that traffic was stopped until just before he ran into the back of my car, pushing me into the vehicle in front, making my car the filling in a pickup truck sandwich. My car was still driveable, but with lots of body damage to both front and back.
Sean took his road test last week and passed easily -- then came the hard part, dealing with the endless delays at the motor vehicle office waiting to get his actual license issued. It took two hours of waiting. Small state; big bureaucracy.

Last night he had a driving lesson from AAA. Yes, he already has his license, but completing this safe driving class (three two-hour on-the-road classes) will mean a discount on insurance (as well as adding to parental peace of mind). The instructor had a lot of praise for Sean, said he was a fine driver, that he would never have guessed that he'd only had his license for a week, and complimented me for being a good driving teacher. I knew that Sean was good in terms of driving skills; my concern is more with the hazards of seventeen year old male thought processes.

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