Friday, September 9, 2011
An Urban Legend...?
When I was a kid I read about a car crash that happened in the State of Ohio back in the late 1800's in which two cars collided. The fact that there was an accident wasn't that interesting, until you consider that they were the only two cars in the state of Ohio at the time. That story always stuck in my head because of the sheer implausibility.
So, I tried to verify this story. The best I could do was to come up with two conflicting accounts with the same premise - one set in 1895, the other in 1906 - both in Ohio. Even though the story is included in several different publications, it has all the earmarks of an urban legend.
But is it plausible?
I found that by making two simple changes in the story, it becomes not only plausible, but very believable. The simple changes are:
Replace "State of Ohio" with "My Driveway"
Replace "1906" with "Last Week".
Yes. It is no longer an urban legend. I did, in fact, crash into my very own car in my very own driveway.
I'm so proud.
You see, our garage is on the side of the house, requiring a small 3-point turn to take a straight shot to enter the garage. I can do it in my sleep, and often do. Last week I pulled into the driveway, and reversed to swing the back end of my truck around. And the truck stopped. Confused, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw nothing. Side-view? Nothing. Then I turned around to look out the back window. There, tucked neatly into my blindspot, was one of my cars. With the ashen-faced FOMLs gripping the wheel.
Apparently, my impatient son figured there was a split-second opening were he could slip past me before I backed up, and park in his normal spot. He guessed wrong. Crunch.
Aha! Now was my test. A test to see what kind of man I am becoming. The test to see if D&C 121 is making inroads into my heart.
How did I respond? How would you respond?
Here is what I did: I sat in my truck, put my head on the steering wheel, and waited. I didn't jump out to assess the damage. I didn't look to see what my son was doing. I just sat. I was really angry. My mind raced through the list of substitute swear words that you all have so generously supplied (here), but found them lacking. I finally settled on "Aaaaaarrrgh!" a la Charlie Brown. It kinda did the job.
I then rolled down my window and motioned for my son to pull his car up so we could both park. I glanced at the damage, then walked to the mailbox. Meanwhile, my son was pacing around apologizing "Dad, I'm so sorry...".
I got the mail, looked at my stricken son and said "I love you." Then I went in the house, straight into my bedroom and shut the door.
How did I do?
You might not be impressed, you might think me cold, but I consider it a huge personal victory. The normal prescription for such an occurrence includes verbal fireworks, and huge quantities of guilt heaped upon the offending child. (Please note that I am not bragging. The fact that I even consider this a personal victory is evidence that I am deeply flawed and have a long way to go.)
Later, with a cooler head, I talked to my son, accepted his apology, and took the car to get the damage assessed. $1600. I also accepted 10% of the blame, and 100% of the responsibility for the deductible.
No swearing, no accusation, no yelling. One forgiven son. The stuff of legend.