Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ugh. More Car Trouble.

Fate is a topic I've addressed on here before. I don't really believe in predestination, but I certainly think that there is some truth to the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy. What happens to us seems to be some arcane combination of things we've brought upon ouselves, mediated by random chance. We articulate our wills- these in turn meet the wills of others, and then there's the hand of chaos poking at us. I guess I can't help but anthropomorphize the experience.

Anyway, Monday night made me think anew about this. I went out for dinner, and was on my way home with the comfortable anticipation of being able to enjoy a few hours without obligation. I was satisfied and looking ahead fifteen minutes, instead of paying attention to what I was doing. This is not a good strategy for safe driving. My cell phone began to buzz, and I fished it out of my pocket, and in the next instant I was crashing into the guard rail on the entrance ramp. Just like that I had a brand new trouble. And somehow I think I must have needed one.

Sometimes I just have the intuition that something's going to break. The past few weeks have been chaotic, and have disrupted patterns and routines that I have built over a period of years. I'm really not complaining... many of the recent events and occurrences have been sought after. I've worked toward a certain set of results, and I have had the pleasure of realizing a few of them. It's been very enjoyable, yet simultaneously hectic. And this weekend I was already quite aware that I was in a state of chronic overstimulation. I was having difficulty fully processing the feedback loop.

Last week I did a complete 180 degree turn coming down a narrow exit ramp. There was a thin layer of snow on the road that I didn't anticipate, and I managed a controlled slide rather than ramming a car at the end of the ramp. I had to stop for a moment and catch my breath. Apparently, that was my free pass. Instead of paying heed to that omen, I continued apace. But this weekend I would have told you that I had begun addressing the building tension in earnest. I guess I was flat out wrong. Either that or I just wasn't quick enough at slowing down. And now I have a buckled right fender to remind me of the possible consequences.

The damage to the car does not affect its functioning. My friend and I pulled the plastic (or whatever Korean auto bodies are composed from) away from the tire. Another friend helped me change the front right-turn signal. If I file a claim with my insurance company, then I'm in for the $500 deductible plus a premium hike of (I estimate) about $300 per annum for the next five years. I'm told by my friend that if I order the parts, then he can do the work for me. A new front headlight unit and a fender will cost me about $280. I just have to wait until it warms up a bit so he can do the work outside. It's not going to look like it came out of a body shop, but I'm really not concerned about cosmetics with this car. I just want it to get me where I need to go until I am done with the payments (in about 30 months).

If it's true that Americans identify with (and are identified by) their cars- then it's probably natural for me to drive this thing around with a smashed fender. I don't normally stand on appearances. I'm much more concerned with functionality and structural integrity. The automobile is a mere conveyance, not a status symbol. Sure I'll probably get it fixed within some reasonable period. But if people take offense to the sight of a car with a fender of mismatched color, then it's on them. It will be just one more filter between me and the assholes.

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