I’ve caused a few wrecks

On July 30, 1972 (my 16th birthday), I drove to the highway patrol station to get my driver’s license. My learner’s permit was in my pocket and my mother was in the passenger seat. As I pulled into the space, I scraped a car.

It belonged to the highway patrol officer who tested me. My mother paid him for the damage to his car. I passed the test.

Later that day, I was demonstrating to my father my driving skills. I parked in the public lot behind my family’s store, Zimmerman’s. Not stopping in time, I hit the parking meter, head on. No damage. My father rarely rode as a passenger with me after that.

The next day, I had a wreck in the middle of the downtown with Claudia Blalock, a classmate. We were in the middle of the downtown, in traffic. Best I can remember, there wasn’t a lot of damage.

I don’t remember whose fault it was, but I remember Claudia’s comment.

“I like to drive fast,” she said.

A couple of years later, I was driving my brother’s sports car — a snazzy convertible — down a gravel road on the way to the Beech Mountain tennis courts, where I had a snazzy job as the tennis pro.

Going a little too fact, I went into a slide on the curve and hit a Mercedes coming in the other direction. As I recall, the Mercedes didn’t have a lot of damage. My brother’s car suffered a dent big — enough to total the car.

About ten years ago a guy ran a stoplight and hit me. My daughter, Emma, was in the passenger’s seat. She cut her eye and the police officer wanted to call an ambulance. I called my wife, who came and got her. She applied a band-aid (much less traumatic). I later learned, from my lawyer, that calling an ambulance would have resulted in a much bigger settlement.

I smashed our mini van into a tree about fifteen years ago. I had started backing out of my driveway and remembered something I had forgotten from inside the house. When I got back in the car, not having remembered how close I was to the tree, I put it in reverse and hit the tree. End of car.

One time I got so excited about the good deal I got on an espresso machine (back in the days when Starbucks had not yet moved into the North Carolina market) that I leapt my car forward from the parking space in the Brendle’s parking lot and into the path of a speeding red sports car.

When I was 12, almost 13 years old, I did a very bad job one week of preparing for my Bar Mitzvah lesson. My mother sat in on these weekly lessons and she was embarrassed – not just because I did badly on the lesson, but because I was not as polite as she would have liked with Rabbi Gerber. She was pretty mad at me for not studying, and she wasn’t crazy about my excuse (I had had a tennis tournament and didn’t have time). She was furious, and when we went out to eat afterwards, she had a wreck and blamed it on me getting her so upset.

One time, on the way to the beach, the car was packed full and I had no visibility. I changed lanes and cut off a car in the other lane lane. Our cars never made contact, but the driver of the other car was angry. He honked and flipped me the bird.

Then he went to the police station and said I was a hit-and-run. Next, I got pulled by a cop and taken to the station – where the cop believed me more than the other guy, and let me go.

So I’ve caused a few wrecks – and these are the ones I remember. I know there are some I don’t remember. Or choose not to remember.

I’ve been lucky. Never gotten hurt.

A small wreck. One must count one's blessings.

Had a little wreck today.

And I mean little.

I’ve been delivering Coffee News for almost four years now — off and on — and this was my first bump on the job.

I pulled into a space in front of a Chinese Restaurant, ran in, delivered the papers, ran out, got in my car, put it in reverse, and hit a parked car.

Got out and took a look.

There was damage.  Very, very little.  I wiped most of it off with my finger, and a little scratch remained.  About the size of a lentil, maybe.  Looked more like a small smudge.

Problem is, the car belonged to the Sheriff’s Department.

I went in the restaurant.  Only one large table was occupied.  It was full of deputies.  About twenty of them.  They had just had training and were having lunch.  They were all talking.  All having a fun time.

I interrupted and told them what had happened.

The captain accompanied me to the scene of the crime and inspected the damage.  He called the local police department.

He asked me if I had been parked in the handicapped space.  I didn’t exactly lie.

I pointed to the space near the handicapped space and said I was parked “over there.”  Please know that there were three handicapped space — all empty — and I had in fact parked in one of them for about fifteen seconds.

He asked me if I had been wearing a seat belt.  I didn’t exactly lie.

I told him I had just delivered papers and gotten back in the car, and might not have been, couldn’t really remember — but if I had to answer the question definitively one way or the other, I guess I was wearing it.  My next stop was, in effect, on the other side of the parking lot — and I had not, in fact, been wearing the seat belt.

He wrote the report and informed me that this would not be reported to the state, since there was so little damage.  They would call me tomorrow.  The county has their own body shop and it might be something I could pay directly, so that my insurance wasn’t affected.

All this took about an hour.

Before he let me go, he thanked me for being honest.