Aftermath of the Car Crash

Last week we lost the Kia. Jen was driving through an intersection when an oncoming car turned left, directly into the vehicle holding my wife, my eighteen month old daughter, and the best dog this world has ever known.

Jen suffered the bruises and abrasions you get from seat belts and air bags, but was otherwise unharmed. Our daughter was perfectly fine. The car seat did its job wonderfully.

Our dog, Piper, fared the worst. She was in the back of the SUV next to a stroller. Her femur was badly shattered in the accident, so much so that the local specialist wouldn’t touch it. We had to take her to Michigan State University, where Dr. Kyle Snowdon pieced her back together. Now she’s got a metal plate in her leg and a metal rod inside her bones, and she’s walking on the thing. I’ll post the x-rays when I have them, but hot damn do I love modern medicine.

cone-of-shame

The cone-of-shame has caused her more distress and discomfort than the broken leg did. It was bad timing to have a broken leg. The car wreck happened July 2nd and they avoided immediate surgery on Piper because she had some pulmonary contusions that made anesthesia too risky. We had to wait it out until the following Monday, and even then they couldn’t operate until Tuesday. She hobbled around for a week with a shattered femur and there was nothing we could do.

To top that off, our neighborhood loves its fireworks, and this was the Fourth of July weekend. Our only job was to try to keep the dog calm until surgery day, and every slack-jawed yokel in town was blowing up their paycheck right outside our door, making that an impossible task. She didn’t really seem all too affected by the sedative, but we were able to keep her somewhat safe and secure by throwing her in her crate, darkening the room, and turning on as many fans as we could to try and flood the room with white noise. We made it through the weekend without her hurting herself any further. Boy, was it a relief when we finally got her into the doctor’s hands.

She’s put back together now and it will be eight weeks until a full recovery. The Kia, on the other hand, is gone. The insurance company counted it as totaled, so we’re on the lookout for a new vehicle. We were planning on buying a minivan later this year, but it looks like our hand has been forced.

Here we say goodbye to the Kia. She protected my family and deserve’s a hero’s burial. So long, my good friend. I still remember the day I was guilted into buying you after I slammed the fingers of the car salesman in the door.

byebyekia

 

Salesman of the Year

I’m sitting here at the Kia dealership getting my oil changed (for only $20!) and I just ran into the guy who sold us our new car in January. I jokingly asked how his finger was to see if he remembered me. He did.

You see, when we were first looking at cars, we were narrowing it down and he was showing us the interior of a Hyundai when I slammed the poor schmuck’s fingers in the car door. I was speechless. So was he, though you could tell he was really struggling to keep the expletives behind sealed lips. I urged him to go inside and walk it off or to put some ice on it, anything to make the situation a little less awkward. He valiantly stuck around and began to point and explain about the cupholders before shaking his head and going inside, leaving us the keys and telling us to take our time driving around the neighborhood.

We thankfully left ol’ Eight Finger Freddy and cruised around a little bit, wondering whether his digits would be all right; wondering how anyone in their right mind, who sold cars for a living, who got paid showing cars to strangers day in and day out, could be so dense as to leave their fingers directly on the part of the car door everyone’s mom most feared. His hand had been splayed out across the rib of the frame between the driver’s side front and back door. He was peering through the open front door; I was peering through the rear. He had finished a sentence and I nodded and shut the door. Simple as that. His right hand fingers got smushed by the rear door at the worst point possible – where, if you remember your physics class, the movement of the lever is at its shortest length but the applied force is the most magnified.

Then we thought, maybe he’s trying to take us for a ride. Maybe this is his thing. He sacrifices a few fingers in the name of a sale. If he did, I thought, he earned it. We ended up buying the Kia Sorento we test-drove earlier, and though we’re very happy with the car and I’m pretty sure we made our minds up before circumcising his right hand, there’s a part of me that wonders how much those nearly severed digits played into the sale. I’d like to think not at all, but the skeptic in me says I’d be a fool to rule out the possibility.

Fast forward to today, when I get the oil changed and run into him in the main waiting area. I jokingly ask about his fingers and he smiles and holds up his right hand, and that’s when I notice the splint holding his ring finger straight, wrapped in an athletic bandage. He says that some other customer had smashed his hand in the car door, just like I did three months ago.

I bet he made that sale, too.

I Traded My Jeep for a Pile of Human Kidneys

The National Kidney Foundation came by today to pick up my Jeep. They’ve got a donation program where you give them your car and they give you a sack full of human kidneys in about thirty days, after they auction off the vehicle and convert its value to kidney currency. At the going street rate, I’m expecting one, maybe two pillow sacks full of kidneys. I probably won’t keep them. Probably.

We tried selling the Jeep, but people from the internet are too quick to low-ball you. That, and I’m a horrible salesman. I figure, if I’m up front and honest, they’ll find out what an upstanding person I am and that in and of itself should raise its net worth. Instead, they’re all like, “I’m not buying a Jeep with an engine that goes CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK when you turn it on. Is there something wrong with you?” And I tell them no, you read the ad; I was straight up, now give me some money. And they don’t. They try to haggle by asking me to cut the price in half, and instead, after I bid them farewell, I just raise the price on Craigslist. But even that doesn’t work. They just keep going lower. I don’t think they understand haggling.

What they truly don’t understand is that its sentimental value is through the roof. I got this Jeep when I got my wife, though at that time I had only duped her into dating me. It was on one of our first dates that I asked her to drive it home for me from the car shop. I trusted her even then.

I have always been disappointed in this Jeep. I only got it out of necessity after I spun out my old black Cherokee on the East Beltline and slammed into the side of a car three vehicles ahead of me while leaving the in-between cars unscathed and slack-jawed. Ta-da! The Grand Cherokee was a step down from the Cherokee. I seemed to have lots of problems with it. It got horrible pick-up and, when driving up slowly sloping inclines, it would often feel the need to jump down two or three gears at a time, sending the RPMs and your heart-rate sky-high. I had to get the transmission replaced after it started swapping spit with the radiator. The back hatch wouldn’t open for a few years. The cruise control and air conditioning went in and out regularly. My wife’s favorite was the windshield wipers which were tragically crippled and sporadic, and it was they who decided when the time was right to oscillate, not you. Three of the four electric windows’ mechanical arms failed and left the window flaccid in the down position. A few months ago, the water pump went out on the first snowy day and my toes were cold while I waited for a tow-truck. And then the engine started making its death knell, a loud clacking sound that signaled an imminent and potentially catastrophic explosion. On top of all that, I was regularly taunted about the fact that it looked more like a van than a Jeep; a fact which I could not argue. It was time to move on.

That’s not to say we haven’t had our good times as well. We drove that thing everywhere. It has seen both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. We’ve had it on countless trips up to northern Michigan where, during the twilight hours, you can build up a exterior shell of blackflies an inch thick. We drove it to Cape Cod with the engine coughing and sputtering, forcing us to get new spark plugs, and I’m pretty sure the guy ripped me off by replacing something else unnecessarily. We drove it to California loaded with everything we needed to keep us going for four months on the road and, on the way back, we had a brake caliper seize up somewhere east of Lake Tahoe and we drove back to Michigan with a horrible grinding sound that you could feel in your feet. Ah, the memories of me yelling at my wife on the highway not to use the brakes. You can’t put a price on that.

That Jeep had a wonderful aroma that will be hard to reproduce. Last night I just sat in it for a minute, trying to capture what remained of it, remembering all the good times. It’s got a hint of dirty mountain biking socks hidden under the seats for weeks, mixed with a broken bottle of Aftershock and two broken bottles of Guinness absorbed into the back seat carpet (we weren’t drinking, only transporting); the remnant aroma of a bag of weed which cooked in the hot summer sun for a weekend in the seat pockets, left by an unnamed acquaintance; it has absorbed the campfire smoke of trees in the Great Lakes, the Atlantic Coastline, as well as trees from the West Coast near Big Sur and Yosemite; it’s got a year’s worth of dog hair, mud, and saliva seeped into the carpet and seats without the slightest chance of ever coming out; and years of sand and sweat from biking, hiking, running, and beach excursions. I don’t think they make an air freshener powerful enough to take that aroma away, and that’s good, because I kind of like it.

But now it’s time to part. We’ve had some good times, but there comes a point when you painfully realize it’s time to move on. I’ve managed to avoid the catastrophic engine explosion so far, and I think that she’s holding out just long enough so I don’t have to see her die. I’ve made my peace, but it’s hard to watch her go. She left quietly today while no one was around. Some people came by in white suits and a long white truck, and silently loaded her up to take her away. You know, I don’t even need that sack of kidneys. There are other people who could probably use them way more than me. I’ll let the Kidney Foundation keep them and distribute them however they see fit. It’s what she would have wanted.