More of the Saab/sob story and moral righteousness

Saab Wreck

Do you ever find yourself acting righteously and condemning someone else for things you on occasion do yourself?  Well, maybe you don’t, but I do.   Not exactly consciously, but sometimes I forget to connect the dots between my  actions and  those of others that I find reprehensible.  Yesterday after writing about a Glen Campbell who could not remember the lyrics or a SAAB that could make payroll, I was on a run, struggling up one last hill when I tripped over that righteousness.   In making my little pun, I forgot to thank my friend Gwen for the SAAB story idea; she made the pun while listening to me sob about my SAAB more than 15 years ago.  I was regaling her with a tale of disaster, with what proved to be, although I did not know it at the time of the tale, my last SAAB.  However, it was my last SAAB  for several reasons.  When it finally gave up the ghost,  I was single and no longer could afford a new car every time I got the urge; but the most important reason was my grandchildren.  And that is the crux of the tale.

The SAAB disaster was a two part tale.  In the first part, I blew up the turbo.  At the time I was going to Hawthorne, Nevada twice a month on business.  The trips were fun, great Nevada driving on long empty roads with nothing to prevent one from experiencing the joys of speed.  The last part of the road to Hawthorne goes along Walker Lake and is a series of challenging, but potentially fast driving curves.   I knew the road well, knew where police normally lurked and had a radar detector.  Each trip I played a little game, the object of the game was to average as close to 100 miles an hour as possible on the stretch.  Those curves set the tone for the whole trip, on the way down I drove anticipating them and on the way back I drove on the adrenaline from them.  On one trip on the way back and far from Walker Lake I was still in that frame of mind, just how fast can I … fill in the blank according the location and the conditions.  This day,  it was a long hill – the challenge was the speed I could achieve at the crest of the hill; that was a game I had played in many places.  I down shifted into third gear and, and blew up the turbo – that red line on the tachometer is apparently there for a reason.  I ignored it and my sweet, sweet SAAB indulged me and allowed me to push it past its limits. I had it repaired, that car had another lesson for me.

The second half of the disaster tale came several years later, I was in Reno going onto the freeway from an on ramp.  I was accelerating to 80 miles an hour or so and changing lanes as I accelerated.  However, the car immediately in front of me was slowing down to 30 miles an hour and holding her lane with trepidation.  Her niece told me as we waited for the police that her aunt was a very nervous driver and often panicked and slammed on her brakes on the highway, it was not her first accident.  The niece was embarrassed, the aunt frightened, but the policeman was calm – fault was easily established – I was wrong, hitting a car from behind is always wrong.  As I stood on the side of the road with cars whizzing past my car broken and my chest, chin and arms bruised from the airbag – but lucky, without the airbag I would not be writing this – and wondering what to do next.  Again the car was repaired, but things between us were never the same – had she cheated on me or had I cheated on her?  Neither, cheating was not our crime – but when were criminals.

While standing by the highway I did decided to change my driving.  I took the radar detector out of the car and threw it away;  I put away my driving gloves and never wore them again; and I bought a good child’s seat for my granddaughter and put it in the backseat.  You see, I had a seat for her, a cheap one and in the front seat; she was about two years old at the time.  I was lucky, she with me that day.  Even now when she has just finished her first year of college and is off for the weekend with her brother in Santa Cruz – even now it takes my breath away and horrifies me to think about that day and her car seat and the possible outcomes.

This is where I realized how hypocritical I was a couple of days ago writing about the auto accident and death of Ryan Dunn.  I had forgotten all of the days of stupid dangerous driving I have done, it was only when I started to think about the sob/SAAB story that remembered my own reckless driving and the day that I almost killed….  No,  I can’t say the words, but I think you get the idea.  A car is a dangerous and lethal weapon, instead of lecturing others, I need to pay attention to my own driving.


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