BALANCING ACT:   Cars go crunch

Staff writer

The window on my new-to-me little Honda Prelude was still frosty but I could see good enough for the early morning drive to school, I thought. Just the day before I spent $54 on tags, and just the day before that I added the little economy car on our insurance policy.

When I “kissed” the bumper of the 4-wheel drive Dakota on our driveway with the front quarter panel of the Prelude Friday morning the fact that I was tagged and insured did nothing to soften my dismay at the resulting “crunch.”

It is no secret in our family that I have not had good luck with cars. I much prefer to drive a truck with a good bumper — it is just better that way.

My first car as a college student was a little bright orange pumpkin called a Pinto Pony. It was fun to buzz around in and it got good gas mileage on my trips back and forth from Goessel America to the University of Kansas.

When it bombed out somewhere near Burlington one day, I did remember vaguely that my father had told me to check the oil every now and then. But I thought he meant then, not now!

Another memorable little car in my life was the white Ford Taurus. It lasted a year or two before I had a little mishap at the corner a mile north of our farm. I slid through an icy intersection and hit a truck with a topper and a bed full of fish.

Now that was one very weird almost out-of-body experience. I was traveling north; the little truck was coming up a hill the bad intersection from the east. It was almost invisible because of the high ditch sides and overgrowth. I saw a flash of sun reflecting off his windshield just moments before hitting my brakes, and sliding into the other vehicle, right behind the passenger door.

The moment from when I knew I was going to hit him to when I actually did seemed to last a lifetime, though it was probably milliseconds. I guess I should be glad the only casualty was the 20 or 30 fish that went flying out of the back of his truck along with the topper. Well, my car was a casualty as well, it never ran right again after that accident.

I am glad to say my little Prelude still runs fine after our driveway incident. It was a good lesson for my 14-year-old daughter however. She got out to survey the damage and noted the truck bumper had only a small smudge of white paint.

Her only comment as she looked at the crunched entire front quarter panel of the car was, “I think I want to drive the truck when I get my learner’s permit this summer.”

Smart girl. I have to agree, clunkers and trucks have a very important place in our society. They are much safer for young drivers as well as for moms who do not have the best of luck in cars. Little cars might take less gas in the long run, but they just do not do well without oil and certainly do not stand up against fish trucks. They simply are not built to protect our most precious cargo — human life — either.

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