The In-Law’s Cars – The ones I wrecked/ruined

My poor father-in-law, it didn’t take long before he was cleaning up my automobile messes. In fact, it started on my wedding day.

Technically, the car belonged to my brand new wife. Her Dad bought it and she had been paying him for it, but it was still in his name. Little white Toyota Corolla – nice car.

Our wedding reception was out at the house, out in the country. Our maid of honor needed to go and she had ridden out to the reception with us, the whole horns honking, tin cans dragging, Just Married Signs. Anyway, my wife and I jumped at the opportunity to escape the crowd for a bit and drove her back into town.

On the way back, we were taking our first drive alone as husband and wife enjoying the night air. Life was sweet. Thunk.. Cachunk. bam.. slam . slam . slam. . cough die. . . And there we were, broken down on the side of the road, in our wedding attire. We walked to the nearest house and called home. No telling what those people thought when a Bride and Groom knocked on their door.

Turned out the engine was blown, “someone” forgot to keep oil in it. Hey, it wasn’t MY car, so THAT one is really not my fault. But we were set to leave in the morning on our honeymoon, so Dad loaned us a Delta 88. You know, until he could get the engine replaced.

Eventually, the engine was replaced and we got the Corolla back, well, for a while anyway. I did NOT have anything against that Corolla – it just kinda worked out that way.

I was headed home from the local college It was cold and icy in spots, so I wasn’t racing or anything. As I approach a freeway overpass I notice that there is a semi on the other side, turning my way from the off ramp. I tested the brakes, no effect. Crap! I Down shifted. The car swerved left, then back right as I fought the steering wheel. The semi was still blocking the road, shoulder to shoulder. I was pumping the brakes, counter steering, and looking for some way out. There was none.

I was headed right for the cab when one on the wheels grabbed something and I started sliding back towards the left. In the last few seconds I could tell exactly where I was going to hit, UNDER the trailer. At the last second I saw there were 3 metal steps sticking down from the trailer. The front of the car went under the trailer, but the steps caught a lot of the impact and my car actually bounced off a bit to the right. You could see from the tracks in the ice that the trailer had moved back about a foot.

I had thrown myself down across the seats at the last second, as the impact shattered all but one window in the car. The driver’s door was pretty mangled but I was able to open the passenger door and crawl out, and almost “fall to my death”! Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But the car had been bounced to the very edge of the shoulder. When I dropped out of the door, I was ON the slope going down to the freeway. So the ground was further away than I expected.

I didn’t suffer any real injuries, although I had some of that glass cut out of my scalp more than 10 years later. (it had worked itself to the surface) But that poor car was totaled, for good this time. I don’t think we had it back for a whole month before I killed it. Dad let us KEEP the loaner, permanently.

Less than a year (and two cars) later, we found ourselves living at my in-laws house. My luck with jobs wasn’t much better than my luck with cars. And once again – we needed wheels.

THIS car was a Nova, I believe, and it WAS just a LOANER! We could DRIVE this car until my father-in-law found us a good used car. Couple weeks went by and I get the call that he has found us a car, a Mustang. I could drive over and pick it up at his Implement Sales business.

I am about halfway there, just minding my own business. Driving through an “S” Curve across some railroad tracks, a crossing that had claimed many lives over the years. Tthe right rear tire blew out, just exploded!

From that instant on I had no real idea of where I was in relation to the road, or even in relation to the ground. I remember when the tire blew the back of the car swung left, so I counter steered to the left. Then the whole shebang swung right and I was cranking that steering wheel back. The car plowed into the raised railroad tracks and went airborne, completing a full roll in the air before coming down on the tires, or so the witnesses said. I have a vivid recollection of trying to steer with both hands on the steering wheel, and both feet on the passenger door! And I was standing upright!

I really don’t remember whether I got out or whether people pulled me out. I remember people being there talking about the wreck. I remember the guy that had been behind me telling the State Trooper “I never seen driving like that! I don’t know how he held on as long as he did!” (hey, it’s nice to be appreciated – I DO drive good! Well, I like to think I do.)

To get on with the story. The State Troopers knew my father-in-law (it was HIS car). The call had come in as a “roll over”, which usually meant a fatality at that spot, so they called my father-in-law and told him he should probably come to the scene of the accident. He thought he was coming to identify the body of his son-in-law.

Me, I was just sitting on the side of the road, pretty much just happy to be alive when I see my father-in-law drive up. He doesn’t look at all happy. Think of something to say, quick! Something that will lighten this awkward moment.

As he walks up I say, “Bet THAT will teach you!”

He manages a “What???”

I give him the big punch line, “Bet you’ll never loan ME another car!” hahahahaha

Without so much as a glimmer of a reaction he turned around, walked back to his truck, and drove away in the direction he had come from. The Trooper gave me a ride back to my house.

When my father-in-law spoke again, he got to deliver the punch line. We STILL got to buy the Mustang from him, but until it was fully paid off I was NOT allowed to DRIVE IT! How humiliating! Not that it wasn’t justified. And it was more than reasonable. And we DID need a car, I had just wrecked the one we HAD been using. WE honored that agreement, even though “he wouldn’t know if you drive this once”, because he HAD been more than fair. It WAS a reasonable request, and he had earned at least that much respect.

I would say that I have nothing BUT respect for my ex father-in-law, but that wouldn’t be true, there’s a healthy amount of love involved too. Now, my ex mother-in-law? THAT’S a WHOLE ‘nother story! hahahahahaha

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