[10] Baby, you *can’t* drive my car

During one of my mad rushes to get in and out of the mall parking lot during the holidays, I was backing out of my parking space and didn’t see that anything was wrong. When I looked at my dash, a red light caught my attention. “Parking Brake On.” Oopsie! I’m no car expert (obviously) but I thought the parking brake is supposed to prevent the car from moving. Anyone who wants to chime in, please do!

My next thought was that it sparked a memory that was perfect for this blog.

When I was about 5 years old, I was playing with two of my direct neighbors. One lived in the house to our right and the other lived in the house to our left. To protect the innocent and somewhat harmed (you’ll read about this soon enough, I’ll change the names). “Annie” (who was age 3 at the time), “Shannon” (who was age 4 at the time) and I thought it would be a great idea to play “family” — Mom (Annie), Dad (Me) and Kid (Shannon).

So, Annie got the keys to their ~1970s Datsun (It looked similar to the picture above. Also, this was the mid-1980s, so the car wasn’t that old then). We hopped in — “Dad” in the driver’s seat, “Mom” in the passenger seat and “Kid” in the backseat.

I had put my hands on the steering wheel and pretended to drive. It kind of reminds me of “soap opera driving” — hands on the wheel and constantly moving the wheel. But that wasn’t enough. I decided to shift the car from P to R. I figured that we didn’t have the keys and the parking brake wasn’t on. What’s the worst that could happen?

Um, that would be everything that I (nor anybody else for that matter) was expecting. The car made this loud “VROOM” sound and started rolling back. FAST.

On top of the sound were the sounds of 3 screaming little girls. Shannon somehow managed to pop out of the car from the backseat through the driver’s side door as it rolled back off the driveway (quite impressive now that I think about it). As the car rolled back with the driver’s side door wide open, it hit the fence post in the front yard. I am not sure if that’s what slowed the car down, but it finally did come to a stop. Shannon got hit by a few sparks and might’ve gotten some bruises, but all her limbs were intact — thankfully.

All I can remember was running into my house and telling my sister what happened. My sister started crying for some reason. Maybe it’s because my parents weren’t home at the time and she was supposed to be watching me.

I don’t remember what else happened. I just remember all the parents coming together trying to figure out  how they were going to get the car door fixed and how they would pay for it.

In the end, a neighbor said he could fix it, and the my parents and Annie’s parents split the cost of the repairs, since each family felt responsible in some way (my parents for ever having me and Annie’s mom for giving Annie the keys to get into the car in the first place).

Later that night, my mom gave me 3 options for punishment:
1. No TV for a month (not an option for me)
2. No playing outside for a month (my preferred choice)
3. Pack me up in a box and ship me to the Motherland (my mother’s preferred choice)

I opted for option 2, which prevented me from further neighborhood embarrassment.

Annie’s family eventually traded in the Datsun for a Mercedes, which I never set foot in. And this is just one of many idiotic things I did regarding Annie’s family. It’s no wonder they moved away just a few years later. I have that effect on people.

Lesson learned: Keys, cars and kids don’t mix.


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