Everyone makes a mistake, or two

Sunday, July 16, 2006

SHE SAID: I've known since I was 16 that God had a sense of humor.

Or at least a sense of irony.

The first day I drove my car to school after getting my driver's license, I ignored my parents. Not only did I pile a bunch of friends in the car, but I also drove onto the four-lane highway outside my hometown of Van Buren -- both of which mom and pop had instructed against.

And then, I was rear-ended. Because that's what happens when you're not where you're supposed to be.

I had a similar experience this week.

After realizing that the cost of sales tax on our new vehicles was not only putting us out on a financial limb, but also leaving us to dangle from said limb with a rope around our necks, Bob and I decided to curb our spending.

For us, that mostly means no eating out for lunch at local restaurants. Bob made me promise. Just like my parents did on that first day of driving a car to school.

On Monday, less than 24 hours after promising not to eat out, a few pals from work invited me to lunch with them. I agreed and even volunteered to drive in my shiny new sport utility vehicle.

Do you see where this is going? All right, there weren't any boys in the car in front of me mooning us this time, and the damage wasn't as bad as the high school incident, but I could just about hear God's chuckle.

For a brief period (three or four hours) I considered lying to Bob. I had it all planned out, how I was down town working hard on a story, not at all even thinking about a tasty roastbeef panini, when I accidentally bumped into one of those antique-looking light poles on Main Street.

At the last minute, I told him the truth. Not because I realized that he's my husband and loves me no matter what, but because ...

HE SAID: Let's get to the chase: It's July 5. A day after the car dealerships decided to close to make it harder for me to buy a car. I have to leave for work at noon.

It's 8:30 a.m. Callie's at the vet with the cat. I'm cleaning out the glove box, ready to take Little Red for one more ride. Callie comes home. She leaves for the dealership in her old Explorer. I leave in the Probe. I forget some papers I'll need to trade in Little Red. Callie has a five-minute head start, 10 minutes by the time I find the papers. It's approaching 9 a.m. now. I have three hours to test drive and buy a vehicle, though I know which one I want.

I'm in a hurry. I have a three-hour window to save thousands of dollars with the no-interest sale.

I push the speed limit, never 10 miles per hour more than the posted sign tells me until I hit Kingshighway.

Fifty-five in the 50. Fifty-five in the 45. Now I see the 35 mph sign and I take my foot off the accelerator. The slow driver in front of me is going the speed limit, so I pass him in the right lane. I'm still slowing, now 49 in the 35.

Then I see the police car at the side of the road.

Busted.

The cop asks me for my insurance. I tell him I'm on my way to purchase a new car and just emptied out my glove box. But honest sir, I do have insurance.

He tells me I was going 49 in a 35. I tell him I'm sorry. I usually don't drive that fast. He's heard it all before, I'm sure.

He goes back to his car and sits there for what seems like 10 minutes. He comes back. Not one ticket for speeding. Not two tickets for speeding and failure to show proof of insurance. But three tickets, one for speeding, one for insurance and one because my license plates were out of date. What? How could that be? I never got one of those notices in the mail, officer.

Honest.

The stories are true, but the excuses are piling up.

The cop is annoying, but he's doing what he's paid to do.

Then the news comes later in the day, about the horrible sales-tax mistake. A week later, my cute and talented wife puts a dent in her new SUV. I'm beginning to think these new vehicles were a bad idea.

cmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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