What Happened on the Way to Mini-Stop

Also, ‘Never, Under Duress or Any Other Circumstances Including But Not Limited to Laser Eye Beams of Death Are You to Divulge Any of the Information Found Here to My Mother. Please.

So last Tuesday, Remi and I went grocery shopping – because heck, supplies don’t magically reappear in the cupboards of hungry yuppies. I drove. Now, you need to know two things: One, Car-Car (the tentatively re-named 1972 Volkswagen Beetle) has been home from the mechanics’ shop since Saturday and in case you’re counting, Saturday to Tuesday = 3 days; and two, I’ve been practicing driving since Car-Car made it home, an aforementioned 3 days.
So anyway, Shopwise didn’t have Marlboro Lights. At least a third of the five people who read this blog can sympathize with this. I, with nary a stick, will have to find some other place from which to buy a pack of cancer sticks. The only place that hasn’t (yet) failed to sell me cancer stick packs is the Mini-Stop in Katipunan Avenue. I therefore took the turn right to Katipunan instead of left to go home.
So we were rolling along merrily in 40 year old Car-Car, along Katipunan. Everything was fine and dandy in the world.

Earlier that day, I had taken Car-Car for my first solo drive to a gas station (also on Katipunan). Also earlier that day, I was chatting with Mabie about opening a new savings account. I never really told her why I wanted one, but for the interests of posterity and irony, I’ll have you know that I was planning to set aside money for car contingencies. Like if I ever need new tires or if I ever meet an accident, which I was sure I would because shit, I’m only beginning to like the idea of owning a car, and already I am deeply and intimately acquainted with the fact that I am a bad driver. So yeah, a car contingency account. Another irony was that I was checking out the savings accounts that included free life insurance.
Was that flashback necessary? It is, dear gentle reader. It is.
So we were rolling along, yes? Just before the stoplight at C.P. Garcia Avenue, I lay off the gas and stepped on the brake. Nothing. Nothing is the last thing you want to happen when you’re practically standing on the brake pedal (and of course, the clutch too) because kids, if there are any laws you can’t break, they’re Newton’s Laws of Motion.
*Let’s pause for a moment for a Science Break.*
The first Law of Motion, popularly known as Inertia, basically states that an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. (Or: A body moving on a level surface will continue in the same direction at a constant speed unless disturbed.)
Applied in practical terms, an object, in our case the car, will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force, which if everything had been fine, dandy and working as intended, were the brakes. Instead, the outside force that “acted upon” Car-Car was another car, a white Vios taxi.
Shit on stilts.
I’m not sure if this has happened to you, but the scene replays in my head in slow motion every 15 or so minutes.
Stepping on the brakes, Remi’s saying, “Masyadong malapit, masyadong malapit,” the taxi’s rear end coming closer and closer, the jolt to a stop, the taxi launching a foot from Car-Car’s front end, me saying, “Oh shit, sorry,” the cab driver getting out of the car and surveying the damage, me getting out to negotiate. Repeat ad nauseaum.
In hindsight (which is infinitely better than my foresight, see paragraph about savings), I realize that I could’ve pulled the handbrake (didn’t work in that scene in The Princess Diaries though, just saying) and that I could’ve pumped the brakes Jeepney-style, among a hundred other things that I could’ve or should’ve done. Pending an investigation of the said brakes, I’m operating under the assumption that it was not the brakes’ fault at all.
Because a. I left most of my pride on a curb along White Plains, and b. twenty-nine years of learning from mistakes had taught me that owning up to one’s mistakes is always better than digging one’s heels into the dirt and bullheaded-ly insisting one’s faultlessness like a child.
Anyway, Car-Car’s fine. Or at least, much okay-er than the taxi. The taxi’s rear bumper had caved in, and the trunk was stuck. Car-Car, at first inspection, was fine save for a crack on the handle’s hood. Once I had a chance to look closer though, I saw that the left headlight was slightly (like 2 centimeters) askew. It basically got mashed into the fender. Other than that, there were no visible signs of damage. The cab driver said, “Sa totoo lang ma’am, lugi ako. Volkswagen yan eh. Makapal ang kaha.”
At the Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show last year, I saw a sticker that said, “Invest in Precious Metal” referring to the thick German steel but until last Tuesday, I never really took that seriously. Or at least, not THAT seriously. Remi, the cab driver, and I are also okay. I admit though that my remaining pride and my poor wallet took the brunt of the impact.
At the end of it all, Remi said, “Actually, I think you handled that pretty well.”
“Why, because I didn’t burst out crying the first chance I got?” I said.
“No, but crying does help.”
I shrugged. I never asked what made her think so. I didn’t think so.
Anyway, Remi said that it was bound to happen. Like a trial by clusterfuck, I guess. For all I know, Batman may be sending me a convoluted anti-smoking PSA. Or maybe it’s just the adage “Just when you think you’re ahead financially, something expensive breaks” coming true and rubbing its nasty ass on my face. Either way, no one was hurt and for that I am thankful (thanks Batman! And yay working seatbelts!).