Sunday, July 3, 2011

Not a son-in-law yet

I'm not yet a son-in-law for Lizzie's parents, and they don't currently have any other son-in-laws, but I seem to be making a strong running for "most memorable," if nothing else.

Last weekend, Lizzie and Ashley headed to Houston to hang out with friends, and I went to Baton Rouge to pick up a couple of arcade machines with Lizzie's mom. I stopped off in Hammond to pick up the truck, and we headed out to Hammond. It was hot, the machines were heavy, and full of cobwebs, roaches, spiders, and who knows what else. I got out with only a few scrapes and bruises, and the machines made it all the way back to New Orleans without incident. It rained a little bit on my way into the city, but I got the machines unloaded before they got too wet with some help from my neighbor.

I decided to make the drive back to Hammond to drop the truck back off and get my car back, but ran into a bit of trouble. I got on the interstate at the on-ramp at Claiborne. If you're not familiar with this stretch, it's a downhill exit off of an overpass with expansion joints. The rain and the knowledge that the pickup is light in the backend made me decide to hit the brakes a lot harder than I normally would have if I were in my Jetta. Unfortunately, this was still not enough.

While this isn't actually a picture of the truck, it may as well have looked like this. On the last expansion joint at the bottom of the hill, the on-ramp turns sharply to the left. On this turn, I felt the backend start to slide. I turned with the slide, in an attempt to save from spinning, but it was too late. Momentum took over, I hydroplaned into the concrete curb on the driver's side, spun 180, and hit the rear tire on the curb just a little further up the on-ramp. 

In a daze, I tried to assess if the car was going to be able to move at this point. It seemed to still move ok, but there were people behind me on the on-ramp at this point. The first of which appeared to be quite upset that I was facing the wrong way. This on-ramp is nearly impossible to drive the wrong direction down by mistake. Once you're on it, you have to get on the interstate. The truck also had a rather conspicuously bent, hanging front bumper which I hadn't seen yet, but this driver should have seen quite easily from his vantage point. This still didn't stop him from honking, flipping me off, and yelling at me because I had the audacity to inconvenience him at this time. A bit befuddled, I didn't really know how to take that. I already felt awful that I just wrecked my fiancé's father's truck, I don't know that I had enough emotion left to feel bad for this driver that I clearly upset.

Fortunately, the next 2 driver's were at least courteous enough to pass without incident. It wasn't until the 4th driver showed up around the turn that someone had the sense to slow down at a visible spot in the turn and turn on their flashers so I could get turned around the right way without further incident.

I got it turned around, on the interstate (slowly), and off the interstate at the first opportunity. I finally got the first look at my handiwork and was none too pleased. I had to face the music and call Lizzie's parents to deliver the bad news. This news not 3 weeks after a speeding ticket was delivered to their house from the traffic cameras in New Orleans with a  picture of my arm hanging out of the driver's side window of their daughter's car. I'm thinking this is not going to go well.

Surprisingly, after finding out no one else was involved, that I was still ok, the condition of the truck seemed of little consequence to Lizzie's dad. He told me to make an assessment about whether or not it could make the trip back to Hammond and let him know later, he had to go to work. The damage looked mostly cosmetic, and driving it up to this point seemed like it was behaving, but when I got back in to get back toward the highway, it was squeaking and the brakes squeaked and seemed to cause the whole truck to shudder when it came to a stop. So I only drove it as far as Lizzie's house, and we took it in the next morning to the mechanic.

Bent axle, bent rim, needs a brake job. All in all, $1200. I offered to pay for it, but with the broken tailgate, broken gas gauge, and A/C that would sometimes blow hot air until you restarted the car, Lizzie's parents decided to buy a new truck. Lizzie's mom has been asking for this for a while now -- so much that she told me Dr. Dale is going to think she paid me to wreck the truck. Had she paid me, I probably would have hit the truck with a sledgehammer or run it into a telephone pole or something less stressful than the interstate on-ramp.

At any rate, my offer still stands to front the cost of the repairs to either repair the truck or put toward the new one, as clearly this one was all my fault. I was quite lucky this wasn't any worse, and even luckier that Lizzie's parents were so understanding about it.

As a side note, I need to remember that my phone has a camera in it -- I can actually capture these things as they happen in the future...

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