Confessions of a Car Guy, Part 2
I was run over by my own car (and I was driving!)
Boomer reader Phil Perkins tells a tale on his 17-year-old self and his beloved MG sports car.
I know that running yourself over may sound impossible, but I’m here to tell you it isn’t. I’m convinced that it could only happen to a 17-year-old lovesick boy, but I may be wrong. Bear with me and you can decide for yourself.
If you happen to have read my article called “Confessions of a Car Guy,” you know that I had a couple of vintage MGA sports cars when I was a teenager. I loved those cars even though my girlfriend at the time (and wife now) didn’t share my enthusiasm. In fact, she referred to one of them as “cardboard and rust.” Nonetheless, I continued to pour money into trying to restore the cars to past glory. I drove one every day, including on our dates. And it was after one of those dates that the incident occurred.
In those days I had a great job with the Norfolk and Western Railway. The bad news was that I often had to work the night shift. On that fateful night I had dropped my date off at her home and returned to mine to change clothes before reporting for duty.
At this point you have to picture my parent’s home. It sat on knoll above a relatively busy stretch of road. The driveway was quite steep, and with my little car, a running start was almost always necessary. On this particular night, my car stalled at the bottom of the driveway. No matter how I tried I couldn’t get the engine started again. I figured my only option was to push the car to the side and worry about it tomorrow. I was quite certain my dad would allow me to borrow his car to report to work.
Here was the problem. To the right of the drive was an embankment. To the left of the drive and slightly below was a level spot where I thought I could successfully push the car and leave it until morning. Just beyond that was the road and then a pasture many feet farther down. I stepped out of my beloved MG and began pushing it to the left. Problem was that the car picked up momentum. I tried jumping back into the vehicle to apply the brakes but was at an awkward angle. No go. I only got about halfway in.
I began to contemplate the possibility of rolling into the road and being hit by another vehicle or crossing the road and diving into the pasture below. Neither was particularly appealing. So, I did the only thing that seemed logical. I put my right foot against the shift console and pushed my way out of the car. I landed face down, at which point the rear wheels ran over my legs.
To be fair, I wasn’t hurt. My pride took a beating … and my new Levi’s … but beyond a few scratches I was fine. The car, of course, continued across the road and down into the pasture below. It stopped atop a creek with front and back bumpers on either side and the wheels spinning freely in between.
My mother had managed to hear all the racket and came out onto the front porch to investigate. Once she was able to determine my predicament, she let out the scream heard ’round the world. It took me a while to convince her I was okay, and she finally calmed down. Once the details of my mishap became clear, my dad enjoyed a good laugh, but he did lend me his car and I made it to work on time.
I guess the moral of the story is that teenaged boys grossly overestimate their strength. They also tend to feel immortal. I learned that night that I wasn’t that strong nor was I immortal. Lesson learned. See, I told you it could happen … and it happened just that way. I kid you not.
Read more from Phil Perkins and his beloved MG and other contributions from Boomer readers in our From the Reader department.
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