As a young man growing up, I couldn't help but notice that my father never had much luck with his cars.
I think that it began when I was just a young child. We were driving along one day, me in the passenger seat, and I said "Hey, look at this picture that I drew today." (It was a really good picture of a steam engine, if I recall.) He turned to look at it and steered his 1975 Mercury station wagon into a parked car.
A few years later, he had to help me out with my paper route because my paper route bike was busted. He was a little upset to say the least at 3 AM, and when he went to put his Buick Skylark into reverse, the gear shift knob, which had been loose for some time, came off in his hand. Losing it for just a second, he slammed the knob down onto the dashboard, only to have it bounce up and star the windshield, cracking it from one side to the other.
That one I'll remember as the morning that I felt a need to laugh like never before, but was forced to suppress even the slightest smirk lest I be slaughtered on the spot.
And then I got my driver's license, figuring that I could take some of the burden off of him. I mean, if he didn't have to drive me places all the time, he wouldn't wreck his cars so much, right? Well not so much.
The very first time that I went to move his Skylark out of the garage so that I could get the lawnmower that was in front if it (because he had parked way too close to the lawnmower), my foot slipped off the clutch and the car shot backwards, right into the new addition that we'd just put on the house. No real damage to the car but rebuilding that wall wasn't a whole lot of fun for either of us.
And then the next year, he got a new car after the Skylark's little 4-cylinder engine inexplicably burned out. (OK, the fact that to a sixteen year old boy, EVERY car is a potential race car might have had something to do with it...) He got a brand new Dodge Aries--a K-Car. (My dad sure had style, didn't he?) That car wasn't three weeks old when I had it out with a couple of my friends and another car hit the front end of the new Dodge and took off. Wow--that was fun bringing that car home and commiserating with my dad over his tough luck, let me tell you.
But none of these were as bad as the luck that he seemed to have with his Pontiac Bonneville diesel. A rule that he imposed was that if I was going to drive his car, I had to put fuel in it. Well I was young and still in high school. I had no job. So I would usually scour the couch cushions for change and hit my no-account friends up for gas money, and usually I'd wind up putting a dollar or two into the gas tank, at least technically complying with his edict. I always put enough in the tank to get the car home. Alas, one day I did not put enough into it to allow it to actually reach the closest gas station when my dad took it out, and he unfortunately ran out on the way to the station. Ever try to prime a diesel engine that's been run out of fuel? He had a heck of a time getting that car started again, if I recall.
But that wasn't near as bad as the night that I was out driving with a couple of pals and decided to go down a dirt road that I'd never been on before. I mean, how could I know that the road ended in a big pond, right? And as I stood there later next to my dad (prudently out of arm's reach, of course) I could not help but feel sorry for him and his never-ending bad luck with his cars as we watched the wrecker driver pull that Pontiac back out of the water.
But he seems to be doing much better these days for some reason. Knock on wood, and Happy Father's Day, Pop!