Farewell, Bubbles

There's nothing like a near-death experience to get one blogging again.  So here I am.

And here is the interior of my car, Bubbles, at 1:06 a.m. on August 30, near Ellis, Kansas:

After traveling all day, I was just 65 miles from my destination when a deer stepped in front of me.  She  lived to regret it for approximately two seconds as she flipped onto Bubbles' windshield and came to rest in assorted pieces behind me.

You know how those television commercials touting a car's safety rating show air bags inflating in slow motion, like big, soft marshmallows?  Inaccurate.  Air bags are shockingly loud and incredibly fast.  They are also very smelly after the fact.

And here's something commercials never address: the difficulty of driving your car with a limp, bulky air bag hanging out of your steering wheel.  How would I know?  Because I drove Bubbles that final 65 miles, at the encouragement of the surprisingly-cheerful-for-that-hour-of-the-night sheriff's deputy who came to my assistance.  "It's just cosmetic damage," he concluded as he circled the car with his flashlight.  "Just take 'er slow.  I'll follow you to your exit."  And he was right: Bubbles started up and ran fine.  Takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'.  Hits a doe 'n' keeps on goin'.

Never mind the fact that I couldn't see through half the windshield, and that a headlight was left lying in the ditch.  We made it to my folks' house near 3:00 a.m., Bubbles and I.  Our last trip together.  My insurance determined it was a total loss "two or three times over."  I guess smelly air bags are pricey to replace.

Thus ends a seven-year friendship with the first car I have ever owned.  Last I knew, she was sitting at the Insurance Auto Auction on 53rd Ave. in Wichita.  I like to think that her various parts are being tenderly salvaged and inserted into other worthy vehicles, giving them the heart and soul of a car that was well-loved.

Is it absurd to grieve an automobile?  I make no apology.  Farewell, beloved Bubbles.

And—hello, Wendell the White!

My folks.  What can I say about them?  Generous is certainly a good start.  Their daughter wrecked her car and stranded herself 900 miles away from her home in Utah.  What to do?  Not a moment's hesitation—they promptly pulled out their well-worn SuperDad and SuperMom suits and came to her rescue.  It wasn't enough that they let her take their best car back to Utah and pay for it as she is able—they also gave it an oil change and scrubbed every last bug speck from its bumper before handing over the keys with a smile.

And so I write this with a gently-used 2006 Taurus in my carport.  And merely a sore wrist from the air bag.  It's cliché but true: it could have been so much worse.  If the plastic binding had not held the shattered windshield together... or if there had been a vehicle directly behind me when I hit the brakes and swerved—this would be a very different story, friends.

Though I [drive my car] in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life.  Psalm 138:7 NIV