Sometimes, it's just about survival

Ed De La Garza

I was in a minor fender bender last Wednesday. I say "minor" because police assistance wasn't required and I'm still alive.

No, it wasn't my fault. I was on Highway 59 southbound, over by the I-10 exit in morning rush-hour traffic - slow, but moving. I was in the third lane from the left when a truck driven by construction workers (not my favorite people) started moving toward me from the left.

Apparently, this driver had gotten it into his head that the right time to change lanes was when there was already a car there. I glanced to my right, and that lane was blocked. With nowhere to go, I started to pound my horn, but it was too late.

So basically, this truck's right front tire, with nuts sticking out like spikes as if it were a member of the acrobatic racing team from <I>Speed Racer<P>, dug into my front bumper and ripped it away from my car, not to mention putting a good-sized dent in the fender and taking a chunk out of my hubcap.

For a split second, I started to think, "Relax! Maybe all it did was scratch the fender." That was before I heard the bumper scraping the road, which of course led me to let out the requisite expletive.

Thankfully, this was a construction worker with a conscience (unlike some workers on campus) who stopped so we could exchange pleasantries and insurance information.

I got out to encounter my accident partner and inspect the damage. I saw behind me my car's bumper hanging down as if its jaw had been broken. Then the construction worker tried to pin it on me.

"What, were you trying to get in my spot?"

Excuse me? Your spot? Why, yes, that's exactly right. I guess my car must have lured your truck into taking its bumper off. My car's funny that way.

Let me give anyone who happens to be involved in an accident a few words of advice: If it's your fault, don't try to pass it off on the other driver. At best, you'll end up looking stupid, and at worst, you'll be the recipient of a fist to the jaw.

About that time, I was more angry than I was shocked. The car was not in such bad shape that I couldn't drive it, and the damage was confined to body work. But still, I realized it was going to be in a shop for at least a week, and I was going to need a rental car.

Funny thing is, through all this, a thought started creeping into my head even as I was writing down the truck's license plate number. A wreck, no matter how small, isn't exactly how I like to start off the morning. As I jury-rigged the bumper so I could drive off, I started thinking, "You know, this would make for a good topic for Monday."

The anger subsided and I started to laugh. How pathetic. I'm going to be dealing with insurance companies, getting estimates from body shops, trying to stay within a rental company's mileage restrictions. The turning light keeps falling out, I'm going to have to drive home worried about whether the bumper's going to stay on, and all I can think about is my damn column and how I need something else to write about besides political scandals.

I guess that's the point of all this: Regardless of what's going on in the world, we all continue living our lives, trying to get to work, getting through the day and making it home without being killed.

A hurricane hit the eastern Gulf Coast. A Precinct One constable was killed by a 17-year-old kid. Millions of Australians have gone without gas, giving the world a preview of what it's going to be like Jan. 1, 2000. The Astros (as of this writing) are trying to advance to the National League Championship Series for the first time in 12 years. Partisan grandstanding is keeping the impeachment proceedings from going anywhere. The UH administration still doesn't give a damn about students.

I start my morning off by having my car mutilated, and all I can think about is wanting to write about it.

So there it is. There's no hidden message dressed up as a failed attempt at satire. No drivel disguised as a rant. No witless musings, baseless attacks, political agenda or whining. This is just a filler I can live with.

De La Garza, a senior English major, can be reached at or

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