03 December 2008

She Took the Power out of Power Steering

So I'm driving down Highway Six this morning, just like any other morning, singing along to some country song about coolers slushin' on the back of a truck, when I suddenly realize:

"Why am I gripping this steering wheel so hard?"

When I look down at my hands, I notice my knuckles are turning white from the death grip I've got on the wheel. It feels kind of hard to keep the Tahoe running a straight course....

"Is it really that windy outside?"

I do a quick perusal out the windows and don't see any other vehicles thrashing about on the highway or trees bending at the waist or even Chad's socks flying by, so what's the deal?

And then Highway Six gently bends to the right...and the wrestling match ensues:

BECKER, weight nunya ~ vs. ~ TAHOE, aka Death Machine

The road is running right, and my hardheaded misery machine is forging gallantly ahead, directly towards the concrete divider. I'm all but hanging my entire body across the width of my console, trying to curve to the right. You know...like staying in the lines?

At this point, my nerves have become peaked, and the anxiety has started tapping me on the shoulder. But thankfully, there is no immediate escalation, for the journey remains a straight line after that initial curve. Until my exit, that is.

This is when it gets sticky.

I notice smoke curling around the outside edge of the hood....

"My. Isn't that pretty."

And then I get to the traffic light at the corner, where I'm to turn left, go over the bypass, and commence the journey down Briarcrest. But Tallulah has obviously lost her head at this point and persists in one thing only: driving straight. I can't turn left. No matter what I do. The 18-wheeler behind me is honking and flashing lights. I can just feel everyone looking at me through their windshields, judging my lack of driving skills.

"Doesn't she know to turn the wheel left if that's the direction she wants to go?"

I turn the flashers on. Yes, that's good. Helpful. Definitely. I'm now up on the sidewalk that runs along SIDE the overpass. At least three out of four wheels, anyway.

Now I start to sweat. I can either continue to drive straight, which is what Tallulah seems hell bent on doing, and instantly find myself dive bombing off the embankment and REjoining Highway Six traffic down below, or I can continue on this arc and hit the guardrail and fencing head on.

I start to pray outloud.

"Oh sweet Jesus...."

I barely clear it. Then, I say thank you. After that, I attempt to anticipate the next curve or turn I'm going to have to maneuver with other worldly strength. Then, I say "sweet Jesus" one more time.

Just when I think it can't possibly get any worse (I should so know better....), I get to the parking lot at work and need to make the sharpest left then right turn on the planet in order to land in my designated spot. Needless to say, it didn't work. I ended up nearly broadsiding the truck that parks one over from me. It didn't matter that I was hanging all of my body weight on the steering wheel, trying to force it to turn. It didn't matter that I had my feet and legs wrapped around the steering column, trying for more leverage. It didn't matter that someone was tailgating me and wondering how drunk one has to be to park in this manner. It didn't even matter that I was grunting the whole time.

She wasn't gonna turn. No way, jose. Not over her dead body. So there she still sits. Crooked. Broken. Probably still smoking. Lonely. And cold.

And you know what?

I don't care. Not one bit. I hope my shaking, sweating, crying body haunts her through the dark night.

The Flight of the Runaway Paddywagon
It's the title to her epitaph and the theme song to that weird, slow motion, frantic struggle she put me through this morning. May her next oil change be truly painful and her next tire rotation be handled by a mechanic as unwieldy as she was this morning.

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