Taste Testing for Engine Fluids

All this talk about teen driving has made me remember my own first (and last, thank you very much) accident. 
I was sixteen years old, and we were moving from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada to Okanogan Washington. If you've never heard of it, congratulate yourself. Kidding. Sort of. There were 43 students in my graduating class and I'll bet five of us weren't high on something at commencement.
Besides the point.
We were driving. I was driving, specifically down an Idaho highway late in the afternoon when the sun had begun to set and the slush in the traffic lanes was beginning to solidify into deep, frozen ruts. And the middle aged occupants of the car had dozed off. 
Now, just keep in mind that I'm telling this from the teen me point of view. I'm sure my mother's account would differ, but she doesn't blog so it's totally my story–believe who you will.
We were coming around a slight bend in the road and a semi appeared over a rise. Just as a particularly jarring rut of ice woke my mother up and she found herself–seemingly–face to grill with a semi-truck. She grabbed the wheel and jerked it with all the strength of a mother saving four of her children from the idiot fifth one behind the wheel over to the right. We sailed . . .  off the shoulder, shearing a signpost–one of those big ones that tell you how far each of the next half a dozen towns are away–off at the base. It cartwheeled over the car, tearing a gash in the roof, and we came to rest in a snowbank. 
The State patrol officer actually thought it was pretty funny. 
The mechanic could not, for the life of him, figure out what the brown fluid in the snow was, as the integrity of the engine seemed unaffected. Recommended we not drive it far. Until he resorted to tasting the fluid and discovered that it was root beer. 
I kid you not.
We drove the rest of the way through Idaho, got lost in freezing fog somewhere over by the Grand Coulee Dam and arrived safely sometime the next morning to begin the process of becoming Americans in earnest. (A process which can take a surprising number of years (13 was it?) if you are white, non-criminal, and even married to an American.) 
I'm taking my daughter out driving this evening for the first time.

I don't plan to be drowsy, and I will be repeating this mantra in my head: I will not yank the steering wheel out of my daughter's hands. I will not yank the steering wheel out of my daughter's hands. I will not yank…

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9 responses to “Taste Testing for Engine Fluids

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