Cars

Exhibit 1.3.4

This Happened


My photo. I call it: A Trailblazer on Its Side After Striking My Parked Car Illuminated by 3:00am Police Lights

Not pictured:

1) The driver and his passenger who, uh, ran, apparently
2) My totalled car
3) Me, still sort of asleep, asking the police officer if I could just have the car they left behind
4) Helpful neighbors all introducing themselves and shaking hands as they watched, possibly plotting future barbeques
5) Me, slightly less asleep, saying, No, really, let’s just flip it over and I’ll take it

2 Comments / Posted in Cars, Good Ideas, No sleep

Exhibit 20.27

Everything I Own

Not pictured:

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Cars, Seitzers

Exhibit 18.18

A Running Catalogue of My Thoughts While, um, Running

I should buy running shoes…(four months later)…I should wear my running shoes…I know, I’ll wear them while reading Murakami’s book on running…I can’t believe I used to read without proper arch support…(three months later)…running: I’m going to do it Tuesday…god, it’s Tuesday…Wednesday…oh no, I put on my running outfit…so many rhinestones…should have bought headband…headband with rhinestones…maybe I should put off running until I can go to the headband store…no, it’s Thursday, I should just do it…okay…how does running work?…I’ll start with stretching…should stretch outside…hi, kids…I’m just here stretching…maybe instead of running I should help you draw on the sidewalks…yeah, that’s cool, I didn’t really want to anyway…you kids are lame…that’s not even how you spell that dirty word…okay, thirty-five minutes of stretching should be sufficient for ten minute run…all right…I’m running…this isn’t so bad…oh god this is horrible…I hope there’s traffic at the intersection so I can’t stop and maybe do some more stretching…I’m starting to think I did not stretch enough…or maybe I shouldn’t have gone running after drinking all that coffee…there’s no traffic…I must have been running for at least half a mile…or however long I got during the one minute and thirty seconds my iPod is telling me I’ve been listening to this track…why do I only have French lesson podcasts on my running iPod anyway…merde!…I can’t believe I used to learn French without proper arch support…I need to do something to pass the time or this is going to be excruciating…I know, I’ll come up with imaginary car names…the Hyundai Swoon, the Mercury Nyx, the Honda Yall (for a cross-over SUV/van aimed at extreme 20-somethings who surf and camp and whatnot)…must remember car names so I can mail to respective car companies when I get back…if I get back…how much time did that take? thirty seconds…that’s not enough time…tu peux m’aider?…it would be fantastic if someone mugged me right now…I think I’d hug them while handing over my running shoes…even if they didn’t want the running shoes…I’d say, no, no it’s okay, you should take them…thank god I’m almost home…how long was I gone…hmm, not long enough for my screensaver to come on…and my coffee is still warm…and the burrito I put in the microwave is still microwaving…come on burrito…I know how to pass the time…I’ll come up with imaginary car names the Toyota Reprise, the Ford Pulse, the Chevy Kleos…(eight months later)…my legs still hurt…

Comment / Posted in Cars, Murakamis, Running

Exhibit 16.14

Ever since my car battery was disconnected a week or so ago my “anti-theft” factory stereo has been silent until I could track down the code which would again grant me access to my Oasis CDs.

I’m joking about some of that. Guess which part?

Let’s hope you were right.

So on the drive back from Kansas City, on the way to work, on the way home from work, on the way to the monster truck races, etc. I’ve had nothing but silence and, occasionally, the thrill of having seen a car eat another car.

I’m joking about…oh, to hell with it.

Let me see if I can replicate the drive back from Kansas City for you:

Kansas: [amber waves of grain]
Missouri: [complicated Civil War legacy]
Iowa: [Burger King]
Nebraska: [corn rustling/wrestling]

Anyway, this is just a preface to the real reason I’m posting.

MY CAR STEREO CODE IS 55353

Good, now we all know it. I’m going to be calling you next time this happens.

I realize this means you could steal my car stereo, put it in your car, and listen to my copy of Be Here Now. That’s a risk I’m willing to take.

If you’re so inclined, my car is going to be in a poorly lit section of the little-guarded long-term parking lot of the Omaha airport starting tonight. So, um, knock yourself out if you want to listen to “D’You Know What I Mean?”

You probably don’t want to listen to “D’You Know What I Mean?”

Comment / Posted in 55353, Cars, Music

Exhibit 16.7

In case you thought I was crazy when talking about the abandoned car on the top of my parking garage:


There it is in all of its loneliness.

In case you thought I got a new camera and wanted to show off, you’re wrong.

In fact, Old-timey Brett has something to say about that:

“Consumer goods aren’t going to make you happy, Adam. I reckon you need to find interests that fill your heart rather than empty your wallet. Yes sir, I do.”

Hmm, I don’t like Old-timey Brett.

3 Comments / Posted in Brett, Cars, Wisdom

Exhibit 16.5

There’s a car in my parking garage that hasn’t moved in over a month. I know it hasn’t moved because the front driver’s side tire is flat and always rotated at the same angle. It’s not in a reserved space. It doesn’t have a note on it. It’s just there waiting on the top floor of the garage facing west, its flat tire pointing at the Cornhusker Hotel.

No one seems concerned about the car.

I am concerned about the car.

It’s odd that someone abandoned a car in a parking garage when the only issue is a flat tire. It’s a grey Ford Taurus, and my guess is that it’s somewhere around a 2003. I didn’t write down the class, but let’s say it’s the 4-door SE sedan without any extra options but a moon roof (I’m thinking the moon roof is why they parked on the top of the garage. They wanted the views. I’m also thinking they didn’t want the CD player because the person probably didn’t want to pay for all of their country music a second time [did I mention the car is from Texas? It’s from Texas]). As for mileage, I’ll assume it’s somewhere around 60k. This might be conservative, but I know at least one month where the car has racked up exactly zero miles. I’ll say the car is in fair condition due to its flat tire and weeks of neglect during winter.

That makes the Blue Book $3,510. Presumably the person would settle for a flat $3.5k if you bought them an extra value meal while negotiating the price down ten dollars. That seems like too much to abandon, right?

I guess I feel like one of those Kitty Genovese witnesses because I see this car and do nothing about it. Is my responsibility diffused because the woman who drives a white Volvo and the man who drives a blue Suburban also park next to it day after day? Surely if it’s anyone’s responsibility it’s the Suburban guy.

It’s actually a rather sad way to go into work. Some nice Texans parked their car in Lincoln, Nebraska, only to disappear forever. Now the car just waits like some loyal beagle in the snow.

Either we’re missing some Texans or some Texans are missing a car. Whatever the situation, I’m missing some of whatever it takes to do something about the situation. How long would that car have to be there before I asked somebody?

My guess: four months. And even then I’d probably just mention it in feigned casualness to a co-worker on the elevator, trying hard to make it seem like I hadn’t been thinking about it for four months.

Me: Hey, I just noticed that Taurus on the top floor of the garage hasn’t moved in awhile.
Co-worker: Yeah, it’s been there since November. I asked about it around Thanksgiving and found out it’s some guy’s from the life insurance company on the 8th floor. I guess he’s in China for six months or something. No big deal.
Me: Oh.
Co-worker: So are you excited about everything happening on today, Wednesday, May 13th?

I’m less than good.

Comment / Posted in Abandoned, Cars, Unanswered questions

Exhibit 13.13

A Running Catalogue of My Thoughts During an Automobile Accident on Sunday

Let’s get coffee…I don’t want to drive, Dad, you should…No, I don’t think anything unordinary is going to happen either…Hey, that lady’s going the unordinary way down 10th Street…So now we’re spinning…Hooray for spinning…(hands in air)…Oops, we’ve stopped……Oh no, this is like one of those Volkswagen commercials with the unexpected car crash…Wow, the fact that I can only understand my reality through television commercials is a little sad…Paging, Dr. Delillo……Wait, I always spell his name wrong and I don’t think that’s right…Oh, yeah, I should see if my dad’s okay…He is!…(assessing)…Hey, that lady’s continuing to drive the wrong way down 10th Street…Huh, I bet she’s coming back…My dad doesn’t think she’s coming back…Why can’t you just let her in, Dad. Why can’t you learn to trust?…Huh, doesn’t seem like she’s coming back…Hello, Officer, I won’t hold it against you’re the wrong type of Peterso/en…I think it was a silver Mazda-like car…Guy who witnessed the accident thinks it was a gold Corolla-like car…I wish we’d made it to get coffee…They caught her! Yes!…She’s very elderly and was confused on her way to church! No!…Now I feel bad…It was a silver Kia…Yes! I nailed the continent of origin…I should tell Officer Peters(o)n what a reliable witness I would be in a murder case…No, no I shouldn’t…Thanks, Officer Peters_n, you were most helpful if not a little misspelled….Coffee!…Bye, Dad, good luck with getting back to Kansas City…Oh, no, the Dolphins lost badly. This is the worst thing that’s happened today except for that commercial I had…(whistling circus theme for several hours)…Oh, boy, I’m asleep!…Sure, I can help you stop the Nazis, Dr. Jones…(adventures)…Oh no, I’m awake and typing…

I know what you’re all asking and the answer is, yes, I do spell proper names in my thoughts.

Comment / Posted in Cars, Petersens, Sunday

Exhibit 7.23


I don’t know how well you can see it in that picture, but that’s a footprint on the top of my car. There was also one on the hood. And one on the windshield.

I’ve reenacted what I imagined happened with the part of my car being played by Kenneth Branagh.

1 Comment / Posted in Branaghs, Cars, Reenactments

Exhibit 7.2

I have a short story in the new issue of CutBank which you can learn all about here. It also features work by Tomaz Salamun, Matt Hart, Dennis McFadden, and many others. Plus, cool silhouette art by Andy Smetanka. I haven’t had a chance to read it all yet, but so far it’s fantastic.

My story is titled “The Department of Calamitous Events” and is notable for being my only story inspired by Heather’s car. See, her car has a very idiosyncratic way of automatically locking the doors when you least expect, and I like to imagine what scenarios the engineers foresaw where this would be a safety feature rather than a confusing and threatening inconvenience. Of course, it is a VW and it’s possible the random locking and unlocking of doors is the number one crime prevention technique in Germany. This is probably what fahrvergn├╝gen means.

After that thrilling description of its origins, I can’t imagine anyone will ever read that story. I’m okay with that as long as you read the rest of the issue.
Comment / Posted in Cars, Journals, Writing

Exhibit 5.2

There’s a car in my office’s parking garage that looks exactly like mine. Same model, color, interior, etc. Whoever owns it even arrives at the same time I do as we often end up parking next to each other. I imagine other people saw our cars next to each other the first time and thought it was vaguely interesting or at least the sort of thing a perceptive person might note and say ‘huh’ about. Every other time those people see this happen they probably think how much they hate having to walk through a parking garage on their way to work and lament how bland, consumer anomalies like this shock them into confronting the passing of time because they’ve seen it again and again.

Anyway, I don’t know how the other guy handles it, but it completely throws me off when we end up parking next to each other. I have to pause mid-step and look at our license plates to figure out which car is mine. Twice I have tried to open the wrong car door when I wasn’t paying attention. Even after I’m driving home I sometimes have a moment where I panic and think that I’m actually in the other guy’s car. He probably thinks I’m trying to steal it or maybe he just drives my car home and doesn’t even notice because we listen to the same radio station. This, of course, is a crazy thing to think.

1 Comment / Posted in Bland, Cars, Twice