This week I earned the latter.
Yes, I did something really stupid with the car. I backed into a tree and busted the back window of our Honda Odyssey. But wait, it wasn’t my fault! Honest. Listen to my story. Then you’ll see why I wasn’t really that stupid. The evidence:
Exhibit number one: I lived most of my adult life in Indonesia where I learned to back into parking spots. The space between cars (in parking lots, on the roads, anywhere and everywhere) is always less in Indonesia, and backing out of a parking place is way scarier than backing into a parking place. Everybody there backs into parking places. It’s way easier to get your car into a skinny parking place than to go in head first. Going head first also means you have to maneuver back and forth a couple of times until your car is straight (that is, if you’re the decent kind of parker). In fact, parking attendants in Indonesia almost universally direct drivers to back in. So, I was preconditioned to back into parking places. Now three years after returning to the States, I can’t kick the habit. So, my background made me do it.
Exhibit number two: I wasn’t in a hurry, was braking against impulse power (automatic transmission), and was creeping backward, waiting for the back tire to catch on the curb. Then a loud explosion sounded—as if someone had rammed the back of my car. But there wasn’t the slightest jolt of impact. People in the parking lot ran to see what had happened. (Yes, that was embarrassing to the hilt.) The glass shattered everywhere, all over the landscape island as well as in the back section of the Odyssey. I didn’t even hit the tree. Well, not the trunk of the tree, anyway. You see, the tree had a sawed-off branch sticking out ten inches from the trunk, pointing straight at my car window. It shouldn’t have been there. Exhibit number two.
Exhibit number three: My two sons, 17 and 20, were in the car. Both of them will attest to the fact that I did nothing wrong. “Dad, we didn’t even feel the slightest resistance when you hit that knobbed branch,” the older one said. If there’s anyone in my family with the propensity to razz me about the incident, it would have been him. I especially appreciated his testimony when I had to explain the incident to my wife.
So you see, with all this overwhelming evidence, my case should be rock solid in everyone’s mind. I should not be blamed for the inconvenient fact that the back window of our Honda Odyssey broke.
Oh, I forgot one last exhibit that should rest this case forever.
Exhibit number four: I’ve managed to stay ticket and accident free for the last three years (the last ticket I got was decades ago). Every other family member has had some minor incident during these three years that brought insurance into play. Not me. Ooh, that makes me feel so good to be able to say that! I might even get downright smug about it…. Exhibit number four.
Oh, but wait: This week came along. Such an inconvenient fact. But remember, it wasn’t my fault!
Post Script: My youngest son just reminded me that although he was cited for a moving violation, he got a deferred sentence, and thus, it didn’t affect our insurance premium.