Thursday, September 22, 2011

I got rammed and had an evil thought

My Egg McMuffin lust landed me at the McDonald’s drive-thru yesterday morning, just like it does on more mornings than I care to admit.

But something odd happened yesterday.

This drive-thru has two lanes. When I arrived, a maroon minivan was idling at the fork between the two, waiting to see which lane might open up first.

I pulled behind her to wait my turn. Suddenly, the driver threw the minivan into reverse.

I had a split second to honk my horn. I didn’t actually locate the horn until after the minivan slammed into me. Hard.

I sat there stunned for a moment. I don’t generally expect to be rammed at 9 a.m., especially not by a stranger in the McDonald’s parking lot. With my whole body shaking, I stepped out of my car and surveyed the front of it.

A few words about my car: it’s old. It was the first new car I ever bought, but that was almost 14 years ago. It runs fine, but the front bumper has been smashed on one side for more than two years. Since it’s expensive to fix and the car is no showpiece, I’ve never bothered.

But as I stood there staring at a car that bore no damage beyond what existed when I got into it a few minutes before, an evil thought flitted through my brain:

The driver doesn’t know the bumper was already damaged. No one’s insurance company knows. They could pay to fix it.

No sooner had the evil thought crossed my mind when the other driver came hustling toward me. I didn’t even look up. “I’m OK,” I said. “The car is fine. That bumper was already damaged.”

Her expression was unreadable. “It was already like that?” She bit her lip. “Here, let me get my insurance information for you anyway.”

And so we did that awkward exchange people always do when they try to play it cool and pretend they know what they’re doing, but all they’re really thinking is, “holyshitholyshitholyshitholyshit.”

The other driver had trouble finding her insurance card at first, so while she fumbled and phoned, I pulled into the drive-thru.

What? I still needed my Egg McMuffin.

As I circled back around to meet the other driver, I mulled the evil thought. I know I’d never really lie like that. I don’t have it in me (insert additional ramming joke here).

Still, the evil thought was there, if only for a split second. I’m not proud of it, though maybe I should be proud I never would have acted on it. Does that cancel it out?

Once the Egg McMuffin was in my system and my hands stopped shaking, I got a closer look at the minivan. It was well-aged like my car, and the tires were bald. The driver was kind and a little frazzled.

Would I have felt differently if she’d acted belligerent? If she’d been driving a brand new Mercedes? If it bore an offensive bumper sticker?

As I drove away, one last thought hit me: the insurance info I scribbled for her was on a business card identifying me as an author with a new release and a three book deal.

What? Never miss a chance to sell a book.

I saw her studying the card as I got back in my car, and wondered what she was thinking.

If she’s like many people unfamiliar with the publishing world, she might operate under the misconception that published authors make tons of money.

One look at my car probably disavowed her of that notion. Did knowing my profession change her view of me? Did it change her view of authors?

Feel free to speculate on any of the questions I’ve posed here. Or hey, feel free to make a ramming joke.

Here, I'll get you started: Wow, my neck is kinda stiff from that hard ramming. And speaking of stiff...

22 comments :

Sarah W said...

I'm glad you're okay, lingering stiffness or not.

The last time I was rammed like that, it threw my back out . . . good times.

kimmullican.com said...

Good for you for being a good person in the end! Imagine if that woman were poor and depressed how that could have been devastating. I love your blog and your overall cheekiness. Hopefully people will see the moral of the story here.

Now about the ramming and stiffness...

Matthew MacNish said...

There are no evil thoughts, only evil actions. The mind comes up with all kind of depravities, but no matter what kind of person you are, there's nothing wrong with them unless you act on them.

Anyway. Last time I GOT RAMMED FROM BEHIND (actually it was from the front, but it was from his behind) it was ridiculous. We were in the parking lot at the local park, after our softball game, and this guy just backed slowly into us, in spite of all our honking. We couldn't back out of his way, because we were still halfway in our parking spot.

Anyway, you know what he said as an explanation? I'm so used to my other car with the backup alarm, I had no idea you were there.

So you expect you would have heard your little beep, but you couldn't hear our effing horn?

He was a total douche-canoe.

Patty Blount said...

In a society like ours where people can sue for damages caused by their own stupidity and WIN, it's nice to see there are still those of us with scruples.

Yes, I think the fact that you didn't act on that impulse cancels it out. If I acted on even a few of the impulses I have on a daily basis, I'd be serving consecutive life sentences.

Instead, they all end up in a book. :)

Patrick Alan said...

I want to know more about this egg mcmuffin. How did it taste? I think I am going out to get a Sausage McGriddle now. *drools*

Malin said...

My mom hoped for someone to hit the driver's door for YEARS so she could get a little insurance help... Our colt made a lovely dent in it once and my mom could never bother to fix it.

A year ago they crashed the car on the highway (no harm done on any person or any other car!) so evil thoughts might bring bad karma after all...

Harley May said...

To echo the other sentiments, I'm glad you're okay.

And we all have evil thoughts, however fleeting they may be.

Let's hear it for McDonald's breakfast time and ramming!

Shannon said...

At least you got the Egg McMuffin. That's all that matters.

I have to echo what Matt said so eloquently:

"There are no evil thoughts, only evil actions. The mind comes up with all kind of depravities, but no matter what kind of person you are, there's nothing wrong with them unless you act on them."

Dude, if I shared all the evil thoughts I have throughout the day, I'd be institutionalized in a red hot minute.

Kiersten said...

My very first thought when I got to "It runs fine, but the front bumper has been smashed on one side for more than two years." was "hey, now you can get it fixed with the new damage" so clearly, you're not alone in the thought process - either that or (and?) we're both going to hell.

Glad you're all right. People are stupid. For her sake, it's a good thing you're 'honest' or at least caring more about the egg mcmuffin than the fender bender.

sausage bisquit with cheese - my Micky D's downfall

Ruth Madison said...

It's awesome that you were willing to admit these thoughts. I think we all have those moments of evil and most of us are in control of that side of ourselves! You can't be faulted for the thought coming into your mind, but you did excellently against temptation.

Geoffrey Cubbage said...

I dunno, it seems to take quite a jolt to get the evil thoughts going in your brain. Me, I think about letting her roll back every time someone in a nice, expensive-looking, clearly-automatic-transmission car comes riding right up on my bumper on a steep hill.

'Cause I'm all about...letting my dirty girl get slippery...and rammed in the butt? Something like that.

Cortney said...

Wow glad you're okay! And how funny, because I totally would have thought the same thing! (Thought, not acted, just like you did). What an excellent excuse to hand out a biz card lol. Glad you still got your egg mcmuffin!

My Pink Overalls said...

Last year I rear-ended a car that was waiting in a line of traffic stopped at a railroad crossing. When I hit the car, it sounded like the train had derailed. Honest. Screeching-twisting-scraping metal sounds straight out of an omg-the-aliens-have-crashed movie.

We both pulled to the side of the road. I jumped out of my car and immediately started apologizing. Which I then immediately regretted. She was not happy, in fact she was borderline hostile. Which I understood. If she had rear-ended me I might have felt the same.

Then we looked at our cars. There was no visible damage. Nevertheless, we traded insurance info and I waited out the next few months wondering if I'd hear from an attorney or her insurance agent. I never did.

Tawna, I'm just glad you're ok.

Patrick Alan said...

I'm afraid of Shannon.

Tawna Fenske said...

Sarah, I actually got a little worried last night when my neck got really stiff, but everything seems OK this morning.

kimmullican, it does make me wonder how/if I might have felt differently about things if she'd seemed really wealthy and belligerent. Probably wouldn't have changed my actions, but might have amplified the evil thoughts!

Matthew, holy shit. I hope you did the world a favor and backed over the guy's head.

Patty, great point about impulses ending up in our books. That's probably a good thing!

Patrick, the Egg McMuffin was delightful, as always. I worship at the altar of the Egg McMuffin.

Malin, yikes! I'm a pretty big believer in karma, so if I HAD acted on my evil thought, I'm pretty sure I would have been hit by a semi by now.

Harley May, nothing quite like an early morning ramming. Or an afternoon ramming. Or a midnight ramming...

Kiersten, my mom is a sucker for the sausage ones. I'm glad my poison is the regular old Egg McMuffin, since those are pretty healthy (all things considered).

Ruth, rest assured, I have plenty of evil thoughts I DON'T mention!

Geoffrey, you may think about it, but do you actually DO it? Er, that sounded way more personal than I meant it to!

Cortney, I kinda wondered if curiosity might get the better of her and she'd end up reading this blog post today!

My Pink Overalls, it's amazing how loud a crash can sound with no damage actually done. Did you get back in your car and run the chick over?

Patrick, you should be.

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Linda G. said...

Eek! Glad you're okay.

Evil thoughts are fine. Cathartic, even. It's evil actions that will get you fried. I think you're safe. ;)

Susan S said...

The fact that you had the evil thought was normal. The fact that you didn't act on it is what reveals your character. The "best" person in the world will have a thousand evil thoughts a day. We all have them. What separates the "good" person from the wicked one is the choices they make in response to that thought and temptation.

Protagonists usually don't act on them.

Antagonists (read: villains) do.

You just put yourself firmly on the "white-hat" side of the line. (Not that the rest of us had any doubts!)

K.B. Owen said...

My weakness is the sausage biscuit (insert smarmy joke here...sausage in the biscuit? This stuff practically writes itself).

But Tawna, we all have that weakness of THINKING - thinking self-serving stuff, crummy things, and so on.

We are what we DO, not what we think.

Can't help the stiff neck though. :)

Jason said...

@Shannon - Sharing all those thoughts only makes you a writer. It's a get our of institutionalization free card. :)

I had someone back into me once too, waiting to get into the parking garage at Portland State. He backs into the front corner of my car, then we agreed to exchange info in the garage instead of out on Broadway. He went in, I paid the fee...and I never saw him again. Jagoff. I had all sorts of fun thoughts for that guy.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Tawna, no one else said this but it needs to be said: you may not know if there's further damage to YOU or your car until later, and it's imperative you trade insurance info anyway. I'm glad you did rather than just drive off but it's possible damage will surface later--this happened to me after getting hit by a red light runner and my car looked fine. Except its wheels were knocked off the shafts (giggle) and I had to be towed after driving a half block. Never would have known that initially. Glad you're ok. I expect you'll be bruised in the days to come.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

It's natural for you to feel tempted to lie, because you're human and we all get tempted sometimes. But the important thing is that you told the truth. I think it would have been harder to fight the temptation if she had been rude or if she had just driven off without even getting out of her car. But at least no one was hurt and she took responsibility for what she did.

Joe Duncko said...

I had to say this was one of the best blog posts I've read for a long time. A compelling story that ties everything back to the topic at hand (a writer's life)? I'm in.