I Killed the Car This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

September 28, 2012
It's funny how in a moment all of the things you are anticipating and anxious about can be swept away. When tunnel vision sets in, you become so engrossed in the issue at hand that nothing else matters. Similarly, when you get in an argument, sometimes it doesn't even matter who's wrong or right; it just matters who wins. This is the story of how I killed my father's car.

It was the morning of January 4, and I was a senior in high school. It was a Tuesday. Like every other morning, I showered, threw on whatever clothing I deemed socially acceptable, and snatched the car keys off the kitchen counter.

“Whoa, there,” said my dad, “you're not driving today. The roads are covered in snow. You're taking the bus.”

I protested that the bus had already passed, so Dad volunteered to drive me. An intense argument followed, not uncommon between us. My mother always says that my father is the second most stubborn person in the world; she also says that I am the first. As my mother is only home on weekends, this made for an interesting situation growing up. Most nights included shouting matches, the two of us hurling words back and forth with reckless abandon.

But that day I won the argument, and Dad relinquished the keys. Content, I said good-bye and walked out to the car. There was about an inch coating the roads of my neighborhood. So much for “snowy roads,” Dad, I thought sarcastically.

The Mazda's steering wheel and stick shift were cold, but the little car warmed up quickly and I pulled out. Passing my empty bus stop, I made my way through the winding wintry roads of my neighborhood. One bend in particular is accompanied by a steep drop in the road. This turn makes for adrenaline-pumping summer driving, ripping through the bend with the windows down, hearing your tires scrape against the pavement, struggling to maintain traction.

This morning, however, I took the turn at a considerably more conservative pace: about 10 miles per hour. I was mindlessly fiddling with the radio, trying to find my favorite oldies station, and when I looked back at the road, I noticed I was drifting closer to the five-foot snowbank at the curb. I pulled the wheel a tiny bit more, and suddenly the pit of my stomach rose as the little sports car began to slip on the thin layer of snow.

In a crisis, most people say time slows, and they have time to react, but for me, time actually sped up, and the next thing I knew my car rammed into the snowbank.

I think I sat there for 30 seconds, taking in what had just happened. The car was now pitched up at about a 30-degree angle.

The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. Over my quickened breathing, I couldn't hear a thing. Where was the sound of the engine, the radio? I had killed the car.

Instinctively, I reached for the ignition. Depressing the clutch, I turned the key, and the Mazda's starter whined its protest, but the engine didn't turn over. I cursed loudly and tried it two more times. On the third try, the engine sputtered to life with some help from the gas pedal. I jammed the stick shift into reverse and revved the engine, but all I got in return were clumps of snow shooting past my window as the little car tried vainly to extricate itself from the mountain of snow.

I was stuck.

I'll push it out and Dad will never know was my next thought. I scaled the bank to get a better look, and my heart sank. There was the front bumper, cracked and crushed between the snowbank and the car.

I swore again and leaned on the hood, putting my weight against it. The car, which now resembled a beached whale, didn't budge.

I was slowly coming to the realization that I was going to have to call my father. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was no other choice. I began dialing.

After a curt discussion with my father, which involved more cursing, an uncomfortable silence, and me putting my foot in my mouth, he arrived, and we dug the car out with help from a neighbor.

Now, every time I have an intense argument with someone, I think back to the day I killed my dad's car. Leaving that morning, I knew I shouldn't have been driving without snow tires, but I was determined – not to drive to school, but to win. It's important to re-evaluate every once in a while, to make sure that what you're fighting for hasn't changed. I learned that it's less important to win than it is to be wise.

So $800 and a new bumper later, here I am, a little humbler and a little wiser.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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BeilaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Mar. 5, 2015 at 12:27 am
Too cute! :) You definitely made me laugh out loud at your predicament; your obstinacy just blazed clear through the words. The title is a fantastic eye-catcher, and that moment where, in all solemnity, you announce, "I had killed the car"--priceless! The bleached whale comparison just sent it over the edge. :) I love the humor, and good for you for learning your lesson!
Fresch-kids This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 5, 2013 at 7:07 pm
Great piece! And i absolutely agree that it's more important to be wise than to win an argument. thanks for sharing!
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