Goodbye, Almeida

Posted on August 18, 2011

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Driving Almeida for One of the Last Times

This past weekend I said goodbye to the car that not only got me through college, but also got me through high school. I see it fit to pay a little homage to my life-saving car, Almeida, by highlighting some moments we shared.

And if you think I’m getting too oddly sentimental with my car, remember how Marshall from How I Met Your Mother bade farewell to his Fiero. I can’t be the only person alive who names her car and appreciate him for what he is – a good vehicle.

The Accidents –

My very first accident in Almeida occurred in a Dominick’s parking lot. I was backing out, without a thought that I would hit something or someone, simultaneously with a person who was also backing out in the opposite direction. Thankfully, it worked out. Although the other driver tried pinning all blame on me, I told her insurance agent a thing or two over the phone. And that was the end of it.

The worst accident happened when my sister was driving, actually. A couple years after my little parking lot fender bender, my sister was driving from Wisconsin to Illinois at night. It was winter, but there wasn’t snow falling or on the ground, so it seemed safe enough to drive. Unfortunately, while she was driving on the highway, she hit a patch of black ice and spun out of control. She safely made it to the side of the road. But then two other cars hit the dark patch, both hitting Almeida while my sister was inside. The entire front passenger door was smashed, knocking the side mirror off and destroying the entire door. Luckily, no one was sitting in the passenger seat that night.

The last accident I’m aware of happened just last year. The day had come to put our almost 11-year-old dog down. I was on my way to work, nonchalantly switching radio stations when I rear-ended the car in front of me. The girl I had hit had little to no damage on her bumper, but we both saw fit to exchange insurance information and phone numbers. We had agreed to not get the police involved, but to work things out between the two of us. Little did I know that that would be the last time I ever talked to this girl. Instead, I spoke with her very angry, greedy mother a half-dozen times before realizing I had to get the police and our insurance agent involved. After attempting to scheme me out of more than twice the amount of damage her car had “suffered,” I phoned my agent and worked out the details. I ended up paying much less than I would have had I continued to speak and endure long, anger-crazed shouts in a heavy accent. Let’s just say I don’t like to look down when I drive from here on out.

The Run-Ins with the Police –

Now, there’s not many, but there are a few. The first time I got pulled over was for speeding. I was on my way back to school on a Thursday evening, trying to make dorm lock. I was driving close to 20 mph over the limit on the highway, but thought nothing of it until a car coming from the opposite direction immediately turned on its headlights and swung a large U-turn in my direction. I immediately knew I had been caught. According to the officer, I had been going 19 mph over. I was shocked and strangely upset, not knowing exactly how I was supposed to deal with it. Unfortunately, I knew no special tricks to weed my way out of a ticket, and the officer didn’t seem willing to comply even if I were the hottest chick alive. I received a hefty ticket and slowly drove the rest of the way back to school. From there on, I went to court and got my ticket lowered to 9 mph over, and saved $21, a small portion of the ticket. I’ve never driven 20 mph over the limit since.

Possibly the funniest run-in with the police happened around my church when I was in high school. A friend and I were driving out of the church lot. She had her computer on her and decided she needed to access the Internet right from the car. She had the idea that if we were parked on the in the middle of the road (on a side street), she would be able to gain access by being placed closely to people’s homes. At this point, I had never been pulled over or even made contact with a police officer for anything driving-related. Out of nowhere, a bright flash of headlights shown on my car. She knew we had been caught; I, however, was confused. An officer approached my window and asked what we were doing. Although the rest of this story is hazy to me, I do remember not saying much, except that we needed to park. He informed us that we could just park in the church lot. Never again would I let a friend convince me that Internet was necessary by parking in the middle of a road, ha!

Last year must have been a rough year for Almeida, because it was also the most recent time I have gotten pulled over. I was on my way home from work. As I was approaching a stop sign, I quickly slid through it. I had driven this path multiple times because there was little traffic – hence, the slow speed limit. I thought nothing of running through it until I saw a cop watching. Immediately, I knew I had been caught, but I continued to drive. In fact, I made two turns down major roads before the cop had caught up to me and turned of his siren and lights. It had been 3 years since I had been pulled over for speeding in Wisconsin. When he asked for my insurance, I stupidly handed him my health insurance card. He looked at me strangely and most have noticed I was unbelievably nervous. After he pointed out that I had, indeed, handed him the wrong type of insurance, I pulled out the car insurance and handed it to him. He asked me where I worked, and I told him. I felt ridiculous, telling him I worked at a Baptist press. He went back to his car and didn’t come back for at least 10 minutes. Eventually, he comes back and tells me to be more careful. He let me off the hook and I didn’t receive a ticket. It was such a glorious moment for me! I rarely have bragging rights, but this – this was great. I finally had managed to not get a ticket when I was pulled over.

The Adventures –

Possibly one of the funniest and stupidest things I have done in Almeida happened when I was first learning to drive. I had 25 hours of driving to get in with my parents. To this day, I’m convinced my parents dreaded it more than anything else. On this particular day, I had decided I wanted to go to Blockbuster. My dad was in the passenger seat. He had already shut the windows, turned off the radio, reminded me to adjust my mirrors, and droned on about the dangers of listening to the radio while driving because it was distracting, and that was that. I was just parking in the space when I slammed on the gas instead of the brakes. The car hurled over the curb and onto the sidewalk of Blockbuster. My dad was livid, shouting and raising his arms. This memory lapse of which pedal is which has continued to plague me to this day. I find myself getting concerned if I start to think about which pedal is which. At least it still makes for a funny story.

Most of the other adventures I experienced in Almeida were during high school. Trips to ding dong ditch classmates, make ridiculous orders through drive-thrus, turn off random people’s Christmas lights, and light fireworks in faculty’s backyards were some of the many excursions Almeida played a part in. I’ll never forget that it was because of being tardy 3 times my senior year in high school, leaving myself only 5 minutes to drive to school, park, and rush into homeroom, that I received detention on my very last day of high school. It was in my car while driving that I had mastered the art of the taking a “car pic.” It was my car that I often sought refuge in from school and dramatic social situations during college. I listened to great music, and was introduced to some of the best music I’ve ever heard while driving Almeida.

College Ted and Marshall singing I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers in Marshall’s Fiero.

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Although Almeida has a smashed in backseat door from a hit and run, a left speaker blown out, a college sticker that ceases to release itself from the rear window, a license plate ziptied through the loops, window wipers that work only on medium speed, a large, dark stain from a friend spilling coke on a speaker, and a clock that runs 6 minutes fast, Almeida has been with me longer than any romantic relationship, many friendships, and longer than any diets I ever attempted. I owe a lot to my first car. It was my sister’s high school graduation gift, later to be handed down to me to make some of the craziest and most awesome memories I now keep.

Goodbye, Almeida. It’s been a nice ride.

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Posted in: Personal, Random