Give Her A Brake

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Nothing makes you feel as inadequate as not being there for your kids when they call you and they’re in trouble. My cell phone is usually set on manner mode (vibrate) in my purse. I hate to have my phone ringing when I’m out and about, but that’s just it – I don’t always hear it. I found, later, that I’d missed two calls from my older daughter Josie. I was only gone 10 minutes to pick up lo mein – a quick supper to split with my younger daughter Kathie. Mark was planning to have pizza with friends before a football game.
When I got home, Mark was standing by his car in the driveway with cell phone to his ear. I rarely see him on his cell phone because it’s often me who’s talking to him on it. I figured something was up, and I was right. Josie was telling her dad that she wrecked the car she’d been driving since she turned 16. A used Escort sedan, it had served us well. Now, the brakes had given out in three-lane traffic, causing a chain reaction collision with the two cars in front of her. Thank heaven, her first pump on the brake pedal slowed her down. When she pushed the second time, it swooshed to the floor. If you’ve ever experienced brake failure, you know there’s nothing quite like it. That familiar foot action is so automatic that, when the expected result of slowing/stopping doesn’t happen, it’s a jolt of adrenalin to be sure. Josie was OK. No one was hurt. She was waiting in a patrol
car for her car to be towed. It looked like it took the worst of
the accident.
“It’s stored at a towing company in Akron, Mom,” she phoned me that evening. “We’ll need to go get my stuff out, but I don’t think the car is worth fixing.”
“It should have been towed closer to home with our AAA Plus,” I said.
“Well, this is what the policeman advised,” she explained. “He said it would be quicker to get it off the highway than waiting for AAA.”
Sure, I thought. Getting her car off the busy highway ASAP was best for him but not so convenient for us.
I found we owed a hefty towing fee, storage charges per day (of course, this happening on a weekend) and we’d owe for at least three days before we could arrange to get the car.
Oh, if I signed the title over to this towing place, that would take care of the costs. Right. We put four new tires on this spring and Josie had installed a CD player worth at least $100. Sure, that should cover them all right. I’d rather pay what we owed and get it away from there.
Help came when I was put in touch with a guy nearby who agreed to tow it home from Akron for a modest fee. He cleaned out Josie’s belongings and by the time I stopped to pick things up, the CD player was removed and packed with the rest: jumper cables, ice scrapers, blankets, pillows, the rug she lined her
trunk with, maps, etc. (even the loose change that had scattered when the crash occurred). He would give me the tires later. I decided he could have the car and get what he could by selling it for scrap.
“She should have pulled the emergency brake,” Mark said.
I sympathized with Josie, remembering that during the
brief time it takes to have a car accident, there’s little time to make decisions.
“Everything about driving becomes such a habit that we react almost automatically,” I said. “In the time it takes to realize your brake pedal doesn’t work and remember to try the emergency brake, it would probably have been too late.”
We are so thankful. If my child had to have an auto accident, and it seems inevitable these days, this was the kind I’d wish for. Now, that’s a real break!

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