Thursday, May 22, 2008

Big Green Hummer

The one-year anniversary of the infamous Balsam Mountain Preserve Golf Course Dam Break is rapidly approaching, so I read with great interest this week’s article in the Smoky Mountain News regarding the continuing aftermath of the disaster.

While I was reading the article, for no particular reason I began to reminisce about a totally unrelated incident that occurred to me, also last June.

I’d gone to the supermarket to pick up a few groceries, and when I came back out of the store there was a terrible commotion in the parking lot.

Two frat boys, Jim and Craig, were joy-riding around the lot in an enormous green Hummer. I guess they were just trying to be macho and show off for Rosalie and some other hottie riding along with them.

Anyhow, they were driving round and round, faster and faster, trying to go airborne off the speed-bumps, scattering the shoppers and the grocery carts, cutting off cars that were trying to pull out of the lot.

People were angry. People were yelling at the Hummer:

“Slow down!”

“Watch out!!”

“What do you think you’re doing!!!”

Jim and Craig both flipped the bird as they sped by. Rosalie and the other girl were in hysterics, they were laughing so hard.

To avoid the danger, I waited before walking back to my car. Somebody next to me shrugged it off, “Ahh, just some kids out having fun…”

At that very moment the Hummer smashed into the side of my parked car. Then the Hummer lurched into reverse and came to a stop. I rushed out to survey the damage.

Jim and Craig jumped out of the Hummer and faced me down. They had that frat boy look, alright, hairy-legged boys in satin gym shorts and flip-flops.

It was Jim’s Hummer, but Craig had been driving, and as soon as he saw me, Craig stated pleading, “Hey man, it was an accident. Sorry, man. I couldn’t help it. It wasn’t my fault.”

I was steamed, “Accident, my foot, you guys could have killed somebody the way you were cutting up out here.”

Jim chimed in, “Nah, we’re really into safety, dude. That’s why I have a Hummer. Safest thing on the road, dude.” Jim said it with mock sincerity while Craig and their girlfriends were snickering and trying to contain their laughter.

Craig started to say, “Hey man, you shouldn’t have parked your car in OUR WAY…”

But Jim interrupted and tried to placate me, “Don’t worry, dude, I’ll take care of it. I’ll get your car fixed. Good as new, dude. BETTER than new.”

About that time, a police officer drove up, filled out a report and issued citations against Craig and Jim for various violations. The officer confided to me, “These guys have been causing trouble for a long time. We’ve written warning tickets, but it never did any good…”

I didn’t keep up with the legal proceedings against Jim and Craig. You know how it goes. Their hot-shot lawyer kept getting continuances, dragging things out, trying to get charges reduced, trying to get prayer-for-judgment. About what you’d expect.

I do know this. They gave me a big run-around when it came to fixing my car. They had my car hauled in to what they said was “the best body shop in Western North Carolina” and it sat there for weeks, waiting for parts, waiting for Bondo, waiting for paint.

When I finally got it back, the doors didn’t line up and the paint job didn’t match, but at least it was drivable. But what really got me was how they acted so put out:

“Hey man, WE paid to get your car fixed. It was coming out of OUR pockets, not yours, dude.”

Then, the other night, I was having a burger at O’Malley’s. I heard some familiar voices from down the way. Jim and Craig were leaving the bar along with their girlfriends. When they got near my booth, they recognized me. They had a good beer buzz going and were even more loud and belligerent than usual.

Jim started in on me, “Well if it’s not MISTER UNGRATEFUL. We paid to get his old car fixed and he’s STILL complaining, trying to say we’re reckless drivers. Accusing us of being IRRESPONSIBLE. Sheee-uuuutttt.”

There was a tense silence as all four of them glared at me. A second later, they moved along without another word. And as the door flung open for them to leave, I could hear them all guffawing.

I leaned over and looked out the window. They got on board that big green Hummer, and peeled rubber as they swerved around the corner of the building.

A split second later, I heard the familiar crunch of sheet metal.

And the faint sound of outraged voices.


Anonymous said...

Is this for real? what a story!

Western North Carolina Writer's Underground said...

Were these guys on 'spring break?' Nice metaphor.

GULAHIYI said...

I'd file larceny charges against me...if I were you.

Same guys, alright!