2. I drove my car with no door
My only regret is I didn’t film the reactions
If you read my first story involving my old Chrysler you’ll see how now I call it ‘my’ car. I’m growing wiser by the day. This one wasn’t all my fault though and is shorter so you’ll like that and involves Swingers instead of a concert.
See we were going to see Swingers (1996) on a dark and stormy night in late October in Northern California. Ok it wasn’t stormy but it was wet and boy was it dark. We were leaving from my friends’ house yes in the same car that had the hood fly up and shatter the windshield (story no. 1) and his parents had a long gravel driveway called Appleseed which I thought it’d be fun to peel out in reverse on so I did. You remember the humongous 1965 Chrysler that weighs two tons right? You also remember the so-so brakes right — the ones that didn’t grab?
Yeah I hadn’t done anything about them.
So I’m flying in reverse towards a small two lane country road on a dark rainy night and so I slammed on the brakes again and they slowed me but didn’t stop because you remember they have grooves in them so the pads don’t touch on all the important parts and it was wet and so I ended up with one tire in the ditch. A muddy ditch. We laughed and then I said oh shoot and put the gear selector it in drive and nope it wouldn’t go.
Spinning like a record — round, right round.
I wondered if it had posi-traction but I figured it didn’t and so I tried again and it was clear it didn’t and so then I wasn’t laughing anymore. Posi-traction is where if one wheel spins it will lock the other wheel so it’s double the fun and usually you’ll get out of the jam. (see My Cousin Vinny for a better explanation). I also didn’t mention previously these mid-60’s Chryslers are over 18’ long and this one was 18’ 8” which is like 218 inches so yeah I was completely blocking one lane and was maybe two feet into the other lane too. My friend ran to get his brother, some chains, and his dad’s green Ford truck to pull me out while his girlfriend got out of the car and watched from the safer side of the road. I assume she figured any side I wasn’t on was the safer side. She would have been right.
Then I remembered my lights.
I had thought my alternator was maybe going out and now I was forced to admit my alternator was going out. Ok fine it was already out. So that meant if I left my lights while the friend was running to get chains and his dads green truck my battery would run dead. So now my 18’ long two ton Chrysler was blocking one and a half lanes of Pleasant Hill rd. on a rainy night with no headlights. So I got out in the rain and had on a white-ish sweater which I thought would warn someone not to hit me and I watched for traffic. Do you think my sweater would work?
When my friend came running back with his brother, some chains and the truck, just then a car was coming in the distance. I waved at the car but it didn’t slow so I waved more and jumped up and down and then it still wasn’t slowing down so I started shouting hey and then HEY and then my friends’ girlfriend named K shouted “get out of the way!” because the car was heading right for me and so I obeyed her and jumped across the ditch and grabbed onto a rusty section of barbed wire fencing with my wet hands and heard a long and loud screeech and then a big CRUNCH as an old body-style Honda Accord — you remember those teal ones they made like a million of them — well it slammed right into my driver’s door with the drivers-side front corner of the Honda.
I might have lost my legs if K hadn’t yelled.
The driver got out and yeah he was upset at my car blocking the road and he had a point and why weren’t my lights on but I smelled alcohol on his breath so I let him rant and then yeah his insurance didn’t fight it not even a little so I knew he was probably drunk. Or at the least a bit tossed. As we stood there in the dark rainy night I thought he looked a little familiar but I didn’t say anything then a couple weeks later when I was in my favorite record and CD store I remembered that he was the owner and he still seemed a little steamed but good thing he didn’t recognize me from the dark night because I bought the new album of a guy I had wanted to see at a concert this one time in Berkeley.
So that’s how my door got hit.
* * *
And since the door wouldn’t open and since I drove to work maybe twice having to get in and out through the passenger side it seemed safer to just take the door off altogether so I did and man those doors are heavy so I threw it into the dumpster at my mom’s apartment.
So then I had no driver’s door and it took a month or whatever to find an old 1965 Chrysler two-door door and then another week or two to get it painted and then on so yeah it was off for two months. It was easy to get in and out of the car but a little awkward at stoplights and more than a few times people would look over at me at stop lights with very confused looks.
Not filming these peoples’ reactions might be one of only two regrets I still carry.
Most of the time driving with no door was fine and some people really liked it like guys in VW busses especially thought I was cool and gave me “fight the power” fist pumps but there was a cop in my town who didn’t think it was cool and so he stopped me a couple times but he never had proof you had to have a door to drive around so I asked my friend who’s mom worked at the DMV to get me a copy of the vehicle code book and yeah there’s nowhere in there says you have to have a door to drive so I kept that book with me and the next time that cop saw me driving through town he made a beeline for me and stopped me and I handed him the book and said show me and he threw it back in my lap and said just don’t drive through my town anymore so then I started taking the freeway.
And then it was November and it started raining.
So that part sucked.