About three weeks ago I got rear-ended in Montrose. 

If you happen to live in the Houston area, that line kills.

My bent-up bumper. Putting this in a dramatic frame makes it feel more like a war-related accident.Anyway, it was a minor fender-bender. I had a sprained wrist and some damage to my truck’s back bumper that was small enough that some people told me I should just take the insurance money and run. But when I bought this truck I kept babbling over and over, “I’m going to drive it until it’s vintage, I’m going to drive it until it’s vintage.” Because, frankly, I never know when a joke stops being funny.

I put my truck in for repairs, and in just two days I had it back again, good as new. Better than before the accident, actually, because not too long after I first bought it I backed into a loading dock and put a quarter-sized ding in her bumper. So now my sins were covered by fine, white snow. All was well.

Then Sunday happened.

I should learn to listen to my instincts, because something was telling me to stay home and mow the yard yet again. “The grass … it GROWS!” screamed the withered, ancient old man that for some reason is my inner voice. But after a week of sweating in my yard I was ready for some R&R, so I loaded my bike into the back of my truck so I could go sweat on a park trail for some reason.

I live in a neighborhood that is separated from civilization by a long stretch of road that, after a while, makes you wonder, “Holy crap, did I take a wrong turn? Is that a cornfield up ahead?” But at the end of that road is Highway 6. And Highway 6 is where EVERYONE LOSES THEIR MIND. Driving becomes a contact sport, and the natives communicate primarily through a form of one-finger sign language and elaborate car honking. Venture forth at your peril.

I had the light, so I stopped. When the light changed, I started moving, and then two cars full of teenagers came whipping around in an illegal U-turn against the light. They were bait, but I wasn’t falling for it. I stopped, let the teenagers have their precious “life moment,” and started moving again. And that was when the back of my truck viciously attacked the BMW behind me.

That’s the way I’m going to see it from now on, because I have to believe that my enormous truck would be hard to miss, and must therefore be some kind of monstrous, bad-ass, reverse attack truck. Because getting rear-ended twice in a row isn’t something that should happen.

Today I took my truck in for the estimate and I was able to drop it off for repair. The guy at the shop is an old buddy now. “Ha ha, repeat business. Ha ha, one more and you get a free slushy.” And that’s when I stabbed him. Because I can have a sense of humor about getting rear-ended twice in one month, but DO NOT screw with me about free slushies. 

They’ve put me in a tiny, silver Mazda (which I promptly lost in the parking lot of Barnes & Noble). And that pretty much brings me full circle, since the first car I ever bought was a silver Mazda Protege. That information did not impress the Enterprise guy. “Yeah, I had one of those, too,” he said.

“Did yours also come cheap because of all the hail damage?” I asked, excited.

“Uh, no. I didn’t have any hail damage. It was perfect.”

“Yeah, perfectly dented, am I right? High five!” There were no high fives. And no slushies. This was pretty much how Sylvia Plath must have felt. 

The hope is that Tankarella will be back by Friday. “Tankarella,” I’ve decided, is her new official name. Because anyone who can be rear-ended twice in one month and suffer only minor bumper damage deserves some kind of tough-sounding name. And that’s the closest I’ve come up with.


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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