A Bum Rap

“The mechanic called about your car,” Martin announced. “Your axle’s bent.”

Lately, the Toyota’s required moderate repairs.

“Ok, whatever,” I said.

“Jo, the axle’s bent.”

“I heard you.”

“And you know the great thing about this? The mechanic thinks that I did it. He wanted an explanation — from me!”

“Maybe you did do it,” I said.

“I barely drive that car.”

“Maybe my mom did it.”

“Jo, I’ve seen you drive. You’re a maniac.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

But I knew what Martin was thinking.

A few years back, I wreck one car in Romania — one lousy rental — and I’m responsible for every hiccup in our fleet.

And Romania wasn’t my fault.

We rented the car in Hungary but were deep in Transylvania when Martin asked me to pull over in a field so he could pee. We hadn’t seen pavement in hours and were progressing slowly, swerving potholes and horse-drawn carts, while avoiding head-on collisions.

Rush hour

Passing opportunities were rare. I’d just squeezed past a priest, pottering along. Squinting I spied his car’s approach, a dusty tail swishing behind.

“Come on, come on,” I said impatiently.

I wasn’t letting this priest cripple our journey for countless kilometers. The straight stretch would soon turn to ribbon. We needed to cut across the the field and pick up the road. Cut him off.

 So, it wasn’t my fault.

It wasn’t my fault that our hunk of rented junk couldn’t clear the roadside ditch. I thought that if I floored it, we’d sail over the gap.

Dukes of Hazzard style.

Instead the car’s nose rammed the ditch. Our heads kissed the roof.  The steering fought me until the wheels found the road ruts.

Martin stared at me, his mouth open in astonishment. I looked ahead.

But the car didn’t sound good. It was sort of… moaning, and sluggish. I pulled back into the field.

Beep, beep! The priest waved merrily out the window as he passed.

Apparently, the front of our car crumpled against the tires. Thanks to Martin, a crowbar and the car’s cheapo design, Martin pried the tires free.

But the car bore a boxer’s broken nose. And I learned my lessons.

Don’t ever rent a car in Hungary.

Don’t screw with God.

And tell Martin to hold it.

Happier times for our Hungarian rental

Okay, I’ll admit to one footnote on an otherwise stellar driving record. But I haven’t the foggiest clue what happened to my car’s axle.

And I don’t know what happened to the blade on the lawn mower.

But it’s bent, too.