I live in an apartment building that hasn’t been updated since 1982, which explains why entering the parking garage is about as easy as performing open heart surgery. First, I drive up a miniature Mount Chomolungma, then park my car at a vertical incline within arm’s reach of a pole that sticks crookedly out of the ground, which serves as a pedestal for a rusty old lock that opens the gate. Once that’s accomplished, I turn off my motor, remove the keys from the ignition and insert the perimeter key. After jiggling left and right a few times, the gate screeches open and I turn the car back on, put it in drive and race up the mountain to avoid any smashing or death. Several passengers have responded to this execution with cruel comments like, “that is so stupid and ghetto” and “why don’t you get one of those clip things so you don’t have to turn your car off every time, Rebecca?” You know what? Shut up.
One special November night between Thanksgiving and Christmas, that snuggly time of year when you’re broke after buying 37 gifts, but you’re still smiling because of that whole you get what you give theory, I got a little too close to the pole and murdered my driver’s side mirror. After a violent outburst of cursing and self-hatred, my boyfriend, who had witnessed the whole thing, had a good chuckle at my expense then offered to duct tape it back together until I had it repaired. As it turns out, he did such a bang-up job, that it stayed in place for months, even in rain and possibly hail, according to a voice I heard once. It even held strong up the coast of California, from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Crescent City and all the way back down, without so much as a 3 centimeter droop. No reason for me to fix it really, so I continued to spend my money on beer and outfits.
This week, after a day’s work at my new job, I climbed the five flights of stairs to the roof of the parking structure (because who doesn’t enjoy a 360 of a sprawling city?) to find that the duct tape had finally failed and the mirror was dangling by its wires. Betty, as I affectionately call my dumpster on wheels, looked like she’d been hit by a grenade and left to die in a war trench. I responded to the sight with a long and surly “ahhhhhh maaaaaan” then realized that a 20 minute commute with electrical wires, glass and plastic scrambling in the wind might put myself or others in danger. So I rummaged through the shopping bags, umbrellas and 600 pens that live in my car for no reason, and found the duct tape that had been sitting in the backseat cup holder since the day I started hating myself. Relieved to find a solution, I peeled off a strip of tape, producing that loud sound often heard in unpleasant situation’s like moving or bounding a hostage, then re-taped my bum mirror while fellow entertainment workers looked on in disgust.
So I swallowed a huge lump of stinginess and paid up for a new mirror after acknowledging that I’d been driving around town in a jalopy for no good reason; if I wanted to make the change, I had to BE the change (or however it goes). Now I can safely change lanes and avoid valet parking because I don’t want strangers stealing my last stick of gum, and not because I’m ashamed. Next I’ll replace the front bumper that was backed into by a semi four years ago, since I promptly blew the $500 deductible check in Vegas. Betty, in due time you will no longer appear like a mobile garbage pail, but more like a white 2007 Scion TC that has taken me thousands of miles.