The Fiesta Fiasco

Since both our teens are driving now, we've had loads of discussions regarding safe driving behavior, proper car maintenance, driving routes, etc. As parents, we've naturally built up years of driving-related experience we willingly share with our kids. (Whether they want to hear it or not!) All this chit-chat caused an automotive-related flashback to a lesson I learned the hard way during my college days…

(Imagine watery flashback visuals here)

It was summer in the mid-1980s. Feeling the thrill of victory, I circled a classified ad with my highlighter: Ford Fiesta. Good condition. Manual transmission. $1800 FIRM.

I’d been searching for a car for months. Learning the owner lived in a nearby city, I went in search of my younger brother.

“Dude!” I said excitedly, finding him busy as usual with one of his electronic gadgets.

“Yeah,” he replied, distracted.

“I need your help.”

“What for?”

“I think I found a car!” Sudden interest sparked his brown eyes. “Since I don’t know anything about cars, can you come check it out with me?”

“Sure!”

We met the owner, and I listened intently to his description of the positive attributes of the little car while my brother checked under the hood and inspected the tires.

“Want to take it for a test drive?” the owner asked.

Being “directionally challenged,” and uncomfortable in this unfamiliar territory, I begged my brother to test drive it for me. He did. Afterwards he told me the car handled great and seemed a good deal.

We returned the next day and I bought it with every penny I had saved.

“O’ darling brother of mine," I said, turning to him. "Would you mind driving it home? These streets are confusing and I want to get used to driving it around our house first.”

“Okay!” he replied, clearly excited to have a new toy to play with.

Once we got home he parked it, handing me the keys.

I was SO excited! I slipped behind the wheel, put the key in the ignition and stretched out my foot to depress the clutch. And stretched…and stretched. My body was inclined at a 45-degree angle when my foot finally made contact. “Hey bro, the seat isn't adjusted forward,” I said yanking at the lever.

“Uh, yeah it is, Hol’.” He looked concerned.

He was right. The seat wouldn’t budge. I’m only five-feet tall and it had never occurred to me I might not be able to reach the pedals. I sat stunned as the reality of my situation hit me.

Oh. My. Gosh! I had just bought a car I couldn’t drive!

I began to hyperventilate. “W-w-what a s-s-stupid thing to do! Why didn’t I t-t-test drive it? What am I going to doooooo!”

He patted me consolingly for a few minutes, then said, “I’ve got an idea.”

Getting behind the driver’s seat, he raised up both of his legs and began ramming his feet against the back of my seat.

“W-what are y-y-you d-d-doing?” I hiccupped, jiggling with each impact. He continued the relentless pounding as my seat slowly inched forward until it was permanently jammed further than it was ever meant to go. My foot hit the clutch.

“You did it!” I screamed, leaping up and tackling him with a hug. “I can reach, I can reach!

I hopped back in and started the engine. Never mind that the seat was probably totally illegal now. Never mind that now only a five-foot-tall person could drive it. Never mind that it was the hideous color of a lima bean. It was my car—and now I could drive it!

I rolled down my window and grinned at him. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he grinned back, then walked whistling into the house.

I flicked on the radio. Katrina and the Wave’s “Walkin’ On Sunshine,” blasted from the speakers as I backed out of the driveway and took off down the road.

The end.

Oops! Oh yeah…. lesson learned: Don't ever be too afraid to take your own test drives in life. And always wait till you're over 40 years old to share these types of stories where you parents can read them. Heh, heh.

 
 
Ford Fiesta Image by: Jonathan

15 comments:

Heidi Willis said...

This is the best blog post I've read in ages!! Hilarious! And you have an amazing brother! I want one just like him!

Reminds me of all the cars the boys I knew in college owned. I dented the door of one when I shut it with my hip. I was about 99 lbs at the time, so i refuse to be embarrassed by that. :)

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Thanks, Heidi--my brother is pretty amazing! :o)

And I can't believe you were able to dent a car door with your hip! Ha, ha!!

FreshGreenKim said...

I knew we were soul sistahs! I had a Fiesta, we called him Fester! 1978 model, bright yellow with black stripes, 140K miles, manual transmission. Ah yes......... My Fiesta Friend :)

Petula said...

Oh what a story! It reminds me of my first car. A Camero ... and I didn't know how to drive with a manual transmission. A high school friend of mine was teaching me when he had to ship out to Germany. LOL... I eventually learned.

I giggled at your last comment because I relish the three or so years after I moved out of my mom's house when every time I visited I shared something I'd done that she didn't know about.

Great writing! Thanks for the chuckles.

Petula said...

Oh what a story! It reminds me of my first car. A Camero ... and I didn't know how to drive with a manual transmission. A high school friend of mine was teaching me when he had to ship out to Germany. LOL... I eventually learned.

I giggled at your last comment because I relish the three or so years after I moved out of my mom's house when every time I visited I shared something I'd done that she didn't know about.

Great writing! Thanks for the chuckles.

Dad said...

OMG Holly,
And to think we never knew!! Glad Mark was there to help, otherwise you would have been using a non-motorized scooter!

Tam said...

This is such a classic story! I'm going to have Katrina and the Waves in my head the rest of the night, thanks!

Stephanie Faris said...

I was sitting here thinking up other solutions -- a phone book to sit on, some kind of pedal extender. His idea was better than all that! Yeah, I'd have to at least drive it around the block once to see if I liked it...but when I was a teenager I might not have.

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Believe me, my frantic brain went through many attempted solutions, Stephanie! Unfortunately, pillows and phone books weren't quite enough back then. I'm SO glad seats are much more adjustable now. Our teens don't know how great they've got it, today! Ha,ha!

Nancy said...

That is such a cute story. Being only 5'2", I can relate. I need to drive with a pillow to fill in the deep wedge between the car and my body. I'm glad everything worked out well in the end.

Melissa Romo said...

I love that your Dad left a comment. That's awesome! Your story reminded me of when my father took me to buy a car. The pushy salesman asked for our phone number and my dad gave him the wrong one. Of course, I piped up: "Dad, that's not our phone number!" Bad.

Ivy said...

Oh what a story!! Love it!! My big brother's first car was a VW bug that my dad restored. My brother was too geek to help him, so he opted for paying him to do the restoring job. That's right, my geek brother is cheap too. Instead of buying a ready-to-drive car, he talked dad into restoring one so they could spend quality time together... Just to turn around and conveniently be busy and paid him for the parts. My dad, being the business man he is, upped the price on him a bit for his troubles. Then he painted it grass green with white doors. My poor brother was picked on to no end, regardless I was so sad when he sold it! I offered to help dad paint it and decorate it (it was a VW ug), but my brother sold it before I got my license.

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Awww, what a great story, Ivy! I love the paint job. Ha, ha!

I really think all this stuff, driving cars with funky paint jobs, duct tape, etc.--it all builds character!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh my gosh! Your brother is THE best! So calm and able to think quickly. :-)

TeresaR said...

Too funny!! My first car wasn't until after I got married and dh and I bought one together. :)