I've never been the kind of person who is overly worried about making a complete fool of myself in front of people. That's not to say that I don't care if I do, it's just not something I waste my time worrying about (which is amazing for me, because I waste a lot of time worrying about things I have no control over). Which would explain that every time I get into our VW Beetle, Ringo, I manage to make a complete idiot of myself.
Ringo used to be my car, and love him I did. It was by far the newest car I had ever driven. Silas and I took it on road trips and camped out of it. But then we had a baby and it was a giant pain to get the baby and her car seat in and out of the backseat of that car. Also, not a lot of room for baby-related accoutrements in the trunk. So, we got a new car, a gleaming new station wagon, and Ringo became Silas's car. Mainly it just transports him to and from work, because let's face it, I don't know a lot of men who want to tool around town in a green VW Beetle if they don't have to (Silas has to, it's paid for).
Well, Ringo now has about 125,000 miles on him and he's 10 years old. That's not so bad, except he has also proven not to be the most reliable of all cars ever made. I lose track of his little idiosyncracies now since the only time I ever drive him is when I have to work a weekend, which only happens about once a month. Ringo has a few things that make driving a challenge. First of all, the driver's side door is threatening to fall off. When you open it it moves out and then down about 2 inches, so closing it involves lifting it up and then trying to fit it back in place like a puzzle piece. Those doors are not small, so I can't close it from inside the car since I'm sitting down. I don't have enough leverage to lift it up. Also, there is some kind of leak in the fuel system, so whenever you open the gas cap to fill up the tank it loses pressure and has a problem starting and continuing to run for a few minutes after a visit to the pump. I am constantly forgetting about these problems with the car. Which brings me to yesterday.
I had to work at 3 in the afternoon, so I scheduled a hair cut at 1. At 12:30 I make my way out to the garage and open the driver's side door of Ringo, totally forgetting that the door is broken. So, I gingerly lift it back into place, lean all of my weight against it until it closes, then crawl into the driver's seat through the passenger door since I can't close the driver's door from the inside. Remember here that Ringo has a manual transmission. Also I am very short and need to move the driver's seat up very close to the steering wheel. I back out of the garage only to realize two things: 1. The garbage and recycling cans are blocking my way out, and 2. The neighbor from the apartment building across the alley is trying to get my attention. This is going to require me to get out of the car. And then get back in. Through the passenger door. While there are witnesses. Not just random people at the grocery store (that's happened), but the neighbor whom I see on a fairly regular basis. The neighbor tells me what he needs to tell me, I move the garbage cans, then, with my head held high, crawl into my car and drive away.
I manage to get a haircut and get back into the car without anyone watching. On my way to work however, the car beeps, telling me I'm low on fuel. I really don't like stopping on my way home at midnight to get gas, so I decide to stop before work. I pull into the gas station close to the VA, and the place is hopping. I pull up next to the only available pump, which is going to require that I back out before pulling onto the street. As I uncap the gas tank and begin to fuel I realize something. I'm going to have to crawl back into the stupid car through the passenger door with all of these people watching, and then, after they witness me shimmying myself behind the wheel, I'm going to have to start the car with large amounts of gas, then back out, all the while revving the engine to keep the car running. So I stand there, trying not to make eye contact with anyone, even the nice couple at the pump next to me who are driving the same car I have back at home with a working door and ability to start without embarrassing noises and revving engine after getting gas.
I fill the tank. I open the passenger door, crawl over the passenger seat and stick shift, slide myself very ungracefully behind the steering wheel, and put the keys into the ignition. I put my foot on the clutch and try to start the car. It struggles to turn over, I feel people watching. I start giving it large amounts of gas. It coughs to life. I shift into reverse, all the while giving it tons of gas, revving the engine which, to the casual observer, seems completely pointless. At some point I need to shift into first and go forward without stalling the car. I manage to do it, but it requires a lot more engine revving and stares from startled gas station patrons who are wondering why the woman in the green beetle feels the need to show the power of her mighty 4 cylinder, 1.4 liter engine by constantly cranking on the gas. I pull onto the street, and by the time I hit the first stop light the car is able to come to a complete and full stop without stalling even though I am no longer giving it copious amounts of gas. I look around and, of course, no one is there to witness it.