Car Talk Confessional

From: Steven Peer

I thought I'd never forget that I was pulling a flatbed trailer. But as traveling down an alley, I saw something suspicious.

I stopped the truck, put it into reverse, and sped backwards at about 10 mph until the back of the truck lurched up with a crunching sound. The flatbed had jackknifed right, pushed up against a brick wall, and eventually squeezed itself against my rear rim, taking a large chunk out of it.

If there was a blessing, the brick wall was untouched.

From: Ed Kroll

When my father died about nine years ago this next January, he was buried on one of the coldest days in Michigan history.

That spring, I went up to visit his remote gravesite in a rural graveyard with soil that was all sand under the grass. I was there to level the heaping dirt from the burial ceremony from January. After spreading out the sand mound over the adjacent grassy area a shallow hole remained over his grave. From my trunk I then opened and poured many bags of good organic soil to cover the shallow hole and level it to ground level.

I started walking on the fresh organic soil but could not compact it. About 20 feet away was Dad's large '87 four-door Mercury. Not seeing anybody around, and thinking the weight of the car would flatten and level the fresh soil, I slowly drove over Dad's grave with his car, attempting to compact the fresh soil. The car sunk down almost to the frame. Not wanting to get stuck, I immediately shifted the auto trans into reverse but could not rock the car out.

I tried to rock Dad's car from drive to reverse and back to drive many times but the car remained stuck. Not seeing anyone around, I walked two miles into town for a tow, to have Dad's car towed off of his grave.

I got stuck with my Dad's car on his grave.

From: Jeff Zekas

Back in the early seventies, while attending the University of California, my brother loaned me his VW van. For those who didn't grow up in the 60's, you should know that VW vans were very handy, both for carrying surfboards to the beach, as well as being portable bedrooms-a trait especially necessary when you had six or seven roommates!

Anyway, one night, I was parked behind my apartment, doing the wild thing with my current girlfriend, in the back of the Veedub.

I guess one of the neighbors saw the van rocking, because they called the cops. Santa Barbara's finest responded with three squad cars, tires squealing, lights ablaze, and loudspeakers blaring.

You would have thought there was another major anti-war riot in Isla Vista, or an armed robbery by Branch Davidians, judging by the way they responded... No, they were afraid of a couple of harmless hippies, burning patchouli oil and playing Grateful Dead on the 8-track... but then, I digress.

Luckily, the curtains were drawn over the van's windows. We lay motionless, while the sheriff deputies, pounded on the "wall," yelling obscenities and screaming "WE KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE!!! COME OUT NOW!!!"

My heart was pounding. I had definitely experienced car-i-tus interuptus.

But after what seemed like an eternity, the men in blue left (it was against the law to sleep in your car, but it was also illegal for cops to break-into vehicles).

So, I never made love in a Volkswagen, or any other car, EVER again, after that scary moment.

And whenever a see an old VW van, a mixed feeling of warmth and dread briefly fills my heart.

Listeners take note: when Tom and Ray tell you "Volkswagens aren't safe", they are REALLY REALLY REALLY telling you the truth!!!

From: Max

When I was living in Russia, my car was dirty the whole winter-to the point my hands would get really dirty every time I'd touch the door handles. So I decided to wash it. Big mistake.

Though the guys at manual car wash did everything they could to dry the car after the wash, some water still remained there, and after five minutes of driving home, I found that I couldn't open doors because they were frozen. The windows would not roll down, so I couldn't crawl out of the car and I stayed inside till morning, running the engine to stay warm, but half way through the night I ran out of gas. I used every rug I had to wrap my feet and hands into. Fortunately, no frostbite.

In the morning, I was able to push the door out, not without ripping some paint off the door.

From: Bob

Circa 1957: My brother Jess and I were rough housing as usual one Christmas Eve, at our grandmother's house. Well, my dad had had just about enough of us for one evening and it was about time to go home. He told us to go sit in the car and be good, 'til mom and he were done visiting.

We were in the car with nothing to do. We were cold, so we got out of the car, went into the garage and found some matches, an old coffee can and some gasoline.

We then proceeded to put a small amount of gas into the coffee can and dropped a match in. With the coffee can in hand, we made our way into the car.

Once inside, we sat it on the floorboard and proceeded to watch it burn and we stayed warm.

Before long, we got bored and began rough housing again. My brother's coat accidentally fell against the can and knocked it over.

That's when the fire started.

We got out of the car in lightning speed and neither of us wanted to go in and get Dad to tell him his car was on fire. About that time, the car started moving forward toward the garage. We were told later that the ignition wires had shorted and engaged the starter. It stopped just inside the garage, and then the car caught on fire.

About that time the firemen got there, so we didn't have to tell Dad after all.

We rode home in a cab. Dad didn't say a word all the way home. He got out of the cab-didn't wait for any of us, including Mom. He went into the house, grabbed the Christmas tree, and made another fire in the trash can out back.

I wish now that I was making this up. All the relatives laugh uncontrollably, every time someone brings this story up. Dad never did.

From: Jim

One Christmas, when I was young, I was on my way to a family gathering during a wet snowstorm in upstate NY. My car stalled at a light.

In those days, you could pull the caps off the battery to check the water level. I raised the hood and took off the battery caps. I could not see the water level, because it was dark under the hood, so I took out my lighter to try and put some light down the hole.

In my defense, there was no warning on the battery that it was explosive or not to use matches to warm it up.

Imagine my surprise when the loud explosion blew the top off the battery and acid all over my face and clothes. I quickly used snow to get the acid off my face. I had a hat and scarf and jacket on, so I was not hurt too badly-except I could not hear anything but ringing.

Later, the clothes melted with big holes at the party to which I was towed, thanks to AAA.

The funny part is that after the explosion, my wife rolled down the window and asked, "Should I try to turn it over now? Is it fixed?"

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