August 24, 2007

Re: That time when I almost set my car on fire…AGAIN

Please, no comments on how big of an idiot I am; believe me, I KNOW. And, as embarrassed as I am to post this, I feel obligated to share that you may laugh because the guy in car next to me certainly was.

3:30pm Thursday afternoon: I work for a computer IT company and though the opportunities to do so are few and far between, I occasionally have to go onsite and assist customers. I was returning to the office after one such instance and got caught in traffic. This was back-to-school traffic in a neighborhood, so we weren’t moving. At all.

I decided to light a cigarette (I know, I know…bad for you, kill you, all that jazz…) because traffic just does that to me. I sat there, unmoving, and finished the whole thing. Just as I went to toss it out the window (b/c I am so environmentally conscious like that…whatev, I recycle) we started moving. I flicked it out, but I guess the sudden movement caused a tiny gust of wind to catch it and blow it back into my car BETWEEN ME AND MY SEAT. I didn’t notice until I felt my back being burned at which point I slammed on my brakes, almost certainly giving the occupants of the car behind me severe whiplash from the sudden stop from 6mph to 0, and arched my back like I was trying to give myself a mammogram with my steering wheel.

The burning stopped, but then the burning SMELL happened. What do I do? Reach down behind my butt, where the still unidentified offending object had fallen and grab it between 2 fingers, which I promptly burned. I am still at a complete stop (by this point someone was honking) with at least 10 car lengths between me and the SUV in front of me, writhing around in my car, trying to figure out WHAT THE HELL IS BURNING ME. I reached down again and grabbed it, felt the familiar smoosh of the filter end of the cigarette, and threw it the hell out of my window. Only then did I realize that the car right next to me hadn’t moved either, completely paralyzed with amazement at my dramatic reaction to a cigarette butt. He saw me hurl the little f’er out of my car and then started laughing hysterically.

I thought about lighting another one, right there, and throwing it into HIS open window and seeing how gracefully he dealt with that. Ass.

I now have a little patch of melted fabric in the crack of my driver’s seat. And my car smells a little like burnt hair.

I suppose you can say I deserve it, for smoking in my car or just for smoking, period. However, I would appreciate it if next time I do something ridiculously brain-dead like that and you can actually see the panic in my eyes, just please wait until you are out of my line of sight before you lose your shit and laugh like it’s the funniest gdamn thing you’ve ever seen. I appreciate that it might be, but for me, it was a bit traumatic.

The FIRST time I set my car on fire it wasn’t an almost situation. And I was being a Good Samaritan (not a cigarette-smoking floozy) and helping a friend out. Turns out, we were both idiots and didn’t know how to jump-start a car, which is excusable for me being a tiny, frail girl and all, but this was a guy friend I was helping…this is shit men just know, right? Um, wrong.

He was a co-worker at the time, and had been a good friend through college, so I should have known mechanical stuff wasn’t his forte. However, he was really good with computers, so I guess I just assumed there wasn’t much of a difference.

My mistake.

His car died on the roof of our office parking garage due to a dome light being on all day and he asked me for a jump. He borrowed what can only be described as jumper cables for Barbie’s Dream Corvette, from another totally macho friend. They were the smallest jumper cables I have ever seen in my whole life. We positioned our cars next to each other so that the cables would reach, which basically meant I parked my car IN HIS ENGINE, and set about connecting the cars.

I was driving Ralph, my old 1990 baby blue BMW, and the battery was a bit corroded (which I later found out is a BAD THING). He kept looking from his battery to mine, saying things like, “negative to negative, or negative to positive?” This is when I offered to call AAA. He said nah, I got this, and kept looking from car to car.

Finally, he hooked them onto my battery, shrugged his shoulders, and told me to start my car. I offered to call AAA again and was again turned down. I got into my car, turned it on, he cranked his engine, and…nothing. He yelled out his window that I should try again. I did, he did…still nothing.

All of a sudden, I noticed the cables were smoking. He jumped out of his truck and yelled “HOLY SHIT THE CABLES ARE SMOKING!” Thanks. I stand there, staring, not having a freaking clue as to what I should be doing in a situation like this, and then BAM! They catch FIRE. FIRE. I have a FIRE on the engine of my car!

What does he do? What any logical person would do—starts beating it out with his HAT. Yeah. I know. Not that I can say anything though…I am still standing, staring, mouth on the mother f’ing ground because I cannot believe this is happening right now, here, on the parking garage roof at our office building. He yells at me to find some water (yeah, I know…electrical fire, water…sigh) so I bolt to the backseat of my car because I ALWAYS have 1 or 2 or 17 half-empty bottles of water back there. Thank GOD I couldn’t find any that morning.

I return to the front of the car with nothing so he continues beating the fire out. It worked, surprisingly enough. There is smoke EVERYWHERE, I have jumper cables melted to my battery, and there are burned pieces of plastic dripping onto the concrete below my car. I start laughing, hysterically. It was either that or cry hysterically, and I never ever, even if you pay me, cry in public.

I then called AAA.

Who got to our office building in 5 minutes.

And jumped his car.

And set nothing on fire.

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