Monday, January 16, 2006

Houston, We Have a Problem

My 14 year-old niece and I went to Houston this weekend to see my son and daughter-in-law. This was my first road trip to use my XM satellite radio and it worked great even without the antenna being installed on the outside of the car. While we were in Houston, we ate at Floyd’s Cajun Restaurant and at a Mexican restaurant in the Marque Center and both were delicious. I highly recommend the Bloody Mary at Floyd’s.

We also went to Ikea. I had never been to Ikea and loved it even though I got lost like a 5 year-old. Now I know how I’m going to furnish my fantasy waterfront downtown loft (kitchen, bathroom, the works) as soon as Beaumont builds some non-fantasy waterfront lofts.

The most exciting part of the trip was on the way home when I thought I was losing my brakes. Katie and I were driving down NASA Road 1 and, as I approached a stop light at a busy intersection, I began to apply my brakes and nothing happened. I kept pushing until we finally came to an abrupt stop about two feet from the car in front of us.

I didn’t say anything to Katie because I thought maybe it was my imagination. Exactly when is the right moment, I wondered, to alert your passenger that they are in imminent danger of death or, at the very least, a really bad airbag burn? I didn’t want to say anything too soon and freak her out. Plus, I’m really good at denial. Sometimes when the air-conditioning is going out at my house or in my car or if I’m beginning to get sick, I can briefly convince myself that it isn’t happening:

“It’s not hot…it’s not hot…the air-conditioner is working…yeah, it’s cool now…fuck, it’s broken.”

“I’m not getting sick…I’m not getting sick…my throat isn’t getting sore…yeah, I’m fine…fuck, I’m sick.”

“The brakes are fine…my seat is probably just a little further back…this is a new car so there can’t be anything wrong with the brakes…FFFFUUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!

After a couple more stoplights, it became evident that there was a problem. Right when I was about to say something to Katie and pull over to the side of the road to decide my next move, I looked at my dashboard gauges and noticed a warning light. The good news is that there was nothing wrong with my brakes. I had simply been driving for about twenty minutes with my parking brake on. The bad news is I had been driving for about twenty minutes with my parking brake on.

The parking brake lever was barely pulled up, but it was enough to affect the feel of my brake pedal. When it’s pulled all the way up, my car doesn’t move at all. So, hopefully, it wasn’t engaged enough to do any damage to my car. As soon as I lowered the brake all the way, all was well.

That’s when I decided to tell Katie that, a few minutes earlier, I thought there was a distinct possibility that we would ram another car in the ass. She was glad I had kept that to myself.


Lorna said...

Denial always works---at least for a while. I am not finished reading your blog....I am not finished reading your blog.....

Jen T. (that's me) said...

At least when fully engaged it's and emergency *brake* instead of an emergency make-the-car-smell-funny lever. (R.I.P. Mitch Hedberg)

Ed Abbey said...

In my car, horsepower is at such a premium that leaving the parking brake on only slightly is very noticable. In my wife's car however, I have done it many times. Damn horsepower anyway!

Peter said...

That is a really wierd secondary warning system.
"OK she's done it again, left the emergency brake on, we'll show her what an emergency is, we won't let her stop the car safely!!"Are they importing cars from Outer Mongolia now?

Stephanie said...

On a related note, I grew up in Clear Lake City -- it was surreal reading about your trek down Nasa Rd. 1... ::sigh:: Memories!

Laurie said...

Lorna - That's okay. More to come.

Jen - Mitch Hedberg was the greatest.

Ed - I just drive a little ole Corolla. Not much horsepower there but it makes up for it in cuteness.

Peter - It's those tricky Japanese.

Stephanie - You surely wouldn't recognize it. Every time I go through there, it's different.

Dorothy said...

You should have called - you were about ten minutes away from me.

Al said...

Just after I turned 16 - I got a call from my cousin who was completley trashed and needed a lift home - I went and got him. On the way back he thought it would be funny to engage the brake when I was doing 60 on the freeway.
It made the most god-awful sound and I swear I heard pieces of my piece of crap car bouncing off the pavement.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Have you written a "standby" b**g, to be posted in the event you rearend somebody? Something saying, "I'm in the hospital with multiple broken bones, but I'll try to think of something funny about it."

Laurie said...

Dorothy - The only call I was about to make was to 911.

Al - That made me laugh. Sorry. Hahahahah!

Old Horsetail - I need to compose one of those for emergencies.