Friday, October 24, 2003

It's been quite a week.

The Friday before I finished the Nameless Nationwide Department Store assignment, I started hearing a strange noise when I applied the brakes in my car... it kind of sounded like rushing wind. I never heard a car make a sound like that before, and I certainly didn't want MY car sounding that way. Mark agreed that the noise was not something that a car should be making, so off it went to the mechanic. For my final two days in Norristown, I drove Mark's car. My mechanic said that my front brakes were "gone", possibly worn down as a result of that wretched commute, and replaced the lining.

I got my own car back just in time to start this new assignment in NJ. The funky rushing noise was gone, but I still was a bit dissatisfied because I felt I had to push the brake pedal WAY too far down before anything happened.

I thought, "I'll try it for a few days and see if it's just something I need to get used to, or if something needs to be adjusted." Mistake. That's the last time I say THAT about brakes! On my way home from work Tuesday, about a mile from the office, I was on the road going toward I-295 when the light turned red. The car in front of me stopped.

I hit my brakes and barely slowed down at all.

After the moment of shocked realization that my car was NOT decelerating, I hit the brake pedal so hard I was practically standing up off the driver's seat. THEN it started slowing down, but not enough. SCREEEEECH... CRUNK, and I connected with the car in front of me. Oh, @)(#$(#@&....

I could see that the rear bumper of the car in front of me was not visibly affected, but my main concern was the driver. She pulled into a nearby parking lot and I followed. I was mortified.

I got out of my car and walked over to hers. She was on a cell phone... I have no idea if she was already on the phone before my car rear-ended hers, or if she made a speed-dial call between then and pulling into the parking lot. I thought she was calling to make an accident report, but no... she wrapped up the conversation with "I gotta go" and hung up.

She got out of the car and was VERY stressed. Who the heck could blame her? I asked if she was all right, and she said "If you knew what kind of day I've had!"

I apologized and said that I had just gotten my car back from having the brakes worked on (which was true). I'm not sure if what I said even registered. She walked back, looked at her car which appeared undamaged, and said "I just want to get on with the rest of my day. The car looks fine".

I said, "Never mind the car, are YOU all right?", but she just got back in the car and drove out of the parking lot. Thank God that neither of us was hurt, although it scared the living heck out of both of us. Her car looked fine, and so did mine (though the front bumper was loose).

Before I left the parking lot, I got my cell phone and speed-dialled my mechanic. "Jimmy, you need to check my car again", and I launched into a description of my misadventure. Mark and I switched cars again on Wednesday morning, so Mark could drop the car off at the mechanic's and take SEPTA to work from there. This time Jimmy bled the brakes and replaced the brake fluid; he also fixed the loose bumper issue. *NOW* the brakes feel normal.

Still, I feel like I should send a thank-you note to the driving school I went to, back when I was in high school. They drummed it into my head to keep a safe following distance, and that's one thing I've always been meticulous about. If there hadn't been a good separation between my car and the one in front, I'd probably have collided with the other car with a lot more force. If that had been the case, there could have been a lot worse to deal with than just some bad nerves on the part of the other driver and me.

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