Being at home for the holidays and spending time with my high-school age sisters has made me introspective about my high school experience. Here was one of my high-school defining moments.
We lived out in the Colorado country, about 20 minutes away from civilization, so our driveway was a quarter mile long, unpaved, and a bitch to shovel when it snowed. After a rare Colorado rain, the sandy topsoil had turned into a thick slimy sludge about 2 inches deep. Even in 4 wheel drive, my vehicle was no match for reckless speeding.
The first thing I heard was the change on the dashboard clatter against the passenger side window, and an enormous THUMP as the car landed on its side. I glanced at my brother in the passenger seat — he was OK. I unbuckled my seat belt and flopped to the ground beside him. Limbs still attached, no cuts or blood, phew. We exited the vehicle and walked the remaining 8th of a mile to our house.
As we walked, we constantly glanced over our shoulders at the receding 1997 Jeep Wrangler and pondered what to do.
The first person I called was my then girlfriend, and the first thing she asked was if we were OK. My high school-lacking-empathy-self condescendingly explained that I would be on the phone with 911 right now if we weren’t ok… Then she asked if my parents knew.
Now, even in high school I would consider myself an honest person… but that didn’t stop me from scrambling for some solution that didn’t involve me telling my parents what happened. Unfortunately for me, the evidence couldn’t be hidden. We even tried to push the car back over, but it was not going to happen. I didn’t have a choice but to come clean.
I was a good kid in high school, so this situation was very foreign to me.
I called my mom and she wasn’t happy that our car was on its side, but that was tempered by the fact that we were both OK. Fortunately my dad felt the same way. I was lucky that I had built up enough trust with my parents that they didn’t even punish me for what happened — I knew that what I did was wrong and I wasn’t going to do it again.
We eventually attached a tow rope to our other car and pulled the Jeep back to an upright position. We were lucky in that Simon and I were both OK, and that there was literally no damage to the car. The side mirror had been smashed into the window, but neither were broken.
I learned 3 important lessons from this event:
- ALWAYS wear a seat belt. Seriously. Always.
- Jeeps, though top heavy, are awesome.
- Honesty is like a band aid — it hurts in the moment to rip it off, but your trust bank will recover faster.