I have never been a good driver. This is not me fishing for someone to reach out and say “Aw Meg, you’re not that bad,” I’m not asking for this. I know my limits.
My first car was a manual shift VW Jetta, my sister’s old car. It was given to me with the advice “It’s like an arcade game, once you get used to it it’s fun to drive.” Three days learning on that poor machine and I blew the transmission. I was never that good at arcade games.
I feel that it would be unfair to count that Jetta as my official “first car.” After the transmission gave out, I was granted permission to learn and drive to school in what was made very clear to me was “the family car.” It was not “Meg’s car,” it was the family car. Essentially, it was a higher end car and my parents didn’t want what happened to the Jetta happen to this one as well. My friends and I referred to this car as the “Mafia Princess” car, or the MP. It was huge and the windows were almost completely tinted purple. This car made me feel like I was 50 Cent circa 2005 rollin’ around in his Escalade with his posse, the peak of elegance and coolness. And while I felt like a million bucks cruising in this swag wagon, it did nothing to help my driving abilities.
That poor “family” car went through hell. At my high school, seniors had assigned parking spots that they were to park in every day. Mine was directly next to a curb on a difficult angle. So I would try to cut as fast as I could into my parking spot, sometimes with my eyes closed, just praying I didn’t hit any nearby cars, school buses, or students. My younger sister and cousin would sit and just hope against hope that they would make it out alive. I garnered the title of Worst Parker in the Grade after this picture leaked:
That’s my car, in two different parking spots, which you can see from Google Earth. You could see what a bad parker I was from space; aliens wouldn’t even want to get in a car with me. As you can guess, this did not do wonders for my street cred. I don’t think my driving reputation ever really recovered from that picture.
And while that car had assisted in me gaining the reputation of a bad driver, it also gave me one of the craziest, bad-day stories to tell. One particularly rough day, I had already gotten rejected from a college that morning and cried in the MP, so I was ready for the trek home.
While yielding at a roundabout, I saw a woman screaming and banging on the windows of the car she was inside. She rolled out of the car and booked it for the sidewalk. The driver, a man, was clearly shouting but sped off regardless. I peeled off to follow her, causing two near-accidents in my wake. I stopped near her, blocking off another entrance to the roundabout and start shouting to her “Are you alright? Do you want me to call 911 for you?” She didn’t want me to do any of these things. She just wanted to be left alone. I naturally am having a rough time with leaving her, so being the crybaby that I am, start sobbing in front of her. Her day was definitely going worse than mine, but I had just done the most aggressive and adrenaline-induced driving I’d ever done in my short 18 years. She walked away as people started honking at me and I continued sniffling.
The Mafia Princess car survived against all odds until the day of the senior prom. I had already promised my friends I would drive us to the beach after prom ended. Why my friends decided I was the right person to drive us two hours to the beach is unclear to me. I went to start my car that morning and there was a small effort on the MP’s account and then nothing. A dramatic end, in true princess form.
Editor’s note: This story is part of our October 2016 series ‘Hundreds of Words about My First Car’
Meg Stark is a Syracuse University junior currently living and studying in Ireland. She was voted Class Tweeter of her high school graduating class and is desperately trying to hold on to her title. Follow her on twitter @meeginn where she attempts to connect with a younger and hipper crowd.