Dad’s Little Red Car
Dad had a little red Fiat. Fiats are notorious for being little cars. If you think about it, have you ever seen one all grown up? Yeah me either. I remember he had this car for many years and It certainly seen many miles of this country. This is also the same car which was the instrument of my near death at the ripe old age of seven. Let me digress from my story by retelling this little snippet of my life. (Hrmmm, now that I think about it, from ages six to nine, I was a pretty persnickety child. But I digress from the digression. Haha, now THAT is talent!) Car…death…seven…ok. I used to spend time with Daddy by playing nearby and bombarding him with questions about what he was doing while working on the cars. He fiddled around with them a lot. I believe he was good at it because I don’t have a recollection of taking a car to a shop for repair when I was a kid.
One sunny afternoon, Daddy was working on something kn the interior of the car. This was different than sticking your face under the hood or sliding on a box under the car with your back. Curious, I hopped into the passenger side of the car and started berating him with questions. (After I gave birth to our daughter, he told me it helped him figure out tough fixes sometimes. 🙂 ) This conversation is very clear to me because it was the day I received my education about the meaning of the letters next to the gear shift. Park, drive, neutral, reverse, one, two. Got it. Daddy warned me to never mess with the gear shift; even when the car was off because it could roll away. Ok. Got it.
Remember I told you I was seven? Remember I said I was curious? Remember I was persnickety? Yea. One could say I was an “amazing child.” Keep this in mind as I lay out the scene…
We lived in a Seattle neighborhood in the community of White Center. We didn’t have a traditional driveway. Instead, we had a gravel/dirt area that ran along the street at the front of the house. Sort of like a parking lot, you would just pull onto the dirt and park the car. There was a wooden fence that divided the parking area from the front yard. Our house was two upper stories that could be seen from the street. There was a slight opening that went from the street to the house. What you could NOT see from the street was a sheer drop to the back yard. If you were to look at the house from the alley, it would be a three-story house as there was a full apartment in the basement. There was a wall on each side of the house which had stairs leading up to the front yard.
Back to the front yard. Looking from the street, Daddy parked his Fiat on the right side, perfectly in between two bushes that were on peering over the fence from the front yard. This means there was nothing but grass and open space to the wall that dropped to the back yard. Note seven year old Micaa playing nearby. (Ya that’s me.)
I decided to hop into the drivers side of the car and pretend to drive. After about ten minutes, I looked down at the gear shift. Surely the car wont move while it is off. Daddy just told me that so I would not mess with it whole he was working on it. I reached out and pushed the button and pulled the gear shift back. It stopped in neutral. What happened next seemed like five minutes but it was more like five seconds.
The car began to roll. It crashed through the fence. Just flat ran it over like knocking over a domino. It quickly rolled across the yard toward the wall leading to the back yard. At first I panicked. I just watched the crab apple bush get bigger as I rolled toward it faster and faster. I snapped back into reality, looked down, and popped the gear shift into park. The Fiat came to a jarring halt. The wheels inches from the edge of the wall. The fiat was a millisecond from dropping 12 feet into the back yard with a seven year old driver.
Whew! I got out of the car, looked around, making sure no one seen me and went to my room to play. Later, when asked it I knew what happened, I pretended I didn’t know. The car was put back and the fence taken away. (Breathe!!! Mini digression over. But yea, not so mini.)
Dad had this Fiat for many years. When he could not fix it anymore, he traded it in for something else. It was still in “driveable” condition. He drove up to the lot and swapped cars. A few days later, the owner of the car lot angrily called the house and gave my mother what for. Now Daddy is a smart man. He told my mother not to worry about it. He went on to tell her that “I proved to hom tha Fiat was driveable. He never asked me if the bottom was going to fall out of it 45 minutes after I left the lot. Its his problem now. The papers say as-is, Pat.” He then flashed that smile and did that Douglas giggle only a Barrett can do.
That was the end of the Fiat.
What do YOU think?