I’m not a car guy particularly, but when one saves your life you have to take notice. Well, and dumb luck; but the car didn’t get in the way.
What happened was, Hertz screwed up and made me stand in line at midnight so by way of compensation, instead of the normal Google econobox (of which I approve) Stall 839 contained a brand-spanking-new shiny white compact crossover SUV. I loathe sports utes in principle and practice but was too tired to go back and demand something smaller.
But then I started to like it right away. It has that nimble lightweight feel that so few cars at any price do, plus tons of room and outstanding visibility. The parking spot in the basement of the Google corporate apartments was cruelly narrow and in an awkward corner, but it slipped right in; a better view of all four corners than anything I’ve driven recently made it easy.
Anyhow, tonight I got off South 101 on the Montague Expressway, which I wouldn’t normally call a particularly dodgy intersection by Bay-Area standards, except for suddenly there was a breakdown blocking the merge lane and some flaming asshole who wouldn’t let me into the next one over. There were people standing beside the breakdown; please, world, don’t do that, some slightly-less-lucky Canadian greybeard than me might mash you to a bloody pulp.
I can’t quite recreate it in my mind. There was death in front and no space behind the asshole who’d sped up to cut me off because of the other asshole who’d dodged in behind him; I had no alternative so I stomped the gas and it downshifted into redline territory instantly and I made two quick hard turns that I’m sure weren’t in the RAV4 design-goal envelope and it screeched angrily but stayed on all four tires and carried me through.
Then I was at my garage and I didn’t notice I was shaking and hyperventilating till I was stopped on the ramp digging in my pockets for the gate-opener. There was a funny smell in the cab and if I shortened that engine’s life, seems like a fair trade-off for preserving mine.
A couple of decades ago I might’ve gloated over my mad driving skillz but I’m smarter now; dumb fucking bad luck got me into a nasty box and dumb fucking good luck got me out again.
Plus a pretty good Toyota.