The day started like any other. My wife had given me a list of groceries to pick up and I was running short on time. I still had to go shopping for beach clothes as we were preparing for an extended weekend at Sea Ranch with my family. My parents had rented a house on the ocean and Jordan and I were planning on cooking her famous vegetarian chili for dinner one night. I had my list in my pocket and I was out the door like a man on a mission.
It was a hot summer day. Memorial Day weekend was quickly approaching and it was shaping up to be a warm one. Sitting in front of the house I could actually see heat waves coming off the Civic's roof. The thought of sitting in that car waiting for the air conditioner to cool it down was very unappealing, so I backed my little yellow SRT - 4 out of the garage. I originally intended to drive down the freeway a bit to shop at the Safeway on Alpine. Safeway is never overcrowded and there is enough parking for everybody. I generally park far away from the main entrance and on a high spot in the lot. This keeps rogue shopping carts from coasting into the car and leaving me with a door ding. Not many people choose their supermarket by the number and width of its parking spaces ... yea I'm weird.
Unfortunately I was in a hurry and the closest supermarket was the Food - for - Less in Weston Ranch. The FFL is so close, the car hardly has a chance to reach operating temperature; and their prices are so low, I figured I might save a few bucks. However, the parking lot is a lot like I imagine the wild west was, minus the gun fights and cool Stetson hats. There are shopping carts flying around as if they were possessed, shoppers opening their doors into adjacent car doors and nobody is paying any attention to the road signs or white painted lines on the ground.
I pulled into the parking lot on a far end that is all but ignored by everyone else because it is far from the stores front doors. I parked to the side of FFL near where the employees break down cardboard boxes for disposal. I realized that it was going to be a long walk to the front doors and that filled me with joy ... nobody was going to park next to me. As I left the store and began my long walk to the car, I was in a good mood. I finished my shopping in record time. As I approached my car, all was well. There wasn't a soul in sight and my yellow SRT was untouched.
Leaving the parking lot was not as safe as pulling in. Leaving the same way was not an option. I shrugged my shoulders and thought, "What could possibly go wrong?" Driving as carefully as I could down the narrow parking lot corridor, I noticed a black truck making a slow and clumsy right turn in front of me. " He is running wide and looking the other way," I thought and in a panic I unsuccessfully searched for the horn.
Crunch! The driver of the truck looked up to see my face turning red like a thermometer about to pop ... yea I was heating up. I swung open my door as he reversed and backed his truck away from my SRT. He had a puzzled look on his face which only made me angrier. I asked him as calmly as I possibly could if he would pull into one of the empty parking stalls near the collision. He agreed and I began to copy his information. When I finished writing, I made a call to see if Jordan was home from work. Lucky for me she was. I asked her to grab her camera and head over to the parking lot to take some photos. When Jordan arrived She decided to call the insurance company and file a claim while I took photos of both cars and the scene.
When the smoke cleared and I spoke to my insurance claims representative, he had some bad news. The guy in the black truck claimed that I was driving on the wrong side of the road and struck him. I laughed and volunteered to email my photos to help prove my case. The insurance rep was pleased. After a couple of days of thought and faced with all of my photos, the other driver changed his story and accepted full liability for the accident.
My SRT - 4 is currently in one million pieces and in the care of a paint shop in Stockton. I have seen their work and am confident my little yellow Skittle will emerge perfect. There is something else I feel is worth mentioning, I was given a rental car free of charge and I was allowed a midsize car. After looking over the Toyota Camry and Chevy Refrigerator, I spied a small...well tiny red car on the far side of the lot. As I approached the little Fiat 500, I let out a disturbingly feminine squeal, my wife was not amused. I could care less that I looked like a Justin Beeber fan confronted by the bowl-cut, little tween, as I pointed and giggled.
Many lessons are to be had from today's blog..... Stay out of the FFL parking lot, always keep your cool under pressure, a picture is worth a thousand words are but a few. But, the biggest lesson here is never go for the conventional, when unconventional can be so much more fun. I am talking about choosing the one, the only, the undisputed king of tiny compact cars...the Fiat 500. Stay tuned, next week to get my full review.