I’ve been a writer for many years but now I’m wondering if it’s time for a career change. Already, I’ve had a lot of careers on my way to becoming a writer.
I got the first inkling while driving 1,100 miles to Alabama that I might have a hidden talent I’d never known about.
The talent is my ability to keep driving for hours and hours on end and keep myself entertained. But I was driving in a comfortable car at a brisk pace. I wasn’t sure my driving talent would translate well to being a long-haul truck driver, which seems about as thankless a job as I could imagine. Have you seen some of these highway truck stops? Would you want to steer those massive machines on icy highways? Plus I’d constantly be away from home.
Yet I sensed I was on to something—and it had to do with automobiles.
Then on my first day in Birmingham, with Julia in the car with me, we got rear-ended at a stoplight. More than a thousand miles of driving to get down here and not an incident to be had, but I’m here for a few hours and BASH!
The way cars are built today, the bumpers are single molded pieces of plastic. They rip and tear easily. A huge piece of my bumper was torn off and dangled by a single, pathetic thread. I pulled it off the rest of the way. Underneath looked shockingly bad, like the exposed innards of some gutted animal. I was thinking I’d have to stay down here until the car was repaired, and that could take a couple of weeks.
I got the license and insurance information of the distraught kid who hit me. Yes, kid. Seventeen years old, a new driver. I told him it was all okay, just an accident. No one was badly hurt, although Julia did bump her head and later sat with an ice bag.
We drove back to her apartment. I listened for rattling and scraping, but the car drove fine. The glass covering over the rear light was cracked, but the light worked, the signal worked, the reverse lights worked. The rear camera still worked.
The next day I bought a roll of duct tape (one of my favorite tools), slivery gray to match the paint on my car, and I jammed the broken piece back in place and started taping it down. Honestly, it didn’t look so bad. At least there wasn’t a gaping hole. At a first glance from a distance, you might not even notice the damage.
I did such a good job with the duct tape I started thinking maybe I don’t need to get the car repaired. That, in fact, I’d already repaired it. And that got me thinking I’m pretty good at auto body work, and that maybe this should be my new career. I could do all repair work with duct tape, which comes in so many colors that I’m sure I could match almost any paint shade on any car. I could charge a lot less than expensive repair shops. I could help customers avoid those complicated insurance claims.
In a few days, I’ll be driving the car the 1,100 miles back home. I’ll get the damage professionally repaired as soon as possible, but I hope at the collision shop they at least admire my duct-tape artistry.
More likely, they’ll shake their heads in a knowing way. Then I’ll go back to being a writer.