The Dukes of Hazzard. CHiPs. Hunter. The A-Team. I grew up watching reruns of television shows with fast car chases and spectacular crashes. As a child, I fantasized about speeding through the streets of Los Angeles trying to outwit the cops who just didn't understand my noble cause. Or being a police officer finally cornering that car that was speeding away from a bank robbery. So when I finally got my license, I had 16 years of pent up energy that I just had to let out.
My car was a 1986 Plymouth Reliant. Some people with little respect might call it a "K-Car." It was a deep burgundy, and in the right light, you could hardly see the rust that ate away at its body. Missing two hubcaps and covered in small scratches, it looked as if it had seen many a car chase, or at least a few shopping carts in a grocery store parking lot.
One day while driving around, I encountered a large dip on a secluded dirt road. It was at least a 45 degree incline down, with another 45 degree incline going up on the other side. Living in Michigan, this was a rare site indeed, and it reminded me of the terrain in California where many of my beloved TV shows took place. Upon approaching, I decided to attempt my favorite car chase camera angle of all. This usually consisted of a shot of the hill, and then out of nowhere appeared the vehicle flying overtop, usually airborn. I didn't care that I couldn't see into the dip; I was convinced Mr. T never cared about such things while driving the A-Team van. I pushed the accelerator of my Reliant to the floor, and 20 seconds later I hit 50 MPH.
I flew over the top of the hill, and in my mind I could see the camera shots from all angles, in slow motion, with my theme music playing. Then I saw it. Looking back, I'm glad it wasn't a puppy, a bunny, or a little toddler holding a lollipop. It was only a plastic garbage can. I immediately slammed on the brakes and swerved, the trash can just narrowly escaping a grizzly, plastic crushing death.
But my small victory quickly turned into a greater defeat. The tires of my car struggled to grab the road, but the gravel made this nearly impossible. I went careening full speed into a deep ditch, hitting a bush. (Later when I told the story, the bush became a tree, then an oak tree, then a petrified redwood.) This small bush somehow managed to smash my front end, and push my hood and door back several inches. With this, I was reduced to a mere extra in the TV show, shaking my fist at our hero who managed to outsmart me.
My car was undriveable, and I had no way to get home. I was sitting on the side of the road wondering why I didn't have a CB radio to call for help, when a motorcycle pulled up. A kind old man, who resembled Hannibal Smith of the A-Team, offered me a ride. I gladly accepted, half hoping we'd get caught in some high-speed chase. I quickly dismissed the thought, realizing that it's best to watch these things on TV, and drive safely in real life. Now instead of driving like the A-Team, I drive like the Golden Girls.