Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What's the Stupidest Thing I've Ever Done?

So I was heading home from downtown this weekend, driving the speed limit in the right lane going up 35th Avenue, when I noticed a brown flash in the rear view mirror. The car behind me seemed to come from out of nowhere. He sped up close to me and then pulled into the left lane at the last second. As he did so, he fishtailed, lost control, and accelerated across the street, over the curb, and into a retaining wall. Boom! At least one of his tires popped, his grill was smashed, and his air bag deployed. Then the guy put the car in reverse and started driving in the other direction.

I can't get this accident out of my head. Why? Why did he zoom up to me and swerve at the last second? The left lane was wide open. Was he intentionally trying to be reckless? Was he angry? Drunk? Programming his iPhone? And why did he accelerate after losing control? Was he trying to swing the rear end around like in the movies? Was the gas pedal stuck?

Here's the closest thing I could find to the incident on YouTube. You may want to mute your computer so you don't have to listen to the irritating narrator:

I'm fascinated by wildly impulsive acts, no doubt because I am rarely impulsive. I'm also fascinated by people who do those wildly stupid acts, like the Jackass guys or the Bush administration. So what's the dumbest thing I've ever done in a car? Let's see . . . I've driven drunk in a hotel parking lot with a buddy on the roof of the car, and I hit the brakes so that he rolled down onto the hood. That's just good clean American fun. What else? . . . I drove 115 mph in a station wagon with 7 other teenagers in the car. But I wasn't drunk or reckless, unless you consider driving 115 mph reckless. But I wasn't taking turns at high speed or weaving through traffic. That's about it for cars.

But what's the single stupidest act I've ever committed?

The first time I went scuba diving was in Laguna Beach at night with choppy water and low visibility. That's stupid, but I'm kind of proud of doing it, so it doesn't count. I'm looking for something embarrassingly stupid, like crashing into a retaining wall for no reason. Here's a better one -- after reading C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, I was inspired to have unprotected sex with my ex-girlfriend . . . Oh, speaking of religion, here's an even better one. While serving a mission, I once prayed aloud for something bad to happen to a Peruvian family that backed out of being baptized, causing my companion to laugh out loud and interrupt my prayer . . . Ding! Ding! I think we have a winner.


  1. AnonymousJuly 10, 2007

    It may be the stupidest, but it's also one of the funniest. Gotta love that inner Mormon logic.

  2. AnonymousJuly 11, 2007

    The stupidest thing I've ever done in a car happened in the summer of 1986.

    I got my driver's license a couple of months before our big Layne Family Reunion in Montana. For some reason (complex; not interesting) our family ended up in Montana with two cars. My dad said that I could drive the 1976 Pacer X home. From Montana...to Utah...when I was 16. So my little six-year-old sister and I are in the car, tunes blasting, when we enter the spaghetti confusion of Salt Lake City...

    I don't know how the interstates work there any more, but there used to be this spot where a bunch of big freeways met - I-5, 215, I-80, I think...I can't remember now. Anyway, I didn't know which route to take and was totally freaking out. At the last possible moment, I chose I-80 and yanked the wheel hard to the left to catch the exit. The car went up on two wheels. Everything was in ultra-slow-motion. I remember turning my head to the right and catching the eye of the woman in the car to our right (who was going straight on I-5). We locked eyes for what seemed like an eternity as the little Pacer screeched and wobbled, tilted to one side like Herbie the Love Bug.

    Bam! We came down on all four wheels and I somehow managed to straighten up and make the exit.

    Now we were heading up a big canyon and I knew I'd made a huge mistake. I started seeing signs for Cheyenne, Wyoming and totally panicked. We passed a merge ramp on the right and I pulled over, stopped, TURNED THE CAR AROUND, and drive backward up the merge ramp to get headed in the right direction.

    I don't know how I did it, but I found my way back to I-5 south. My sister and I, white faced and shaking, looked at each other and pinky-swore never to tell mom and dad what had happened. She turned on the radio and Cool and the Gang's "Celebrate" was on. She cranked it and we sang along as loud as we could.

  3. AnonymousJuly 11, 2007

    I have one. I was 21 at this time, and SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. Slap my hand.

    My boyfriend's name was Ben Evans. While driving alone in fairly heavy traffic in an unfamiliar city, I saw a street sign for Evans street. I lurched over to grab my camera and fiddled about to get it out of the case and on so I could take a picture to show my boyfriend. Insane. Anyway, driving with one's knees whilst focusing on a camera's on-button is not wise, especially in traffic, and I ended up careening to the right and slamming into a sidewalk curb, which caused my right front tire to blow out. Miraculously I avoided the other cars, or rather, they avoided me.

    No one was hurt, and some nice man and his kid came by to help me change the tire. After that, I (a) learned to change a tire on my own, and (b) told my dad it must have been a nail.

  4. AnonymousJuly 11, 2007

    Two items. No! Three...

    1) I meant to say I-15.
    2) I neglected to mention that my sister shut off the radio in the midst of all the panicking...which lead us to her turning it back on again once everything was set right. Minor story congruity issue that was bugging me.
    3) I thought that "g" was "glen" and not "gillian." You can imagine how surprising I found that story to be...

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