Colliding with Wisdom, Part I - Guest Post By Burrill Strong

I recently made the final payment on my car loan. If you've ever paid off a car loan, you know making that final payment provides a sense of relief much like that of having a bear trap removed from your ankle after you spent five and a half years sending piles of money to the bear trap every month.

This occasion is notable for another reason: I’ve now gone five and a half years without staging my own impromptu demolition derby on the roads of Michigan. Prior to this magical stretch, my driving record wasn't just checkered; it was completely charred. I once even had my license suspended because the guy at the Secretary of State thought my Euphemism-Americanness was affecting my driving. A doctor decided otherwise, so I got back on the road.

Of course, unpleasant circumstances can provide valuable lessons. To celebrate both the end of my car loan and the continued drivability of my current vehicle, I’ve compiled a few important lessons my accidents taught me.

Don’t cry over spilled milk
If you’re going to cry over something, cry over that $120 ticket you just got for running into another car.

My first accident was the direct result of my taking my eyes off the road to tend to the beverage that had just tipped over, a problem that occurred because my first car didn’t have cupholders. Yes, that beverage was milk. And no, nothing in this paragraph is a joke. I would never joke about a tragic lack of cupholders.

The good news: the milk didn’t spill.

(The accident’s only noticeable lasting effect on my car was the partial license plate of my victim’s car engraved into the front of my car. That’s also not a joke. So...pretty much my entire first accident was a joke that wasn’t a joke. Ha...ha?)

See the broken-down car, be the broken-down car
If you find that broken-down car on the highway too interesting, you might join it.

I was driving on the interstate when, on the other side of the highway, I saw an eye-catching broken-down car on the other side of the highway. Since I’m not a lizard with two independent eyes, I didn't see traffic slowing down in front of me. Oops. But hey, if they didn't want them to be bumped, they wouldn’t call them bumpers, right?

Oh, and that vehicle I was driving wasn’t my car. It was my parents' minivan.

If you work hard enough, you can find a positive
Even if you have to use your imagination.

My first car met its sad demise when I ran a stop sign, causing a collision with an SUV.

The good news: it was a residential street, so it was a low-speed collision.
The bad news: the SUV hit me square in the driver-side door, bringing the door several inches closer to me.
The worse news: the impact also knocked loose a brake line. In other words, it broke my brakes. Them’s the breaks, eh?
The worser news: remember the lack of cupholders? Well, the impact also toppled a large Quizno’s cup full of Coke, soaking the front passenger seat.
The even worser news: my Bible was on the front passenger seat. I guess that made it the High Fructose Gospel.
The worsest news: the man who hit me was an angry Indian man driving his brand new, fresh-off-the-dealer-lot Buick SUV with a temporary paper license plate. I’m fairly certain he was actually driving it home from the dealer. Talk about swift depreciation!
The most worstest news: The angry Indian man didn’t have a cell phone, so he angrily asked to angrily use mine. Angrily.

When my car came to a stop, I realized I’d never again be opening my car door. Ever. When the angry Indian man approached, I also realized the drastically altered shape of my car door meant I’d never again be rolling down my window more than a couple inches. Ever. Ever ever. This led to the lone bright spot of the afternoon: to exit the vehicle, I popped out the sunroof and climbed out the top of the car like the star of some hip 1970s tv show. I felt so cool.

Well...I felt as cool as one can feel when he’s climbing out of the car he just wrecked because he ran a stop sign.

I'll never ride with Burrill. Would you?