(Something I wrote earlier; no Tiger content although
automotive-related, feel free to press Delete now)
Today was a long day. I guess it was about 7:00 AM or so (we're not
allowed wristwatches) when Joe, the technician assigned to us, pulled
Ann and I out of our cabinets. Light! I love the light, after being
consigned to storage in the dark every evening. But I knew what was in
store for us.
After a wipedown (I think Joe take entirely too many liberties in wiping
parts of Ann, he really needs to get out more), we were left for a
while, no explanation, in a couple of chairs just outside the lab's
lunchroom. I can barely see the television set left on for the
employees' entertainment. There was a Nissan commercial on, and a couple
that look very much like us actually fighting over who's going to drive
one of their cars. Get real; given any choice in the matter, we'd never
get into one of the monstrosities again, and who can blame us?
Eventually, Joe came back. "Well, Ann, Andy, we're going to test the
Pontiac Aztek today". If he was expecting me to express enthusiasm, he
was disappointed; I was giving him the silent treatment - for that
matter, we both had been for some time, not that Joe noticed, he just
The trip over to the lab at the far end of the building was, as usual,
in that horrible push-cart. No springs, no cushions, I felt every bump
along the way, and they still haven't fixed that wobbling wheel, so it
oscillates and squeaks the entire time - enough to drive anybody nuts.
Some joker thought it would be funny to affix a Cadillac crest to the
front of the cart. If this is supposed to be a Caddy's ride, I'd hate to
see the Chevy version, I assure you.
At the end of the lab was our nightmare for the day. Gawd, that's an
ugly sucker; today's activities will probably result in an improvement
in the Aztek's looks. For a moment even the push-cart rose a notch in my
Joe had us in the front seats pretty quickly. I was given the seat of
honor - Ha! - behind the steering wheel, with Ann beside me. When he had
me belted in, he said "There, now; all comfy?" Yeah, I thought, just
like a beach chair in the Bahamas. Actually, Joe, why don't you send us
to Nassau, and you sit here, eh?
There was a surprise in store for us, when a second couple arrived a
moment later, for the rear seats. Great, let's spread the suffering
around, OK? I had never seen either before; a quiet couple if I ever saw
The Aztek was already on the test track, ready to go, which probably
explained the lengthy delay in the morning. Lucky sucker, thinks I,
you'll only have to go through this once. I wish that they'd at least
leave the radio on, just to take our minds off the proceedings, but they
never do. Therefore, I could clearly hear the PA system when someone
called out, "Prepare for testing! All personnel exit the lab!" All
except us, of course, you jerks. That door handle was so inviting, only
a few inches away.
It's so hard to know Ann's feelings. She's not an emotional type,
anyway, but today I could see that she was rigid with terror. She just
sat there, arms at her sides, resigned to the inevitable. I wanted to
share my own fears with her, but I just couldn't get the words out.
Despite the warnings, the klaxon's blare came as a surprise. The Aztek
bolted forward - heh, probably faster than one of these pigs could
accelerate in the real world - and time seemed to slow down for me. I
couldn't look away from the barrier, I never can. They should paint
"Abandon all hope, all who enter here" on it, for this is truly Hell.
The few seconds seemed to stretch out forever, as if just to torture us.
I found myself thinking that perhaps they should use people convicted of
capital crimes in our place; but no, even they were protected by laws
against cruel and unusual punishments, and it wouldn't take a genius to
determine that our job was cruel without question.
The impact - a straight-on one this time - happened so fast that my
impressions of it are jumbled. Every part of my body seemed to be going
in a different direction. One part was more successful than the rest; my
left arm disappeared out the window, I could see it out of the corner of
my eye as it skittered across the concrete floor. The Aztek, in its
death agony, gave me the impression that it wanted to take its woes out
on me; the dash crowded my face in the instant before the airbag
deployed, and the floor erupted upwards, pushing my knees upwards
towards my chest. Over it all, there was a banshee shriek of tearing,
bending metal, like the Aztek was trying to express its pain.
The quiet afterwards was almost complete. There was a buzzer sounding,
to announce that a door was open. No kidding, Sherlock; the driver's
side door was off one hinge entirely, and dangling just above the floor
of the lab. Like everything else, it was covered in tiny fragments of
glass from the doors and windshield, resembling some form of macabre
My right arm, the one I still had, thank you, was resting on the console
armrest. Or was it; the arm seemed higher than normal. Over to the
right, there was Ann, and it took a moment to see that her condition was
worse than mine. Her neck and shoulders were no longer troubled by
having to support her head, it was gone. More accurately, it was found
again, as I now knew what my arm rested upon.
I cannot express my anguish! Why Ann, who had never had a harsh word for
anyone, should have to suffer so! I probably shouldn't have become so
attached to her, but we arrived here together, and I cannot remember a
time before she was part of my life.
Despite the impression that we sat there amidst the wreckage for hours,
Joe showed up quickly after the test. While I couldn't turn around to
see his approach, the crunch of glass fragments under his shoes, and a
loud scrape when he inadvertently stepped on an errant hubcap, announced
his arrival well enough. I don't think it was as a courtesy, but we got
Ann out first. He needed a second trip to retrieve her head. I wanted to
cry, unseemly as it might appear, but I felt empty inside. Soon, I was
beside Ann in the push-cart and being rolled out of the lab, while other
technicians were coping with the couple in the remains of the back seat.
There's a room in one corner of the lab complex that I hate above all
others, and of course that was where we were taken. Dropped without
ceremony, or care, on a large metal table, Ann and I had our severed
limbs and other scrapes, abrasions and gouges attended to. It didn't
take long, I presume in part because they weren't especially interested
in doing a good job. Fortunately, from where I was lying I could not see
Ann; at times like this I cannot face her. I am powerless to protect her
from our plight, which doesn't make me much of a man, does it?
Evening must've been approaching as we were wheeled out; the sun slanted
in from a window in the hallway at a low angle, and people were
streaming past wearing overcoats and carrying briefcases. Not a one
bothered to give us a second glance. At least we were assured that the
day's testing was over.
Tonight finds me back where I started the day; cold, bitter, and lying
in the dark. Tomorrow will, likely as not, bring more of the same, and
knowing that enduring it might cause others not to suffer gives little
satisfaction. Next to me, I think that I hear Ann letting out the
slightest whimper, but I'm sure it is just my imagination. Please let it
be my imagination.
When will it end? Won't somebody help us?
(Larry Wright "I can't get no-- Satis-traction")