Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Porn Store Story

The porn store on The Boulevard sits on a median strip, so it looks like it is practically in the middle of the road. My run-in with the store was literally a run-in.

Sometime between 1994 and 1995, I was driving my 1983 Toyota Corolla south on The Boulevard, having just gotten off the I-95 exit. I had 2,000 copies of my newspaper, the Richmond Music Journal, in my trunk, fresh from the printing plant in Ashland, and was starting my delivery route. In my personal life, things were not going well. I was unemployed, on food stamps, and living on credit card advances. I was in the middle of a divorce. No doubt I was preoccupied.

In any case, I was at the stoplight directly across from that porn store when I saw a light several blocks ahead change to green and in response, I pressed down on the gas pedal even though my own light was still red. An old white work van T-boned me. My car went into a spin into the parking lot of the porn store where I slid into the three cars parked there. My car was totaled and I had inflicted damage on four others. I was unhurt. Luck.

Stunned, I knew I had to call the police and get the paperwork done for all these other drivers to sue me. This was a time before affordable and commonplace cell phones, so I went into the porn store to use their phone. Rubber dicks were hanging on all the walls. I explained to the attendant what had happened and could I use the phone, but before I was finished, three men ran out of the store, into the parking lot, and drove away in their damaged cars. Luck.

They did not want to be part of a police accident report that placed them in the parking lot of the porn store in the middle of the day. They’d rather repair their cars on their dime. So that was three of four problems solved. The police came and took the reports. The tow truck towed away my car and the van that hit me. Then I realized I was in a real pickle. My newspapers were in the trunk of the car, newspapers I needed to deliver that day so I could collect the advertising revenue. And I didn’t have the newspapers or a car.

I went back into the porn store and looked up the nearest car rental business and called. Now I needed a ride. A customer in the store volunteered to take me. It is a miracle I am still alive. Yes, I got into the car of a strange man I met in a porn store. Luck.

His car was even older than my ’83 Toyota and was a sea of garbage. It was obvious he never had passengers because he had to do a lot of cleaning just to clear the seat. My legs were still almost knee deep in debris. Off we went down Broad Street to the car rental place. My side of the conversation was moaning about my bad luck and bad driving.

I don’t think he had much experience with real women outside photos in a porn store because he seemed excited and eager to be of service, but still tongue-tied. Finally he rustled through the debris on his dashboard -- coins, food wrappers, tickets, paper – and came up with a sad and sticky looking piece of gum. He presented it to me. “Would you like a refreshing piece of gum?”

No one has ever offered me a “refreshing” piece of gum before. I never forgot it. It was like the most awkward courtship ever, but I did want to arrive at the car rental place so I accepted it, and despite all its dubious history, took off the wrapper and put the gum in my mouth. I dropped the wrapper on the car floor where it was sucked in the muck.

He did deliver me to my destination. I thanked him. He did not ask for my name or phone number or to see me again. That was Courtship 102 and he had barely passed 101 that day. I would have said no, anyway, but politely. Luck.

The end of the story is I rented a car with my credit card, drove to the junkyard, transferred my newspapers from one car to the other, hugged my Toyota good-bye with much weeping, apologized for killing it, delivered my newspapers, and then drove the rental around to dubious car lots on Midlothian Turnpike until I found a 1989 Mercury Tracer for $3,500, which I bought with a credit card cash advance check. Then I filed for bankruptcy, so it was a free car. Remember, I had no job. Luck.

I drove it for 10 years. It had a bend in the top of the antennae, which eight years later, made it recognizable to its original owner who left me a note on my windshield. He had driven that car back and forth from Roanoke when he was going through a divorce and put so many miles on it, he sold it after four years. I probably put another $6,000 into it to keep it running until I finally found a stable job in 2002 and could buy another car.

Also, after the accident, despite only one of the four drivers filing a claim against me, Allstate canceled my insurance. Not only had I had an accident, I was driving while divorced. Divorced women are an increased liability. We are preoccupied and usually drunk. We are suicidal and distracted. All the other auto insurers gave me outrageously high quotes. Remember, I did not have a job. I was trying to figure out what to do when my Allstate renewal bill came in the mail. I called my agent. I thought I was canceled?

“Pay it quick,” he said. “It’s a mistake, but if you pay it and they accept it, then they have to cover you for another year.” I dropped another credit card check in the mail ahead of the bankruptcy. They cashed it. I was never canceled again. Luck.

Every time I stop at that light across from the porn store, I get a grip on myself. Watch the light in front of you, not down the street. Pay attention. And so far I have safely gotten by it every time. Luck.

3 comments:

  1. Fabulous story!!! more than luck!

    shann palmer

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete