A Spider’s tale by (1 Story)

Prompted By My First Car

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“You need to move your car. I don’t care where you put it, but it can’t stay in the office lot.” my boss admonished. I was 24 and my beautiful baby, my precious ragtop Fiat Spider, was dead.

This was a sporty Italian that a 20-something beach-blond working at a Santa Monica tech start-up could LOVE.

Three weeks earlier, on a Sunday morning in southern California, I had found my car at the curb with both ends smashed to bits. I stood on the sidewalk, too stunned to cry. My mother had let me take the Fiat when I moved to Venice. I suspect she had better uses for the space in her garage occupied by her ex-husband’s (my father’s) shiny red toy.

I LOVED that car. I replaced the top at what seemed extravagant personal expense when the plastic rear “window” yellowed and cracked. I had Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Beach Boys and “Hair” 8-track tapes. Shit, I even knew how to top up the fluids, replace hoses and change a flat.

This is not a photo of my car. If “selfies” and fb had been around in the 80’s I’d be able to fill albums of me and my friends on PCH, Sunset Boulevard and CA 101.  This car was the best likeness I could find online. This was a sporty Italian that a 20-something beach-blond working at a Santa Monica tech start-up could LOVE.

Part of me crumpled at the sight of my disfigured car. Things did not improve. A police notice on my windshield indicated that I was liable for damages to the car parked in front of mine. Yes, technically, the impact from my car had damaged that vehicle, BUT come on! Did the officer even glance at the back of my car?? My legally-parked, in first gear, with the brake set, car?! Where was the guy that trashed my ride?! When I reported the hit-and-run to the police, I learned that the driver who caused the pile-up had been hospitalized and his car towed away.

Things didn’t look good for my roadster. The car was 10-years old and, judging by the damage to both ends and difficulty opening the doors, the frame was bent. The best I could hope for was to walk away with the Blue Book value. Turns out, I was far too optimistic.

I contacted my insurance company, and we spoke. A short time later, they called me back with more information. It turned out that the *&%$@#! who precipitated the mess was an out-of-state, unemployed, uninsured, 20-year old, drunk driver who ran a red light before slamming into my parked car, and he was currently being cared for in a local hospital at taxpayer expense.

Breath in, breath out.,


Maybe a few more breaths.

Surely my insurance would be enough to cover the down payment on a sensible car!.

Insurance agent: Oh, you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage. I’m sorry but we won’t be able to compensate you.

Breath in.

Me: … But my car is insured. And California requires everyone to insure their cars.

Breath out.

Insurance agent: Right, but this driver was from out-of-state, and you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage.

Breath in.

Me: … But the car is insured, and I’m not at fault.

Insurance agent: Correct, but you aren’t insured against this type of damage. I’m sorry, but you are not eligible for any compensation.

Breath out.

Parking fines would rapidly add to my misery if I left the car on the street. I climbed in.

The engine started and the wheels stayed on as I slowly pulled away from the bits of broken glass, plastic and metal at the curb. My office was only a mile away, so I slowly drove there and eased into a stall in the empty lot.

“Anna,” my boss gently but firmly admonished, “you need to move your car.”

Seeing no other options, I enlisted a friend’s help to have it hauled away for salvage and scrap.

I LOVED that car.

Someday I’m going to let myself fall in love with another car. I’ve liked a few other cars over the years but it’s hard to forget a first love.  Lately I’ve even been eying the “minimalist luxury” of a Volvo sedan, but I’m not quite ready to commit.

Profile photo of longstocking longstocking

Characterizations: funny, moving, well written


  1. John Zussman says:

    That Spider was indeed a beautiful car, and I can just picture you at 24, driving it top down along the PCH. I kept hoping for a happy ending, and my heart went out to you as you were caught by the “gotcha” insurance policies of the time. “Welcome to adulthood, now pay this bill.” Thanks for sharing this on Retrospect.

  2. Susan says:

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry?! What a story. My first car was so rusted out you could see the ground pass by under the floorboards.

    Oh, the passion of first love. Welcome to Retrospect.

  3. Suzy says:

    I had an Italian convertible called a Spider too, although mine was an Alfa, so I can relate to your love for that car. It was painful for me to read about what happened to your Spider, although you wrote it in a light, humorous style that eased the pain a little. Thanks for sharing, and welcome!

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