I WAS going to write something light and jovial this week, but events haven't gone very jovially I'm afraid.
Last September, for Tom's 18th birthday, we gave him half a car - a '99 Commodore Berlina.
It had been Rita's transport for a few years, was meticulously maintained, had new tyres and battery and was in terrific condition.
We knew it would be reliable transport for him. I say half a car, because we felt that if he paid something towards it, he would respect and value it more than if it was handed to him on a platter.
The agreement was that he could pay it off over a couple of months, and in the meantime get the hours up to obtain his licence.
The couple of months stretched out to about six and the driving lessons seemed to interfere with his social life.
Nevertheless he finally paid it off a few weeks back and ownership was transferred into his name.
He then came up with the bright idea of a couple of his newly licensed mates driving him around in his car.
We pointed out to him that although his mates, who couldn't afford cars of their own, would think it a terrific idea, this was something he had worked for and should protect.
Also, he had no insurance (not even third party) and the consequences of an accident involving another vehicle would be financially disastrous, not to mention the health risks posed by inexperienced drivers.
Friday a week ago I arrived home to find Tom and his car gone.
His mate had come over, they got in the car and headed off to another friend's for the evening.
It was a crappy night with torrential rain and gale force winds. On the way home, apparently travelling at 15kmh under the speed limit (they say), Tom's mate swerved to avoid a tree that had fallen across the road, lost control and spun 360 degrees - damaging every panel of the car in the process.
I knew nothing of this until the following Wednesday evening when I asked him when he was having his mate bring the car back and he admitted that they had totalled it.
I spent the next hour shaking at the thought of what could have happened to them, relieved that they had both come out of the accident okay, and anger at the sheer stupidity of their actions - and that he hadn't called me, instead loading it on to his mate's mum.
The next day I went and had a look at the car and saw just how lucky they were.
The stoved-in rear quarter panel had split the fuel tank. If it had been the other side where the exhaust was, there would have been a more than fair chance that they would have gone up in flames.
The front offside wheel rim was broken, the front end in pieces and the whole nearside dented.
Now here he is, substantially out of pocket, no transport, but thankfully still alive. His mates must be peeved that they don't have a car to drive as well!
I don't know what I have to do to get through to him the dangers facing inexperienced drivers.
Here is yet another in that P-plate bracket that has entered the statistics of "10 times more likely...''.
Maybe, as Tom walks to and from work on these cold winter's nights, he will reflect on the old adage, "actions have consequences''.
Take care of You
Kermie, 0418 139 415, firstname.lastname@example.org
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