Wheels of misfortune

Are a few fender benders a sign of a jinxed Jetta?

I’m not a person who believes much in luck. Yes, oddball stuff happens that’s hard to explain, and some people just seem to live under a lucky star, if you know what I mean.

But we generally make our own luck, I’ve told my sons, so what happens to us likely isn’t happenstance most of the time.

But that’s talking about luck in life. What about luck in terms of a car? Is it possible to have an unlucky car?

My wife insists my current car is unlucky, and I’m starting to wonder.

My black VW Jetta is a monster at the pump, with its clean diesel engine delivering more than 30 mpg in city driving and topping 45 mpg on the highway.

It rides pretty well for a small car, and its self-identified “leatherette” (aka vinyl) seats repel whatever hits them, so the interior remains showroom-clean, particularly since I force my wife to ditch her ubiquitous soda before entering.

The Jetta also has plenty of trunk room, so if I summoned the energy to tackle some big project, it wouldn’t be the car’s fault when I didn’t finish the job.

So when I wonder about the car’s “luck” factor, I’m talking about its magnetic attraction to the front bumpers of other cars.

Shortly after I bought the car four years ago, while preparing to turn right at a light, I found myself being assisted by the pickup truck behind me. No personal injuries, luckily, but my rear bumper took a beating.

That repair lasted about six months, until I was rear-ended again at another stoplight, also while in the right turn lane.

The car repair people patched the plastic so it once again looked new. And again, luckily, there were no injuries, except for my pride: My wife began suggesting that somehow my driving was responsible for the trouble. I figured she was just circling back on the soda issue.

But still, what about the car and its luck, or lack thereof? Two bumper whacks, along with myriad paint nicks from the doors of negligent neighboring parkers, made me wonder, out loud, whether I should be looking for an alternative.

Before I could do anything, though, my wife and I were returning from San Antonio along a particularly scary two-lane stretch of I-35 north of Waco, where it’s difficult to keep much distance between other cars because of incessant speeding and tailgating.

Sure enough, a few cars ahead I saw an instantaneous collection of rear stop lights amid a cloud of burning rubber as two lanes jammed with vehicles braked suddenly. I pounded the Jetta’s brakes and steered first right and then left in my lane to avoid the car in front of mine.

We came to a stop without incident, followed quickly by a “pow” as the BMW behind us came to a stop.

Once again, my rear bumper was smacked, and this time the body shop won’t be able to repair it.

So is the car unlucky? Or is the car neutral and the bumper lucky, considering I didn’t wind up with actionable whiplash in any of the three accidents?

I guess we’ll find out, since that bumper is headed to the great plastic recycling bin in the sky.

Maybe the Jetta is lucky — it has taken its licks even as everyone involved has walked away without a scratch.

At the end of the day, isn’t that the luckiest thing of all?


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