Healthy Gamer

Healthy Gamer – Riding In Cars With (Fat) Boys

rollerskate“I know a lot about cars, man. I can look at any car’s headlights and tell you exactly which way it’s coming.” – Mitch Hedberg

Go figure that right after I make my claim that things are going to get better/more frequent that life throws a wrench into the works. Or more accurately a Jeep Wrangler.

A few weeks back I was rear ended and the back end of my faithful Camry sustained heavy damage.  Fortunately no board games were harmed in the collision. Or people.

The other driver assumed full responsibility and it was just a matter of estimates, repairs, blah blah blah. His insurance company said they would pay for a rental car while all of this was settled.

Which is where the problems begin. The Camry is mine. It’s comfortable and familiar. The Camry is my Serenity. My Millenium Falcon. She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts. Part of “where it counts” is its ability for me to not worry about it.

Now while I enjoy driving, this is not the reason I always volunteer to do so if cars are needed for whatever activity I am engaging in. I offer to pick people up rather than be picked up, not just because it’s kind, but because it saves me anxiety.

I’m a 6’6″ giant who is also overweight. I look at a lot of cars like rollerskates. In a lot of ways, it’s similar to the fears I suffered with chairs. On those rare occasions where I do agree to ride with someone else, there are always a number of things that are running through my mind. Things like…

Yeesh…that car looks…small.
Actually, all vehicles do to me. If it’s not something that looks like it should be sitting on Bigfoot wheels or featured in commercials pulling rigs up mountains while Bob Seger wails in the background, I make the often ridiculous assumption that I will not fit. This inevitably leads to an awkward pause before I try to get into the vehicle, which I’m pretty sure betrays my fear.

My hero!
My hero!

How low can you go?
Coupled with every non-jumbo jet vehicle being too small for me, I have an irrational fear that upon entry of the vehicle, it will drop 2 feet closer to the ground. Most cars aren’t more than a foot off the ground, so this is clearly going to be a problem. This anxiety escalates wildly if the door is next to something higher than the ground, like those damnable curbs. They’re everywhere! If the door is near a raised surface, I am terrified that when I get into the vehicle, it will voice its disapproval by means of a lovely grating sound of metal on concrete if the door is above a sidewalk. Or getting buried/stuck in dirt/grass, forever pinning us to the ground until Bob Seger and his truck happen across us to pull us out.

Safety first!
I’m now in the car. The driver is fastening their seat belt. I’m fumbling with mine, fearing that the tab on mine will strain and fail to reach the slot like a man in the desert who expires just inches away from the oasis.

Slow down!
If we hit a speed bump or a sharp ramp and there is any scraping whatsoever, I dismiss the evidence of markings from a thousand other cars scraping bottom on it, and I’m convinced that it wouldn’t have happened if I weren’t in the car. Further, in my head, every tiny scrape is something about to tear the whole bottom of the vehicle out.

What all of these things have in common is that with being heavy, you tend to exaggerate EVERYTHING that relates to your size. These anxieties compound quickly, and we have become masters of disguise when it comes to our faces concealing what’s going on in our minds.

Back to the rental, they were putting me in an unfamiliar car. They told me over the phone that they were reserving an “intermediate” car. Immediately I asked if it was comparable to a Camry, which they said it was. In retrospect, this was probably a weird question to them. Aren’t all mid-sized sedans the same? Not when you’re me they’re not. An inch of difference could be crucial.

I get to the rental facility to pick up the clown car I would be riding in for the next however long. The clerk checks their system to see what is available in their lot of intermediate cars and tells me I’ll be in a Honda Civic. He looks at me, pauses and asks “but if you need, I can get something…larger?”

The Mazda Miata is a right fine motor carriage!
The Mazda Miata is a right fine motor carriage!

And there it was. Reflexively, I give him the face that says “Rubbish, my good man! What a delightfully absurd notion. Come now, we’re late for the box social!” and assure him that it will be fine. That’s the first thing you do when someone references your size as some kind of obstacle, you deflect it. We hate being reminded of our size, no matter how true, regardless of how inoffensive (or even helpful) the intent.

The clerk and I go out to the car, and it does not look comparable to a Camry. I start to get nervous. He goes over the insurance and so on and so forth and hands over the keys. He waits for a second, and I start making small talk because there is no fucking way I am testing these waters with him standing right there. After a minute, I think he senses that I’m stalling and tells me to call should anything be wrong with the vehicle.

I wait until he’s completely gone before opening the car. Sigh. Not looking good. I go to adjust the seat back. It’s already back as far as it will go. I feel around the steering column looking for the thing that adjusts the wheel position. It doesn’t exist. Fuuuuuuck.

I look all around me, and making sure there are no witnesses, I start to get into the car. I’m down 117 lbs so far. I can fit in this, right?

I get in without too much difficulty. My shin is totally pressed painfully into the dashboard, and there’s next to zero room for my legs to move around to alleviate this, but I’ll be damned if I whisper a word of this to that guy. Comparable to a Camry my ass.

IT'S FINE. I'M FINE.
IT’S FINE. I’M FINE.

I’m still in the rental as of the writing of this and the car has actually grown pretty comfortable. That or the dash fits smoothly into the permanent groove worn into my shin.

I guess the moral of the story here is that our fears are rarely what we make them out to be. For all of the anxiety I put myself through, a lot of these problems may be more symptomatic of my height than my weight; but us heavies, we love our scapegoats. All it takes is one bad instance to lodge a permanent fear. Once a long time ago I had a safety belt not reach. This meant I was imperiled by all safety belts. I’ve scraped a door once or twice. This means that every time I am next to a curb, this will happen.  That one bad instance that you can’t prove was connected to you does NOT mean that all bad instances that relate even remotely to you are to be attributed to you. Just because you pushed the rock and the rock moved does not mean you moved the rock. Pretty simple, right?

Never stop challenging your fears, seek out situations that force you to test them. The monsters that are so gigantic and intimidating are often revealed to be cardboard cutouts once you can get past them to see. Stop being your own worst enemy.

More to come in the new year, this car nonsense has been a huge time sink and bureaucratic headache, but the end is in sight.

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