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When I was in college, I had a red VW convertible Bug. Like all Bugs it had its idiosyncracies. There was no floor in the back seat for instance.

The quirk relevant to this story, however, involved the emergency brake. Thankfully, the emergency brake worked well. It would stop and hold the car just fine.

It just wouldn't lock in place.

Being the inventive sort that I am, I fashioned a device to lock said emergency brake in place, namely a Coke can that I bent in half and wedged under the brake lever. Cheap, easy, recyclable and it worked well.

At this time, I lived with my parents and commuted to school. My parents' house had a steeply sloped driveway which led down to their street, which formed a short level patch.

Since the ground continued to slope, the neighbors across the street's yard was yet lower than street level. Therefore, they had a retaining wall about 3 feet high abutting the street. That is to say, there was a 3 foot drop off from the street to their yard.

Here's a diagram (hope this works.)

\ 
   \ 
      \ 
          ----------- 
                        |                    ^^^^^^ 
                        |                    |||||||||| 
                         --------------------|||||||||| 
drvwy    street             yard              house 
                                                           

One fine morning I was, as was (and is) my practice, running late. Since "wake and bake" was my policy at the time, other factors may have been involved.

I went out to the car, started it, removed my handy-dandy Coke can and prepared to back down the drive and proceed to class.

Just then I remembered that I’d forgotten to pick up a book I needed for class that morning. I had to run back in and grab it.

So, I hastily shoved the Coke can back under the brake lever, jauntily hopped out of the car and trotted back toward the house.

Only to see the damn Coke can slide out.

Now, I'm not a small man and the VW Beetle is not a large car.

But the laws of physics are pretty damned merciless. So, needless to say, grabbing the door handle and attempting to slow the car's ever more rapid careen down the driveway was, in a word, pointless.

Until the day I die, I shall never forget the sight of my beloved red convertible Beetle fully airborne, in full majestic flight toward the master suite of the neighbor's house, a mere 40 feet or so away. I know it's cliche, but time stood still for me then. The moment had a terrible beauty all its own.

The car landed almost gracefully and barrelled across the grass.

It stopped no more than three inches from the house.

Needless to say, I was stunned by this turn of events. It took several moments for me to react in other than incoherent syllables and random pacing.

Finally after several deep breaths, a few "Wows", more "Far Outs" than I like to admit and at least three "Holy Shits", I was more capable of addressing the situation.

I didn't know whether to call the police, a tow truck, the National Guard, my Dad or Maury fucking Povich.

Finally, I got in the car and turned the key.

It started right up.

I drove through the yard, across the front walk, over to the driveway and up to the street.

The car ran fine. Nothing seemed to be damaged.

Nobody had seen any of this. No witnesses.

I could not believe my luck. I breathed God's own sigh of relief, sat for a few seconds to gather myself for the drive, then with the cheery manner of a man who has dodged a bullet with his name on it, set off toward class with a song in my heart.

It was 35 minutes later and I was parking in my secret spot next to campus when I realized that I never did go back to grab the book.

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