I Crashed the Family Car at a Drive-in Movie Theatre
Does it get any more embarrassing?
I was 15 years old and holidaying down at Port Elliot on the south coast of South Australia. It was Saturday night and Dad wanted to have a boy’s night out so he took my brother and I to the famous Port Elliot Drive-in Theatre.
It was a warm night in the school holidays and the cinema was packed with cars, however we still managed to get a central position about midway back. We watched a few local Val Morgan advertisements before the main movie then headed for the candy bar for a choc top ice cream, a chocolate milkshake and a bag of Fruchocs. We were set.
We walked back to the car and I jumped in the driver’s seat for a laugh and made my Dad sit in the passenger side. The legal age for a drivers licence in South Australia was 16. We had our old 1950’s style speaker attached to my window but the cord was too short and we needed to move the car back a bit to get the speaker in the right position. Our car was actually ahead of the speaker pole but needed to be reversed back about a metre or two. I had my door open due to the heat, and I was being a bit of a smart ass that night and yelled out “Hey Dad, let me move the car back for ya?” I had never driven a car before and was way too young anyway, but Mum was not around so Dad gave me the ‘thumbs up.’
He was talking me through how to reverse the car when we suddenly started to move backwards. Unfortunately the car door was still open. Dad then yelled at me “THE DOOR!” and this was followed by an almighty BANG! I had crashed the car into our own speaker pole.
I was in shock and panicked as Dad yelled at me to “STOP!” For some reason I lost my mind and slammed my foot on the accelerator, the car engine was roaring, the tyres were smoking, and the door was slowly being wrenched off in reverse. The scene was mayhem and the other patrons were certainly ‘getting their monies worth’ as the door continued to push the speaker pole over. The sound of crunching metal was one I will never forget.
I eventually took my foot off the accelerator and hit the brake, but it was way too late and the damage was done. As expected, everyone gave me the Aussie salute by honking their horns, flashing their car lights, and cheering my blunder. I remember 3 guys running up to Dad and offering their help to try and close the damaged door. They all pushed and pulled on the door until it clunked back into a closed position. The people all around us were still laughing and cheering and enjoying the free entertainment I had provided.
I was so embarrassed I laid on the car floor under the dashboard for the entire 2 hour movie. I had no idea what movie we were watching, and quite frankly I didn’t care, I just wanted to go home and hide. My confidence with cars was rocked so much after this incident I was in no hurry to get my drivers licence at 16, and quite happily waited until I was almost 18. I guess that was the only positive for Dad after such a disaster.
Brett Partington -writes authentic stories that resonate. A relatable storyteller who makes you feel like you are right there on the journey with him. A born ‘trouble magnet’ with a unique & positive view on the world.
Never boring as he is a public speaker, carer, tour guide, drummer, ex fashion retailer, b&b host, father & avid people watcher.