When I finished grad school and got my first job in 2003, the first thing I did was take the first two paychecks I got and put a down payment on a 2003 Honda Accord EX. It was beautiful. She had the black exterior with the caramel-colored seats and wood-grain interior. She drove like the wind.
After I saw the movie Roll Bounce, I named her Black Sweetness, after one of my favorite characters from the movie. I financed the car for 60 months; my final payment on Black Sweetness would be July 2008.* My payments were made on the 4th of every month. I was good to go. I had my new car and was out here stylin’ on everybody.
That all came to an end on at about 3:30 p.m. on March 22, 2008. I remember this day very well because it is the day that Black Sweetness died.
In 2008, I lived in a basement apartment at the southwest corner of First Street and S Street NW, in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C. A highlight of my time living there includes the time I had a six-hour standoff with a raccoon who stood at the entryway to my apartment from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., confining me to my car because I did not want it with a raccoon from the ’hood.
At 2:10 p.m. on March 22, 2008, Duke and West Virginia tipped 0ff in the second round of the 2008 NCAA March Madness tournament. Around 3:30 p.m., as I lay on my couch watching Duke play a game they would eventually lose, I hear what sounds like a bomb go off outside. Have you ever had one of those feelings like something bad just happened and you’re effected, but because of that feeling you’re like, eh fuck it, I’ll go see about this later? I watched the end of the game—Duke lost 73-67—then put on a Morehouse hoodie, and walked out of my apartment. My next-door neighbor saw me and said three words that I’ll never forget.
“That’s you, jack!”
Listen, I don’t know how else to describe it than this: It looked like my car exploded. Like somebody shook up a bottle of Coke until the force of the carbonation exploded the bottle. My car went from being a four-door sedan to being a two-door coupe and parts of my car, as well as other cars were all over our neighborhood; some pieces were found as far as 200 feet away.
What had happened was, two dudes stole a car in Mt. Rainier, Md., just across the D.C. line, and a police officer from that jurisdiction chased them through the streets of D.C. They sped down Rhode Island Avenue NE, turned south on the North Capitol Street NW access road, turned right onto the unit-block of S Street NW—a significant miscalculation—sped down the street, hit a speed bump, went airborne, pinballed off the front of a BMW truck that had stopped at the intersection into my parked car, which stopped their movement but pushed my car about 20 feet forward, destroying it in the process.
The driver of the BMW truck was able to walk away but was transported to the hospital—the Washington Medical Center was literally up the street, thankfully—but their poor BMW was basically decapitated. The two dudes who stole the car were obviously significantly injured and it is my understanding they were both arrested and taken to the hospital at the same time.
My car though, whoooooooo chile. She was demolished. For a week (while waiting for the insurance adjusters to come and total it out), people would walk by my car and take pictures of it and pose. At some point, I went to buy a car cover because I didn’t like people looking at my baby like something was wrong with her, like a spectacle. The insurance adjuster almost crashed his car when he saw my car. He spent a total of maybe 15 seconds with my car before deeming it entirely totaled beyond repair and estimated my insurance payout.
So here’s the fuck shit: Remember, a police officer chased this stolen car from Maryland into D.C., where he had no jurisdiction? The D.C. police wanted nothing to do with it because they had nothing to do with it. The Mt. Rainier Police Department folks claimed no responsibility despite their cop’s lack of jurisdiction because it happened in D.C. So basically, nobody was at fault, somehow. Except for the car thieves who, well, for obvious reasons, were not on my radar for their insurance information. My Geico insurance had to cover it.
But here’s the good news: My car had about 60,000 miles on it and the value on Honda Accords is tremendous. I got a pretty sizable five-figure check from the insurance company and turned that into a 2008 Dodge Magnum R/T V8 with the Hemi for lower car payments than with the Accord and some money in the bank.
All in all, I was pretty calm, almost to the point of being amused by the entire ordeal. My parked car was involved in a high-speed police chase. Some things you just have to realize are beyond your control. I laughed and took pictures with my car. And I got a great insurance payout.
Sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes you’re the windshield, and I suppose considering the circumstances, I managed to be both in this situation.
R.I.P. Black Sweetness, 2003-2008.
*On Facebook, I implied that I had two payments left. I checked the records and it was four.