Photos: Justin Westbrook

I didn’t see the sagging metal cable stretched across the camp entrance when I went to turn around the $175,000 2019 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo I was driving until it was too late.

(Full Disclosure: Porsche wanted us to drive a Panamera Sport Turismo so bad that they very generously dropped it off to my boss, Patrick George. My extremely generous, kind, and loving boss then let me take the $175,000 station wagon for a couple days. I then got it scratched. We are telling you this story because, unlike some journalists, we own up to our stupid mistakes.)

My hands squeezing the steering wheel in shock went numb and my stomach floated into my throat at the site of the cable swinging against the silver metallic nose of the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo I was lucky to be driving earlier this morning. An echo of an unusually high-pitched scream was ringing through the cabin. I’m still not sure if the scream was real or just in my head.

I imagine the overwhelming terror I was experiencing is what it feels like when new parents accidentally drop stuff on their first born.

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Yesterday I had talked to my coworker, Raph, about how I was having stress dreams over driving such an expensive and flashy vehicle. I had postponed my plans to drive out of the city by a day in hopes of better weather, specifically to limit the risks of something going wrong. I was parking twelve blocks away from my apartment to make sure the Panamera was kept in a garage.

I was so worried and self-policing, focused on avoiding the big fuck-up, and now I had hit something right in front of me in the middle of nowhere turning around at the blinding speed of no more than walking pace.

After gently backing away from the oxidized rope of metal, I crawled out of the car and hesitantly pulled my head around to inspect the damage. Yep. Oh. Oh man. Fuck.

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I licked my thumb, you know, just in case the dark, sharply defined valleys streaking up toward the hood of the car was somehow, miraculously, just some dirt. Instead, I was just polishing my handiwork, giving the scars a gentle wash so that they could really catch the light and stand out even more than before. Fuck.

Minutes, hours, days, years passed by as I slipped into the mental settings reserved for crisis. Three months into working out of the Jalopnik main bunker and I had damaged one of the most expensive cars I would likely ever drive. What would the phone call to Porsche be like? How would my bosses react? How much ribbing would I get from my coworkers? How long would it be before I could drive something again?

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I took a few steps back as my mind compressed into millions of thoughts, my consciousness looking for a loophole in the unyielding one-way momentum of time, seeking a way to backtrack and avoid this whole situation from ever happening. My anger grew as I concluded there was no hope of warping the laws of the universe. Fuck.

Lurking in my subconscious was the voice of the devil, echoes of laughter interrupted by the brief proposition of finding someone or something else to blame. I looked around. The weather was nice. The roads were clear. There’s even a little yellow tag hanging from the cable. I just steered a six-figure car straight into an easily avoidable obstacle. Fuck.

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I’ll tell you what the weight of $175,000 feels like. It feels like standing in soft dirt, the cold breeze stinging the hands now aggressively squeezing your face, your brain pressurizing inside your skull, legs limp, back stiff, while cold blood runs over the waves of heat coursing through your sad, ashamed and dumb little body gently swaying back and forth.

Eventually the trees and dirt and road slowly faded back around me as my stomach worked its way out of my throat and I stepped out of my personal sea of shame and self pity. If I had eaten breakfast this morning, it would have become a gift to the scavengers of Bear Mountain State Park.

And then I got over it. What could I do? I didn’t have any phone signal. There was no one else around. The 550 horsepower twin-turbo V8 landship was perfectly functional, its exhaust still gently humming in the background of my tragedy like a panting dog, and I was still up around some of the best roads within a reasonable distance of Manhattan. Yes, any True Porsche Man will tell you even an ever-so-slight scratch on one renders it Ruined Forever And Ever And You’ll Never Get Your Bring-A-Trailer Reserve Price With One, but the great thing about cars is that they so often just keep going, even when we’re idiots.

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So I got in and went for a drive.

The Panamera does have some sort of clear body protection wrap around the front, so hopefully nothing cut beyond that. Porsche knows to prepare for idiots like me.

If you’re driving around roads you know are closed, be sure to pay attention for signs, gates and, yes, even cables that may be there for the sole purpose of stopping car-sized objects.

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Don’t be careless, like me. Don’t scratch a $175,000 car on an otherwise beautiful morning.