Monday, March 29, 2010

On the Road Again, I Just Can't Wait To Get On The Road Again

It's been eight years, but I will soon be mobile again.

My life being what it is these days (hectic), I felt a vehicle was becoming a necessity.

I parked my car for the last time the day I bought my house. The car ran, but needed a fair bit of work... at a time when money was tight owing to my first mortgage. I told myself I'd fix the car the minute the money became available.

It never did.

Every time it looked as though a few bucks could be spared, something would happen. The cats got sick, fridge conked out, computer died, furnace crapped out, had to post bail, etc. It never failed.

It seemed as though I'd be riding the bus forever.

That all changed when my friend decided he and his wife were buying a new car.

He joked about using his car, a four-door '91 Dodge Spirit, as trade in on a newer model... or calling one of those "$100 for vehicles - running or not" places to take it away, or even calling one of those "Retire your Ride" programs.

Well, after being informed there was a bit of a wait involved vis the "Retire your Ride" folks (who are fucking swamped, incidentally - one towing company was told they'd have maybe 600 cars all year... they just hit 2300 by the end of February!), it seemed he'd be opting for the trade-in route. Problem was, he wouldn't get much for it.

Never one to pass up an opportunity, I pounced, "If you're just getting rid of it, Hell, I'll take it!"

"Huh?" he replied, "Are you serious?!"

"I'm dead serious," I told him, giving him my I'm Dead Serious look, "How much do you want for it?"

"Well, er," he stammered, "I'll have to talk it over with the wife and we'll let you know."

"Great," my inner cynic bitched, "Something you can't give away suddenly becomes something of utmost value in a heartbeat just because someone wants it. How typically Winnipeg."

So, the asking price became the object of much speculation 'round the hose shop for the next few days. One said $3500. Another $2000. I myself figured $1500.

A week after our initial conversation, he had an answer, "$500."

My inner cynic was wrong for a change. How about that?

He and his wife had literally just bought a car from another of the employees at work, in fact, he'd be driving it home that day... and told me I could take his car right then and there, so I could take it in for the safety inspection (and mechanical inspection, too). I made the appointment for later that week, and was told to keep the car as long as I needed.

So, for one glorious week, I was mobile again. I would arrive home at 5:25 instead of my usual 6:30. I could sleep in for an hour in the mornings. I didn't have to limit my grocery purchases to what I could carry comfortably on the bus... and I could make my usual Saturday rounds in three hours instead of seven!

Funny, the things you take for granted... I've had time to work on my house, time to do my usual chores, and even had time to myself!

So, Friday rolled around. I dropped the car off at my old mechanic's place. Turns out he retired years ago, but his son was running the business. I gave him the keys and my business card, and walked to work.

11am came the phone call.

"Shaun, have you bought this car yet?" he asked.

"Nope," I replied.

"Thank God," he said.

Now, you know it can never be a good sign when a mechanic breathes an obvious sigh of relief.

"Ouch," I winced, "That bad?"

"Yeah," he laughed nervously, "I started tallying everything up, but stopped counting at $1200."

"Fuck!", I laughed, shaking my head, "That bad, eh?"

"Yeah," he laughed, "and that's just so it'll pass safety."

"So," I added, "I'm looking at a lot more to have it run well, then?"

"Pretty much," he sighed.

I laughed, but I was dying inside. Gone was the massive time-savings. Gone was the sleeping in. Gone was the convenience factor. Dead was my dream of a road trip to the east coast. Back was the bus and foul-smelling homeless bus shelters downtown. Sigh.

I walked over to his shop on my lunch hour with my head hung low. We went over everything on the inspection sheet, discussed a few things, and he made a comment that stuck with me...

"Yeah, I wouldn't recommend spending the money to have the work done. This'd be a perfect job for a backyard mechanic though..."

Oh shit. That was the wrong thing to say to me. Me, an Aquarian hacker with actual mechanical experience, who works in an industrial/hydraulic hose shop... and who enjoys a Herculean challenge.

But more on that later.

I walked into my friend's office (he's also my boss). I closed the door, sat down, and said, "Sorry matey, the deal's off."

He looked at me as though there could have been no other possible outcome.

We went over the list, and I gave him back his keys.

That should have been the end of it. Should have.

But the mechanic's words echoed in my mind... haunting me, tormenting me, like so many ghosts from my past.

At night I dreamt about it. The black spirit of that blue Spirit invaded my sleep with peals of cruel, mocking laughter.

"Fiiiiiiixxxx meeeeee," it wailed, "Wheeler, you must fiiiiiiixxxx meeee... driiiiivveee meeee! We are onnnneeeeee! Ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaa!"

I started to feel like the protagonist in Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. After a few restless nights of wrestling with the idea of buying the car anyway, warts and all, and fixing it myself, something hit me.

I already had my Lenore.

The same Lenore I parked in my garage for the first and last time in 2002. The same '86 Daytona Turbo Z I could never find time or funding to fix. The same car I cruised in, raced in, got laid in, etc. If I'm toying with the idea of fixing a vehicle, why don't I start with the one I already own?

I have the means, the ability, and now finally the desire to bring the ol' girl back from the dead a second time.



I started working on her tonight. She'll be done mid-summer.

Will I take the bus again?

Nevermore.

(Yeah, like you didn't see that coming!)

6 comments:

Old Chum said...

Good write, and good luck with that job. It will be worth it .

Shaun M. Wheeler said...

Thanks, old buddy, old pal!

I'll be delving more into the history of the car in the coming weeks, as repairs progress.

As with any old car, there are stories to tell!

Grumpy Old Man said...

That was a good read... Good luck with the old-new car.

DriveGoddess said...

No wonder you have been busy and not available for one of my fab din din's!! I forgive you oh great and powerful Wheeler for I too had an obsession with a car or three in my life, the last one being the "free" 240D Benz.....an epic story if there ever was!

Bless your black heart....I thought - for a millisecond - that my food was no longer satisfactory....heheheheheh! I will have to come over now to check out the project.

Shaun M. Wheeler said...

No, I really was ignoring you!

Just kidding! I've been busy with renovations on the house, fixing the car, my daily drudgery, writing, and trying to have a social life...

Just bought a new wireless card for my laptop, so I hope to hit some of my old haunts this weekend for coffee and wifi.

DriveGoddess said...

DARLINK.....hahahahah....no one in their right mind could ever ignore me. Oh man, a car project - that rules...as we talked about earlier. Any chick who cannot understand the little obsessions say about carbs, axles, U-joints, bodies, paint schemes - well, they are slack.

Actually, I KNOW some dudes who would not even "get" what our car obsessions are about....and they are straight.

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