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Friday, February 27, 2004

 

Blog's Salute to the Automobile - part 2

Part 1 is over here.

The van made it to morning but was worse for wear. After turning the key, I immediately knew something was wrong. The entire thing was shaking like a Disneyland ride about to jump the tracks. Would I even make it to work?

A ten minute drive took twice that. The van refused to accelerate beyond 30 MPH. Driver's passed and shook their heads. I was clearly stoned, deaf, dumb, blind and deserved to be blasted off the pavement. Breaking down in Beaverton wasn't an option. If the van died on Canyon Road, it would be become an oversized hockey puck. These motorists would tear at it like starving circus tigers.

The van made it and promptly collapsed. Throughout the workday, I dreaded what awaited me in the parking lot. Did the van have enough life in it to make it to a mechanic? The Blue Book value on this vehicle was maaaaaybe $3.57. Was it finally time to put the old thing out to pasture? Further contributing to these portents of doom were gathering storm clouds. As I headed out, I was welcomed by pouring rain.

The mechanic's shop was two miles away. It was 6 PM, the height of rush hour traffic. Would Mad Max take this risk or just call AAA? Eager to get the nightmare underway, I hoped in. Now the van's odometer refused to rise above 20. Fifteen brutal minutes later, the van huffed and puffed into a garage.

The staff eyed it warily. They'd operated on this beast before. Unlike most vehicles, the engine of a 1984 Toyota van sits under the front seats, making it a bitch to work on. Furthermore, Ralph Nader would have kittens if he ever took a close look at this thing. A vehicle like this is not only unsafe at any speed, but probably even deadly while stationary. In a head-on collision with something heavier than a BMX bike, it would light up like a flaming Christmas tree.

A scowling mechanic jumped in the van and drove it into the depths of the complex, leaving me to sign the paperwork. I'd need a rental vehicle. The cheapest one was $25 a day. I grudgingly signed off on what sure to become a gigantic repair bill and headed outside to see what jalopy I'd be driving for the next few days.




Outside a 2004 Corolla awaited. Unlike the van, there was no mold growing in the cracks of its windows. It looked like an undiscovered Greek god. This wasn't a car, it was a 1,000 pound metal temptress.

To be continued...

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