….Or, Learning from embarrassing moments in your life.
Back in the late 80’s when my kids were still young, I purchased an old, off white, Volkswagon bug, maybe a ’68?, ’69?, that had been sitting for a very long time in my friend Phyllis’ yard.
I loved Phyllis. She had been a great friend to me and every time she saw me, she’d say, “Shirleymaaaay, how you doing?” She has been gone now for about four or five years and I miss seeing and talking to her every once in a while.
Anyway, because it had been sitting for so long, I once asked her if she’d be interested in selling it to me. At first she didn’t want to. You know how it is, the selling to the friend and all the negative crap that can happen because of it and besides, she wasn’t really sure if she wanted to part with it. Finally, she allowed me to buy it from her for the grand price of $25.00.
There were quite a few things wrong with it. The gas peddle was frozen, the front end was a little crushed and the hood wouldn’t close properly, the fenders needed replacing and a few other miner things here and there.
Before I bought it, I talked it over with Larry, my boyfriend at the time, who just happened to be a mechanic, and he told me that he could probably get it running so I bought it.
The first thing we, (Larry), had to do was get the gas peddle unstuck because Phyllis and Jay, (Phyllis’ husband), wanted it off their property, now that it was no longer theirs.
Totally understandable, right?
So Larry set to task. I will set the scene. First of all, it was at night, after eight and therefore very dark. So everything Larry was doing to get my bug driveable was being done under the light of one of those one bulbed, hanging lights that mechanics use when they’re working under the hood of a car.
God Bless him, he sprayed a ton of that degreaser stuff on the shaft? of the gas peddle so that he could get it to move up and down.
At first I wasn’t too sure whether it would work but it eventually did. Once Larry got the gas peddle to function, they put a little gas in the bug to see if it would start. I can’t even remember now whether they had to jump start it or whether the ignition switch worked or not but it did start with a little sputtering.
All we wanted to do was get it running so that we could get it to my apartment and do what ever else it needed to be road worthy.
I was so happy and excited that the bug was running. Now to get it to my apartment. I do believe it was Phyllis’ cousin who drove the bug. Larry drove his pickup with me and, I can’t remember if my kids were there that night or not, and Jay drove his truck over to my apartment.
Larry and Jay let the cousin drive the bug in between their vehicles so that he would be less likely to be spotted by and stopped by the police for driving an illegal vehicle on the road.
Oh my Gosh, the chances we took. I really doubt that I would ever do anything like that again.
So now, here I have this broken down bug sitting in the parking lot at the apartment complex where I live, and, this is where Larry intends to do all of the work on it that needs to get done before I can register or insure it. And, one more thing to add to the mix, working on automobiles in our parking lots, is not allowed.
It’s in the lease if you are caught working on cars in the parking lots, you can be evicted. Ugh, the stress of it all.
Before the bug could be put on the road, we ended up replacing brakes, (shoes, master and lines), the ignition, two, blue, front fenders, (from the junk yard which is another whole story in itself), and we pulled up the hood enough so it wouldn’t scrape and bounce as I drove.
As many of you can deduct by now, this little car of mine was quite a piece of work. And believe it or not, just getting it to be road worthy was not the end of the trials and tribulations with it.
For instance, there was the time that I picked up Adam and Katie from school and after hitting one of the bumps in the road, the hood slammed against the horn and it blew all the way back to our apartment, getting the attention of every person walking on the sidewalk, all the way home. The kids were so embarrassed that they ducked down to the floor until we got home.
Then there was the time that I parked at the convenience store, left the kids in the car while I quickly was running in for something, the gearshift jumped out of park and it rolled into another car. I heard a bump, turned around and saw it all happen and ran back to my car. The kids were okay and a woman was walking toward me, saying in a nasilly tone, “hey lady, your car rolled”.
Also, the time that the kids and I were going home after bowling. It had snowed and the bottom of my feet were slippery. When I went to start my car, my foot slipped over the top of the clutch peddle and the peddle fell backwards to the floor and the car jumped forward over the curb.
And still, one more time, we were coming across the Memorial Bridge from Springfield and hit a bump at the end. All of a sudden the car seemed to get much louder. I asked, “does it sound louder to you?” It was louder, we had lost part of the tailpipe from the exhaust at the end of the bridge.
Ah, and the best yet, was the time that the three men mentioned above had pushed the car clear around the entire circle at the apartment complex where I live, trying to jump start it.
The car would not start and they could not figure out why….that is until someone thought to look and see if the battery had been reconnected. It had not been reconnected and better yet, the battery had never even been put back in the car.
Oh my goodness, the things I went through with that car. My poor kids too, the things they had to put up with. It was a different time and I was a different person. When I think now all the things that could have happened to us in that little car….we were so lucky that nothing really bad ever happened to us.
Maya Angelou used to say, “When you know better, you do better.”
Thank you for reading.