For those who didn’t read the first one, this is a continuation of a story I started here. Go ahead and get caught up. We’ll wait.
La la la.
Allrighty…when last we left our hero, he was getting into the car with a pale bald Goth and driving to Pennsylvania with only $100 for fuel and expenses…
I suppose I should take a moment and talk about the U.S.S. Funakmunkapus. This was my car. It was a 1984 Plymouth Reliant. My friends liked to accuse me of having a K car, but it was not technically a K. There was no K anywhere on my car. Before I went on the road the first time, I took the car to my mechanic, Clarence Hansford. Clarence has been doing work on our family cars for years, and he is the most reliable, trustworty and cost efficient mechanic I have ever had the pleasure of giving my hard earned money to. The only instructions I gave to Clarence before I left were “I’m taking this car on a journey that could have me driving all over the country. I want you to tell me that I can.” Two days and $450 later he did. Over the course of the next 5 years, I put that car through hell and only changed the oil once, and it ran like a charm the whole time. Once it fell apart, though, it fell apart hard.
Funky got her name during one of the many road trips during that period. It was a week when five of us decided it would be fun to drive home to Florida from Dallas (24 hour drive), stay two days, and then drive back. I’d go into detail about it, but this one is already getting too long and that trip is a story in and of itself.
There, are you happy Brooks?
I put several thousand miles on that car in a very short period, and as I stated above my idea of maintenance was emptying the ash tray every once in a while. I suppose I really shouldn’t have been surprised by what happened next.
We were about half way to Pennsylvania (yeah, we’re back on that story. Try to keep up, kids), approaching the D.C. area, when the car started to shake a little. Then it started to vibrate. Then it started to rattle. Then it started to thump. Loudly. Something, apparently, was amiss. Spud was driving at the time, and he said it felt like the alignment had gone out. Fortunately, we were near the exit that Spud’s grandmother lived off of. We figured we could pull off, get the car fixed, grab some grub at Grandma’s, and maybe leech a few bucks off of her (hey man, we were bums…the extent of which became clear later in the trip). We got the car to a Sears, and got the fixing of the car process going. They told us a front and rear end alignment was going to be 90 bucks. We had 75 left at this point. We told them to do just the front end (60 bucks) and we prayed that our leech skills would prove rewarding with Grandma.
I should mention that when we parked the car and checked out the tires, they were pointing in two different directions.
Yeah, the alignment was a wee bit off.
A few minutes after they took the car back, the mechanic working on it called us in to the shop. He wanted us to see the two front tires. What was left of them, anyway. What we were looking at was essentially a mass of wire with little shreds of rubber in between them. They were in very, very bad shape.
We asked him how much longer they would last. He laughed and told us that he wouldn’t drive down the street on them. He then began talking to us about tire prices. We had to stop him cold. Remember, we had seventy five dollars here. No way we were going to get new tires AND the alignment. Hell, we couldn’t even get two new tires.
So Spud asks the guy if they have any used tires.
He tells us they don’t sell used tires, but he does happen to have some that they had just taken off of a car. They were still in good shape, and they were almost the right size. They were a bit small, which meant we would lose some gas mileage, but we wouldn’t lose them on the interstate. It sounded pretty good. We asked him how much they would be, and he says “I’ll tell you what. You give me fifty bucks and I’ll get them both on there and do your alignment.”
Sounded pretty good to us!
We left Sears, walked around the shopping complex for about a half an hour, then went back. The mechanic waved us over, and handed us an invoice. “Now,” he said, “you go in there and tell the cashier that you need to replace the tie rods, and that you’re going to do that yourself and then bring the car back for the alignment. I’ll be outside with your car.”
Now at this point, as we are walking back towards the office, I start to freak. There were numbers written on that invoice. Big numbers. Numbers we didn’t have. Spud told me to keep my cool, though. Good thing he did. Spud walked right up there, handed the invoice over the counter, and gave our prepared speech to the cashier.
He looked down at the invoice, kind of shook his head a bit, and said “oh, well. ok. I gues we’ll see you then. Have a nice day!”
Supressing our surprised squeals of joy, we walked back outside, met the mechanic at my car, slipped him fifty bucks and drove away.
The guy did a good job, too. Car ran great.
We went to Grandma’s house. Not much to report there. She made us some tuna fish sandwiches, bitched at Spud about not calling, and refused to give us a penny. Apparently she had been through this kind of routine before with Spud, and she was having nothing to do with it again.
We’re in Washington D.C.
We have $25 dollars left.
Again I must point out what any sane person would have done. Having spent $25 to get as far as we had, the logical choice at that point would have been to turn back around and head home.
So of course we kept going.