I made it home from work tonight.
That may not sound like a great accomplishment, but consider the fact that my car was rear-ended by a drunk lunatic in a rainstorm about 2 years ago, and after finding out that my expensive insurance didn’t cover the damage (because I didn’t get a license number), I let the car sit at the curb like a sad, crumpled loser for about a year until I got a job I had to drive to, at which time I yanked the collapsed wheel well away from the tire, sawed off the part of the bumper that was hanging down on to the ground, and drove the thing to work.
That’s one long-ass run-on sentence, I know, but it’s been a long-ass run-on couple of years.
And I’ve been driving the mighty 1985 Honda Accord the 60 mile round trip to work every day in this pitiful condition. You can pretty much take a wrecking ball to a Honda, as it turns out, and the thing will still run. This is my third or fourth Honda and they have all clung to life long past their prime.
The problem with this one was that it wouldn’t pass the smog check after it was smashed. So rather than pay the $600 for a rebuilt carburetor and tweaking required to pass the smog check, I just drove it with expired tabs. The registration expired a year ago, and I only got nabbed by the highway patrol twice. The first time I kind of forgot about the ticket and since they frown on that kind of thing my license was suspended and I had to pay a $500 fine.
If you’re clever this is where you notice that I could have spent just about the same sum of money earlier on repairs and avoided the ticket. Well, it’s easy to be clever, but it’s hard to get by, so I paid the ticket and kept driving the car.
Then last Friday the highway patrol got me again. I think the officer pitied me, or thought I was insane, because he didn’t impound the car, though they have that option six months after the registration expires. The truth is he probably didn’t want to deal with the pile of crap, or was afraid that if they hooked it up to a tow truck it would fall apart before they got it to the impound lot.
Anyway, I made it home from work tonight after more than a year of watching for the boys out the window, side mirror, rear view mirror, eyes in the back of my head, etc. it’s very stressful driving a dangerous, illegal vehicle around Los Angeles.
But I put about 15,000 miles on that fucker after most sensible people would have dragged it to the junkyard. That says something disturbing about me, I suppose. But tonight I went to the bank and took out four grand (all in twenties because it was 6 o’clock Friday night and all the large bills were gone), and tomorrow I’m going to go AWOL from work for a few hours to buy this big Isuzu truck thing that has a mere 10,000 miles on a rebuilt engine.
It’s another old car, the latest in a long line of old cars. But I like old cars. I like cars with history and I like people with history and I like towns with history. Besides, I don’t think I could drive a brand new car. I’d be more nervous about getting bird shit on it than I was about being pulled over and taken to jail during the last year.
The moral of the story is; two hundred twenty dollar bills is a whole lot of twenty dollar bills. The guy I’m buying the Isuzu from will probably laugh at me when I whip them out. But at least no one will be laughing at my ride anymore.
Not for a few years anyway.