Wednesday, October 19, 2011
On our way
[The following entries are being written a month after the fact. I have no excuse, other than laziness and a severe case of procrastination; story of my life. So, without further ado … ]
Bunny and I were invited to my cousin Nate's wedding on Saturday. I refuse to fly, not wanting to be treated like the guilty (TSA) sheep (airline industry) that US citizens appear to be; instead, we drove to Troy, Michigan, just north of the dazzling city of tomorrow—Detroit.
Bunny drove during the daylight hours, then I drove during the night—our goal was to drive straight through, only stopping for gas and food as required. We both figured the trip would take around twenty-two hours or so.
Bunny drove until 8:15pm, when we hit Cordele, Georgia and decided to eat dinner, gas up, and switch driving duties. The last time I was in Cordele was on December 27th, 1997. It was a Saturday, exactly half way between Christmas and New Year's Eve. I was headed towards Atlanta, Georgia to meet up with some friends to celebrate the New Year when I pulled off I-75 Northbound at exit 101. No sooner did I exit when my car stopped dead., even though the engine was still running.
I restarted the engine, gunned the gas and went nowhere. I checked behind me, and with no traffic (remember, it was the weekend between two major holidays), put the car into reverse. And the car still didn't move. I stopped the engine, placed everything in the cabin into the trunk, put the car into neutral, and tried moving the car off the road. It still didn't budge.
I walked a hundred yards or so to the nearest gas station. The attendent said that everything was pretty much closed, but he would try to get a tow truck out my way, seeing how my car was stuck in the middle of the road. By the time I walked back to the car, a police officer had shown up and was running my plates. I explained the situation to him, and he then turned to the task of scaring up a tow truck.
Over an hour later, one showed up. A flat bed truck. The police officer drove off to finish his beat. The tow truck driver then tilted the bed down in front of my car, hooked up some chains to the front wheels, and proceeded to pull the car up the bed. The wheels of my car were solidly locked into place and for a second there, I thought the front axel of the car would be pulled out.
But no, the car eventually made it onto the bed of the tow truck. He then drove the car and me to a nearby body shop. I went into the office to call my friends to have them pick me up, while the tow truck driver and the one machanic on duty attempted to get my car off the tow truck.
There was the bed, at a 45° angle, chains slacked, and the car still sitting on the bed. Between the driver and the mechanic, they figured out that the only way to get the car off the truck was to slide it off, so they slicked the bed down with oil and the car slid off.
The mechanic told me I could call him in a few days to give him time to figure out what happened. The tow truck driver then drove me to a nearby restaurant so I could wait for my friends there.
I'll spare you the details about the trip home (wherein I learned a few hard lessons about modern financial systems and just how screwed we are as individuals) but the upshot: the transmission seized up on my car. I could get a new transmission for $2,500 or a used one for $2,000. There would be a warranty on the work, but it would have to be serviced by the body shop there in Cordele, 500 miles from home. The mechanic did know of a student that needed a car and was willing to pay for the work, but really, could only just afford the transmission plus a bit more.
Not having the money myself (for the transmission and for travel expenses to retrieve the car), I sold the car to the Cordele-living student, and went on to learn a few hard lessons about modern car dealerships and living beyond one's means.
So my last time in Cordele wasn't all that great. This time, however, the car survived, and we were able to continue on our way north, with me taking on driving duties.