Sunday, October 25, 2009
Between cleaning a jam-packed, spider-infested garage, sorting through boxes of old bank statements, correspondence, notes from Toastmaster Speeches, and junk mail, I have been trying to get my dad's 1967 Charger out of the garage. Yes, I said 1967. He bought it new when I was a little girl. Don't tell my mom, but I knew about the car before she did. Dad took me, not Mom, to Stanley Dodge on the National City Mile of Cars. He asked me to I choose the interior color. I remember it as if it was yesterday... but that's another story.
The Charger will be coming to Toledo. We arranged for transport. The only catch is that it must be able to drive onto the transport rig. It had no gas and the locking gas cap would not come off. I had a locksmith out and we got the gas cap off. One problem solved, so I call the auto club for assistance.
“I need gas, some air in the tires, and the battery checked,” I told the dispatcher. “It’s a ‘67 Charger.”
Silence. “Did you say 2007 Charger?”
“No, 1967 Charger.” Emphasis on the nineteen.
“Oh! Oh my!”
I love it when people react that way about the car.
Thirty minutes later a young man arrived driving a shiny white truck with AAA Towing & Roadside Assistance painted in big red letters on the sides. He put a couple of gallons of gas in the tank, added air to the tires, and checked the battery.
He installed the battery, and then asked me to crank the engine. The big engine rumbled and started after a few tries, but then it died.
“Could it be that the gas hasn’t gotten to the engine yet?” I asked, while still sitting behind the wheel.
“Try it again,” he said.
I turned the key and pressed the gas pedal. The ignition revved and the engine rumbled for a few seconds. The young man took the air filter cover off. Before I realized what he was doing he poured gasoline directly on the carburetor. Red, orange, and blue flames erupted from the engine. I immediately released the gas pedal and turned of the ignition.
“FIRE!” I shouted, jumping from the driver’s seat. “Fire! Where’s your fire extinguisher?”
For an instant, he gaped at the flames in seeming disbelief.
“Fire extinguisher!” I shouted. “Look what you did to my dad’s car. FIRE!
He scuttled to his truck, running to and fro, to the back, behind the front seat, the side, tossing things and muttering as he went.
Call 911. I told myself.
I retreated from the garage and pulled my cell phone from my jeans pocket. As I was pressing the panic button on my cell phone, he rushed by, a bottle of drinking water in his hands. He tossed the water on the carburetor, dousing the fire.
Disaster averted. I have nothing good to say about that roadside assistance. Suffice to say the Charger is all right, the house wasn’t burned, and I came out unscathed, at least physically.
But that’s not the end of my experiences with this towing company. As it turned out, the Charger needed a new fuel pump and some work on the transmission. Bottom line, I needed it towed to a mechanic. I called AAA again. This time I said, “Don’t send that company.”
“In your area that’s the only towing company we have.” He said. “You don’t really have a choice. I’ll make a note for them to be very careful.”
With misgivings I reassured myself it would be a different driver and a flat bed truck.
When he came and started loading the Charger onto the truck, I never took my eyes off him.
Things seemed to be going well, I thought. We’re making progress. With a twist of the front wheels the truck lurched forward.
(To Be Continued)