Adventures in Driving an Old Car

A bright and wonderful Monday morning to all my avid readers. Well, as per usual, it is raining in West Virginia and the day is overcast and hot. Ironically, I turned down a job at in Seattle, WA a few months back because I couldn't bear living in a place where it rained practically all the time and look weh happen to me now!

Anyhow, I took my car to the mechanic this morning. She's a 93 Dodge Colt and her name is Mitsy. Now, some of you may recognize this car as a Mitsubishi Mirage (hence the name Mitsy) or an [shudder]Eagle Summit[/shudder]. Well, I've had her for about a year now and she and I have turned quite a few revs--however, she is a very sickly car and every now and then I find myself taking her to the mechan...errr Doctor. Today she's in the shop for a slight Oxygen Sensor infection, nothing too major and I could've taken care of it myself except that the bloody part was $125 and I had no way of resetting the computer anyway.

In the past year my darling car has had a transmission blow out [she's a matic] due to a leak in the radiator. See the way my engine is designed, transmission fluid gets passed into the radiator to cool down and it turns out that there was a crack in the radiator that cause fluid to seep slowly out of the transmission over time, hence resulting in the clutches inside the gearbox overheating and fusing together. In effect, even if the car was in neutral, it still had the ability to move forward. Now, the problem is that reverse was also fused with the rest of the gears, so I couldn't go backwards. Does any of you know how hard it is to parallel park without reverse? if not, ask me!

Aside from not being able to parallel park, I was pretty cool with not having reverse. West Virginia is a hilly state and, more often that not, it wasn't very difficult to find a spot with a slight incline that would allow me to pull the handbrake down and roll out of the spot...that was one of the perks of working at NASA at the time, most of the spots were on a hill and there were very few cars in the complex when I was leaving in the evening. Whenever I went out with my girlfriend, I used to get her to steer the car while I pushed it out of the parking spot.

There were some occassions when I couldn't find a slope to park on and my girlfriend wasn't around to steer, so I had to rely on my strength and agility honed by many years of riding on the Jamaican bus system [circa early-mid 1990s]. The MO was usually to get out and rock the car back and forth till it started to move, hop in as fast as possible and control the car and voila! one car instantly out of a parking spot.

Now, most times than not, the above-mentioned would actually work--however, there were a few occassions when the car almost killed me. The most memorable event was one morning when I had parked in a spot behind my apartment. Well, I woke up and began to push the car and it was fine...until I hit the sharp slope that I had totally forgotten about! Well, I saw car accelarating, I saw lightpost behind car and [gasp]I saw policeman coming up the road[/gasp]. Well, without thinking, I ran into the car, dived through the open door and pulled up the emergency brake right quick! Now, I'm about 5'9" and weigh 200+ lbs on a good day, so can you imagine the sight of someone my size lying with my head on the passenger's seat, my right leg wrapped around the driver's side head rest and my left leg dangling out of the car? Wish I had a camera to capture that moment! Thank God I only ended up with a sore back and nothing more serious!

Now, I don't want to be bad-mouthing Mitsy too much because the truth is that she has never left me stranded anywhere before--she does break down, but whenever the breakdown occurs, she usually takes me as close enough to help as possible! She's never broken down on the Interstate with me, she's nice enough to break down before I hit the freeway! Now, I really love this car, and I must admit that she has cost me a pretty penny here and there, but we get along great and she gets me from Point A to Point B. Sadly, my uncle is insisting that I forget about my beloved Mitsy and buy myself a Honda...I will, because I do like to drive in style in a super-reliable car, but I'll try to hold on to my Mitsy as long as possible--I love you baby...