Thursday, March 6, 2008

Four Wheeled Chastity Belt

My Fab-Friend Shan is having babies! 3 to be exact. She has come to terms with the fact that she has to get a mini-van. This story is for her...

In high school I drove a mini van. Sure, I rode in my fair share of mini vans to and from various activities that are the fabric of middle-class suburban youth: ballet, violin lessons and acorn collecting for Burr Oaks Nature Center, but I actually piloted my own mini van my junior and senior year of high school.

It all started innocently enough; I pleaded with my father for a car. Any car. In a stroke of fatherly genius (a moment I find my dad still chuckling over from time to time) he bequeathed me the (at the time) 11 year old family mini van. This van was 5 years younger than me. One of my first memories EVER is seeing my dad role into the driveway with this beaut fresh from the dealership. And now it was mine. In all of it's maroon, extended-version, Dodge Grand Caravan glory. When I took the keys from my dad, after thanking him best I could, my first thought was "Oh well, at least it doesn't have wood paneling." Over time, the presence of wood paneling really became least of my concerns...

Let's start with the side view mirrors. There weren't any. Well, there weren't any after being in my possession for less than a week. Shortly after realizing that this wasn't a joke my father was playing on me (the kind I would find funny, anyway) I proudly took MY CAR to the car wash. And since it was an effing boat of a van and I didn't really feel like washing it myself, my local Phillips 66 car wash was just the ticket. The swelling pride of putting your first car through the car wash at the corner gas station was quickly stuffed as 30 seconds into the "wash" I heard metal crunching and tearing. Loudly. Not positive on what is going on, I slammed on the brakes. Which, I am sure would have achieved something useful if the car was on and wasn't in park. But alas, it wasn't and I quickly found myself clueless. Until I saw both of my side view mirrors being ripped off the frame of the van by the car wash's brushes. This satisfied "What the eff is making that sound?!" but at the same time created "Is this car wash systematically ripping apart my car to get to sweet human insides and eat me?!?" Yes. That is my rational train of thought. 2 minutes and a buff dry later, I ran inside to tell the attendant that his "car wash just ripped off my side view mirror."

The gas station ended up paying me over 1500 bucks to get my mirrors replaced, but I didn't. I drove that van sans side view mirrors for almost 2 years. Even passed a Missouri State Car Inspection with them missing. By the way, thank you God for making me a girl; I owe you one.

But really, who needs side view mirrors when you have a rear-view mirror and stellar peripheral vision? What really would have come in handy is 3 working doors. This van kicked it old school. There was only one sliding door and none of the doors opened or closed at the touch of a button. Good, old-fashioned arm strength had to be used when opening and closing the sliding door. That's if it wanted to open at all. Sometimes it just wouldn't budge. This could have been attributed to the fact that a regular sliding door closing "method" I used was while the was door open, accelerate down hill really fast and them slam on the breaks. Bill Nye the Science Guy taught me that inertia would take care of the rest. Oh boy, did it! It shut the door so well, in fact, that the door wouldn't open for days, weeks even, or if it was particularly cold outside.

A similar fate met my passenger side door. Younger Brother #1 was riding shotgun and when he got out of the car a freak gale force wind came and ripped the door off of it's hinges. Once closed, it wouldn't be opened again for a very long time.

So, if you're paying attention (and I won't blame you if you're not) you should now put two and two together and get that I only had one working door, and that's if you don't count the back hatch, which had to be propped up with a broomstick handle to stay open, so we won't count that.

It was the norm to expect to have to crawl in and out of the driver side door if you were wanting a ride with me. But, honestly, if you were desperate enough to need a ride from me, your shame wasn't going to suffer any worse for wear.

Among other things that were wrong with my van were:

  • No A/C
  • Windshield wipers that only worked sometimes
  • Leaked oil. A LOT
  • Would smoke if driven too fast and or for too long

Had nice rust patterns above the rear wheels, which, if far enough away might have resembled flames. So, toss up on whether that was a good or bad thing.
All in all, I honestly can't complain too much. It was a car. It was a free car that always won when I hit something. My dad seemed slightly offended when he was offered less than $500 trade in for it when we went to get me a new car. And I think the van sensed that. As we were moving the van from one end of the parking lot to the other, the passenger side headlight popped out of it socket and just dangled back and forth from it's wiring. "Take that!" it seemed to tell the dealer. And he did. For $300.


Studio P Photography said...

LOLZ @ Bill Nye's inertia sticking your door shut for weeks! And the headlight popping out on que when trading it in is effing hilarious!

Studio P Photography said...

Chris's first vehicle: a giant brown & tan cargo van. No radio (he tortured me with his portable tape player -with broken antennae- as he listened to They Might Be Giants. The lyrics to "Istanbul (not Constantiople)" are unfortuantely burned into my memory for eternity). He hit a light pole, a car in front of him and I'm sure several other things. No A/C & the heat only worked on HI so that my feet were either frozen or baked. No inbetween. Headlights didn't work on occassion. And he liked to take corners really fast & get that thing up on 2 wheels. Good times.

Stevester said...

You shoulda kept that car, it woulda looked cherry sitting by my Escort.