So as I was saying late last night, when my mind was delirious from lack of sleep, when I had no business typing my thoughts in that condition…I don’t care for cars that have “push to start” buttons. I feel like I’m riding in one of those cars rides they used to have at Salisbury Center up in Massachusetts. Do any of you remember those? Not the bumper cars, but the little kiddie rides with the cars, motorcycles or boats with all the lights and buttons that you pushed, resulting in all kinds of glorious buzzes and beeps. Remember those? Set up to go around and around, like a carousel? The boats always made me a bit nervous because they were actually in water. Falling in would’ve been more of an embarrassment than a life-threatening situation, since the water was only 1 or 2 feet deep, but still. I was very careful getting in and out of those suckers. I’d post a picture of those rides, but I can’t find any on the internet and the only ones we have of us kids riding them are up at my Mom’s, probably. One sticks out in memory: my older brother and I are in one of those cars and, based on the expression on my face, I was obviously squealing with glee. I loved those rides…*sigh*….
So, that’s what I am reminded of every time I drive one of those keyless-ignition cars. Since these are real cars, though, and not kiddie rides, I am not enamored with them. To me, a real car still needs to have a real key or else, I don’t want it. The reason this came up on Wednesday night, was because I drove one of those cars to our Bible study/youth group night and I mentioned, in passing, how I much preferred the old-fashioned key. Our class leader laughed as he mentioned how, back in the seventies, he’d owned a car that he had lost the key to, so he used to start it with the key-tab off of a canned ham tin! He said anyone could’ve stolen it, if they’d really wanted to, after they’d eaten canned ham, perhaps.
And so now we get to the real story; the prelude is over. When our leader mentioned his car, which was a late-70’s model something-or-other, I was reminded of my first car: a green 1977 Datsun 280Z like this:
I was so thrilled to have that car. I had moved to Birmingham, AL and quickly realized that hot, urban environments were not conducive to bicycling. Walking could only get you so far. Buses were scary or rather, the bus routes were scary. As were some of the passengers. So I found this car. It ran, looked half-decent and I was told it had brand-new tires—SOLD!! I asked Dad for some financial aid and bought it for $1600.
Now the car had its issues. The A.C. didn’t work. In order not to melt or pass out from heat exhaustion while driving, I had to turn the fan on full-blast. In the hot, humid weather, it was like driving a big, green convection oven. The passenger’s side mirror was missing. Not a good thing since this car already had lots of blind spots. One particularly troubling blind spot was the hood. If I was going up a steep hill, and Birmingham certainly has those, I couldn’t see the road in front of me over the hood! A booster seat did not help. All I could do was slow down and pray that no one had decided to lie down in the road, because there was no way I could’ve seen them. And, finally, the last major issue was the ignition switch.
One morning I went out to my car and when I turned the key, all I heard was “click.” That was somewhat inconvenient. I knew no one, could not afford to pay a mechanic, and was at a loss for what to do. Then a guardian angel appeared. Some guy, I don’t remember who he was or from where he came, said he’d take a look at it. So, he did. He had no idea how to fix what was wrong. But, he provided a solution. He asked if I had a screwdriver. I did. He popped the hood, turned the key in the ignition, touched the screwdriver to some doohickey called a solenoid and some other doohickey, and the engine roared to life! I happily thanked him and gave him $10 for showing me how to hotwire my own car and was soon on my way! I guess, in retrospect, my guardian angel was a tad shady.
Fast-forward to the prelude of my dating relationship with my Southern Man. One night after work, a bunch of us went out to dinner. I worked at a health club that was also a taekwondo school. I was a trainer; my Southern Man was a 2nd degree black belt instructor trainee. He could really whup your butt, back then. He still could now,
but would probably hurt himself in the process, as well. Anyways, after dinner, he drove me back to the parking lot where my chariot patiently awaited. By then, it was raining. We said our good-nights and I got into my car. He closed my car door and got back into his truck…and waited. A few looong seconds later, I groaned inwardly as I realized that, being a gentleman, he was waiting to make sure I was safely on my way. Mortified, I reached under my seat, grabbed my trusty screwdriver, popped the hood, got back out of the car into the pouring rain, and, as he came out of his truck with a slight “this woman is crazy!” look on his face, I sheepishly said, “I have to start my car.” He graciously started it for me, closed the hood and saw me off.
I think it was the very next day that he replaced the ignition switch. And fixed my air conditioner. And told me the car had been in a roll-over accident at one point as evidenced by bilateral cracks by the rear window frames. But, hey, it had brand-new tires! Not for long, though. The front passenger’s side had to be replaced since I was a fairly new driver and had an embarrassing habit of running over curbs on right-turns. But, that’s another story. Now, I’m hitting the “off” button and going to bed. Good-night!