My dear friend The Kitchen Witch posted about her first car and had me rolling with laughter. I couldn’t help but be transported back to the many years before children and all of the crazy car stories that we had.
Sadly the best car story of all time does not belong to me. It belongs to my honey. However, I was present for the event. Therefore, I feel capable of telling the tale.
Picture 2 relatively broke college students. Pretty easy to picture right?!?! Now picture them in a big blue/gray beast. Fabric ceiling separating so that it flaps in the breeze. An air condition button that serves no purpose other than to strengthen fine motor skills. A radio that typically only tunes in AM stations – great for a gal who loves to listen to the Tigers play. A horn that’s been rewired away from the steering wheel to a switch on the dash.
For the most part, this beast served the sole purpose of transportation to and from work in our small college town. But, on occasion, it took on the overzealous task of guarding our lives through the grand city of Chicago to eventually reach Toledo, OH for a visit with my honey’s family.
For those of you who have never traveled through the windy city, much of this post will be lost on you. To say that it is a challenge is an understatement. The game Frogger comes to mind when I think of our early travels through Chicago.
Traffic in and around Chicago moves quickly. Sure speed limit signs are posted. They are more of a guideline than a law. A police officer would be committing murder/suicide to attempt to pull someone over on the I-90 tollway. The average speed is around 80mph. The old beast shuddered around 65. She could get to 70 but threatened to blow if you pushed her much further.
Car horns are a must for people going this speed. How else do you warn the guy going 90 that he is about to take your entire front end off if he changes lanes right now? Recall that I said the horn was rewired….
After nearly putting a hole in the steering wheel while trying to honk at the jackass that just cut her off, my honey finally remembers to flip the switch. Of course the guy is long gone by now. It wouldn’t have mattered if he was still there. The switch was flipped and the old beast let out something that sounded remotely like the quack of a very sick, very frail duck. If the switch was flipped off and on repeatedly you might get a sound similar to a team of ducks just taken out by buckshot.
Chicago was always within the first 1/2 hour of our journey. About 45 minutes later we would emerge on the other side. Safe and sound in Gary, IN. For the most part our journey from there was pretty uneventful. There’s really nothing to get in trouble with between Chicago and Toledo. Except the toll booths.
Who’s grand idea was it to file people into a small space like cattle then make them pay money to advance? Really it seems like you’re only asking for trouble.
So, there we were. Moments from the Indiana/Ohio border. Stuck in the cement barricades with the other roaming cattle. The rain is coming down. The wipers are going mad. And then… everything stops.
The old beast stalled. She just gave up. 2 cars in front of us to get the ticket to enter Ohio. Cement barricades lining the entire length of the vehicle. A monumental row of angry drivers behind us because, of course, this is that special Wednesday in November. The one on which all stupid people travel to see family they usually end up fighting with while stuffing themselves with dry turkey and runny stuffing. And, wouldn’t you know, every last driver had a horn that WORKED…
So, there we sat. Nowhere to go. In the ages before cell phones, so no one to call. Wanting to crawl under the fabric ceiling resting on the tops of our heads.
Suddenly, by the grace of some higher power, she decided to start back up. What felt like many hours confined to that barricade turned out to be a matter of minutes. Regardless, we moved forward and grabbed our ticket without coming to a complete stop. I’m pretty sure there were drivers passing us on the turnpike after that using some creative sign language to communicate with us.
This was not her last journey. There were others, almost as eventful. The time the electric window on the driver side wouldn’t go down so I had to pay all the tolls from the back seat… Ok, those looks from toll booth personnel were just priceless. Being chauffeured in the old beast was truly a memorable event!
Her life ended a couple of years later. She was sent to the junkyard to provide much-needed organs to lesser vehicles. But, her memory lives on, and on, and on… quack quack…