Anyone who knows me knows that I drive an amazing vehicle. What makes it amazing? The fact that it still runs. I got my little pick up truck in 1990. It was brand new and the reason I got a pick up truck was because I knew we were moving to California and it would be practical to bring more stuff. Two things I’ve learned from having this truck is that first, everyone thinks that you automatically want to help them move, and second, a stick shift sucks ass in LA traffic!
A few days after I got it, I was down the Jersey shore with a couple of my friends and it was parked out front of the house we were in. I was in the bathroom when my friend Pete knocked on the door and said, “Cee your truck was just hit.” Naturally, I thought he was kidding. I went out and my other friend Pat was ready to beat the crap out of the drunk teenager who ran into it. I wanted to beat him up too, I had the truck for about 4 days! Long story short, the drunk kid’s dad didn’t want his insurance rates to go up, so he had it fixed on the side without the insurance companies getting involved. This wouldn’t be the first time I had an accident and chose to keep those greedy fuckers out of it.
The truck is the one thing that I have left since arriving in LA. Friends have come and gone, my cats are dead, but my truck is still getting me around. Granted, not very far without overheating, but if I have to go to the store, the hot rod gets me there. It’s been driven across country, all over California and handled a drunk driver on numerous occasions (which of course, it doesn’t have to anymore because the driver finally wised up). It has been an amazing vehicle. I’ve had minimal repairs and it just keeps going.
It’s also been hit four times, and not once was my fault. The scratch down the side was my fault, well actually, my friend Pete’s fault. We were driving out of my parking lot after way too much to drink and he told me I had enough room to clear a pole, and once I scraped the whole side of the truck, I knew he was drunker than me.
It was also hit from behind twice. Once I was in Beverly Hills stopped at a light. I was looking in the rearview mirror and saw these teenage girls coming towards me in a BMW. All of them were talking and I could tell the driver was much too involved in her teenage conversation to be paying attention. I knew she was going to hit me and then “BANG!” Since I saw it coming, it was actually funny to see the shocked and freaked out looks on their faces on impact. I immediately knew what I was going to do. Keep in mind, at this point, the truck was about 10 years old and was looking pretty ratty, and she didn’t do any real damage. We got out of our cars and I said, “Look, if we get the insurance companies involved, your insurance rates are gonna go up because this is your fault.” She was all freaked out and said, “What should I do?” I said, “How much cash do you have on you? Give me 50 bucks and we’ll forget about it.” She said, “Ok.” She talked to her friends who all reached into their little purses and they pooled together 50 bucks. I took the money and said in an authoritative manner, “From now on, keep your mouth shut and your eyes on the road.” What am I, a cop?
Another time, I was on my way to Blockbuster to get a movie. Remember when people did that? I was heading towards an intersection (I had the green light) and as I got closer to the intersection I saw a guy who was planning on turning right and as I crossed through it, I knew he was going to hit me, and I was right. He slammed into the back side bed of the truck. I was so pissed because just like the dumb teenager in Beverly Hills, I knew he wasn’t paying attention and nothing pisses me off more than dumb drivers. We pulled over and I lost it a little bit on him. I said “What the fuck is wrong with you? Did you not see me coming?” He said in a heavy accent “I sorry.” I had a strong feeling he might have possibly been in the country illegally because he was pretty freaked out, and lucky for him he didn’t take off because I would have chased his ass down and ran him over. I again said, “Look, if we get the insurance companies involved, your insurance rates are gonna go up because this is your fault.” Of course, I figured there was a good chance he didn’t even have insurance, so I said “Give me some money.” He just looked at me. I said, “There’s an ATM machine at the 7-11 across the street. Give me 100 bucks and we’ll forget about it.” He willingly agreed.
Now personally, I see this as an act of human kindness. My brother thinks I’m an extortionist. He said I became like Rocky in the scene where he grabs the guy on the dock and says, “You wanna dance you gotta pay the band. You wanna borrow you gotta pay the man. Now gimme some money.”
You see, it’s all about perception. I could have made things a lot worse for either one of those people, but I let them off easy with a cash settlement (and I asked for a lot less than it would have cost to have it fixed). The reason I did this was because I knew I wasn’t going to bother to have the dent fixed, but it just pissed me off that people don’t pay attention when they drive. There are so many bad, dumb, inconsiderate drivers in this city and I’m sick of dealing with them, so if one of those morons hits me and it’s their fault, they should pay me for having to share the road with them.
But the truck is falling apart, literally. The knob on this stick shift just comes off in my hand while switching gears sometimes. I have this ridiculous rearview mirror that some idiot at a mechanic shop convinced me to put on when the original one fell off. It wobbles constantly so when looking through it at what’s behind me, everything is shaking. I can’t get out of the driver’s side by opening it from the inside, so every time I get out, I have to roll down the window and open it from the outside. The springs are practically coming through the seat, which are covered by a blanket and my license plate is held on with a trash tie. Did I mention it has a cassette player? Bring all your 80’s cassettes and let’s go four-wheelin’! Except for the fact that one of the speakers is blown and it’s not four-wheel drive. The gas guage and mileage guage broke a long time ago. Oh, it’s a sweet ride! Until I got new shocks about 6 months ago, I was changing lanes whether I wanted to or not; it was bouncing all over the road. And it’s never had air conditioning. Do you have any idea what summer in the valley is like in a car without air conditioning? Imagine driving an oven that has four wheels and a stick shift (and a cassette player).
But I love that truck. I don’t want to get rid of it, but it looks like I will be selling it soon. I would love to have it end its life in one of those smash derbys. I don’t know the technical name. I saw it on Happy Days years ago. You just drive cars into each other, it’s like roller derby but with cars? I would also love to keep it and have it fixed up; in other words, I’d like to have someone pimp my ride. They could put a hot tub in the back part of it, and the wheels could spin and what not. Maybe some flames down the side, who knows? The possibilities are endless…
After driving the Hot Rod for so long, I know now that I need a car that’s an automatic, has air conditioning and goes from 0-100 in 5 seconds…and has a cassette player of course 🙂