Tag Archives: car

When it rains, it pours

Well, you know what they say, when it rains, it pours. Like I just got pulled over a few weeks ago for speeding. And when I gave the traffic cop my license, he ran in it his computer and came back, “Hey buddy, looks like you have a bunch of outstanding parking tickets.” And I just said to him, “Well, when it rains, it pours.” And he said, “Yep,” and then he impounded my car.


We were on the middle of the highway, and I asked him, “Hey officer, do you think you could give me a ride back into town?” and he said, “Well, I’m really not supposed to, but I guess, yeah, all right, you sure there’s nobody that can come and pick you up?” and I said, “No man, I think I accidentally left my phone in the car. Any way you could call up the tow truck and tell them to come back with my car so I can look for my phone?” And he was like, “No way man, just hop in.”

And he wouldn’t let me sit in the front, which, I guess I can understand, that’s his office, he was doing me a favor, he probably didn’t want to have to share his personal space, having me getting too cozy up front. But still, it felt weird sitting behind that glass partition, like I was some sort of a criminal. And I was just about to say to myself, wow, talk about raining and pouring, but I didn’t have time to coalesce my loose thoughts into a complete sentence, because the police radio started going off, the dispatcher shouting out all of these codes, the cop up front yelled to me, “Hang on!” and he hit it, the sirens, the lights, we made an abrupt U-turn and gunned it.

I could tell something huge was up, because all of these other cop cars started joining us, all of us headed in pursuit toward the same direction. I wanted to ask what was going on, but the cop was pretty busy, he was talking into his car radio, and then into another walkie-talkie on the side, all of it in this indecipherable police language of letters and numbers. I looked down at my watch. I was supposed to be at work right now, and my boss already gave me a huge speech about showing up on time. Would I even be able to explain something like this? I could already hear him cutting me off halfway, telling me all about how he’s not interested in excuses.

When it rains it pours, right? Right, but even though it felt like it was pouring, this wasn’t even a light drizzle yet. Because we pulled up to the factory warehouse type building far away from any part of the city I’ve ever been to, and there were like a ton of cop cars there, all of them sirens on, every officer standing by his or her driver’s side door, waiting to make a move.

I guess it could have been worse. By the time we arrived, most of the action must have already gone down. So I’m glad I didn’t have to be there for anything violent. Still, I did kind of wonder what was taking so long, how much more time I’d have to spend in this backseat. And of course the car door wouldn’t open up from the inside. And finally after like forty or fifty minutes, I started to feel really cooped up in there, like I just wanted to stretch my legs, take a breath of fresh air. I knocked on the window but my cop either couldn’t hear me or he was ignoring me. I kept knocking, and after thirty seconds or so, another cop from another car took out his nightstick and hit it against the window, mouthing me to, “Shut the hell up!”

He had it all wrong, I wasn’t the bad guy here. Sure, I wasn’t completely off the hook, I mean, there was the whole issue of those unpaid parking tickets and my car being in some impound lot somewhere. There was that, yeah. But I wasn’t under arrest. If only I could get that cop’s attention again, maybe I could mouth to him something like, “You’ve got it all wrong.” But when it rains, it pours, you know? So that didn’t work. Now everybody was ignoring me.

Maybe an hour or so later, all of these cops started coming out of the building leading all of these obviously bad guys with their hands cuffed behind their backs. One after the other, there had to have been close to fifty men. Were they gang members? Was this some sort of a meth lab? I had nothing to go on other than how everyone was dressed, wife-beaters and sleeve-tattoos. They weren’t good guys, that much was obvious.

Finally, the door next to me opened up, but before I had a chance to get out and see if I could maybe borrow a cell phone to call a cab to pick me up wherever it is that we were, three of those bad guys got shoved in the back with me. So there we were, four of us, it was really too tight, and then a different cop got into the driver’s seat and started driving.

“Hey!” I tried grabbing this guy’s attention, “I’m not supposed to be in here. Can you let me out? Did you talk to that other cop?” And he just ignored me. But the guys to my right, they looked pissed. One of them just kept glaring at me, like if I had any reservations about these guys being bad guys, that all went out the window when this one guy made eye contact. I was thinking, come on dude, we’re all stuck back here, and you’ve still got to act like a crazy bad guy? Can’t you just give it a rest for like one second?

And then they threw us all in a holding cell, all while I tried to grab anybody’s attention, “Please,” I was begging anybody who passed me in the hallway, “This isn’t right. This is all a huge mistake.” But nobody paid any attention. Not until I got to where they book people. They took everything out of my pockets, my wallet, my cell phone. Fuck. My cell phone was right there the whole time. How did I miss it?

“I’m telling you, I got pulled over, my car got towed, and the officer was giving me a ride back into town. I promise, I had nothing to do with that bust or whatever it was.”

And finally the booking officer at least acknowledged me. He didn’t look at me, but he said to me, “That’s too bad kid. But the judge isn’t back until tomorrow. So you’ve got to hang tight until we can get this all straightened out.”

And it was crazy, this was absolutely nuts. And then when it was my turn to make my phone call, I connected with my boss for like a second, I wanted to tell him to call my wife, to send for help, something. But the line got disconnected right after he said, “Hello?” and I was like, “Hello? Hello?” and I looked to the officer watching the phones and said, “It dropped. The call went dead. I’m not supposed to be here. Can I have another quarter?”

And he just looked at me and said, “Nope.”

And I don’t have to say it again, right? The raining and pouring thing. But it’s true. It’s absolutely true. I can’t think of any other cliché phrase that more accurately describes what was going on.

I’m very fast

I can run really fast, faster than that guy over there, but I don’t want to get into it with him, like, I can’t just start racing him, there’d be a question of a fixed start, of me having had that advantage of knowing that we were racing. Whatever, I’m not going to go over and challenge him to a race. But I want to. Because I see him running his laps, I know, he’s probably not giving it his all, but just based on his form, I can get a good mental picture of what this guy looks like when he’s at a full sprint, and I’m pretty sure I can take him.


I could take most runners in a race. I could take most cyclists, too. Me on foot and anybody else on a bike. And yeah, there’s a lot more that goes into it than just speed, there’s the question of, for example, is the cyclist riding on a flat surface? Because if it’s going downhill, I can’t really compete with gravity. Also, how long is the race? Because if you’re looking long haul, big picture, again, I’d have to give it to the bike. But just like a quarter of a mile? A really flat one hundred meters? I think I could do it.

Not like professional bikers, mind you. I’m just talking regular bikers. What does that mean? Like no specialized biking gear, like matching shorts and biking shirts or anything like that. Also, if you have one of those five thousand dollar bikes, take it man, you could probably beat me on foot. But put me on that bike, even the scores a little, and I’d totally win.

I think that, under the right circumstances, I could beat a car. Very limited circumstances. I’m thinking specifically of the on-ramp to the Queensboro Bridge. It’s really steep, very short, and there’s a pedestrian lane right alongside. If I could somehow get my muscles to just start pounding out one hundred percent efficiency, yes, it would only be for the briefest amount of time, but I’m convinced that I could do it.

Again, no performance cars, OK. It has to be a model ideally from the mid to late 1990s, something with good but not great fuel efficiency. And I’m not looking for bumper-to-bumper traffic, but just some regular traffic, just so the driver has to do a little more than simply gun it up that ramp, just a few other drivers, some very mild obstacles. I’d totally do it. I could totally run faster than that car. I’m really a very fast runner.

My 1991 Dodge Stealth

As far back as my memories take me, I always wanted a car. When I got my first restaurant job at fourteen years old, the only thing that truly motivated me to work every Friday and Saturday night was the idea that, if I saved up enough money, I’d be able to make it happen, I’d somehow have enough to buy my own set of wheels.


It wasn’t just about buying a vehicle, it was the independence that came along with it. For the first two and a half years of high school, I was stuck riding the bus. I felt pathetic, standing at this random street corner in my Catholic school business casual dress code, waiting around in the cold with a bunch of upperclassmen from my town that were too cool to be caught interacting with me.

When I was a freshman, the juniors and seniors that rode the bus to school in the morning were anything but cool. They were a bunch of bullies. They’d make us play this game called red light. Basically, you start at the front of the bus and you have to run to the back, touch the red light near the emergency exit, and make it back to your seat, all while this group of sixteen and seventeen year old dweebs gave you dead arms and noogies.

I wanted nothing to do with any of that nonsense. And so I did it, I put enough money away that well before my seventeenth birthday came around, I had enough to buy my own car. There was this house a few blocks down with a red sports car parked in front marked with a “For Sale” sign. I needed it.

My dad came with me to do the negotiating. I found out that it was a 1991 Dodge Stealth, not that I’d ever heard of that model before going to check out this particular car. The seller and his wife gave us their pitch, there was some back-and-forth between the adults about prices and taxes and … to be honest, I have no idea what they were saying. I was just staring into the front seat, imagining myself shifting gears and outrunning cops on the highway. I knew it, that I was going to buy this car. I would have paid everything that I had.

This was all a few months before I was legally licensed to drive, so for a while I had to be content just to look at this thing in my parents’ driveway. I’d sit in the driver’s seat and listen to the radio. I bought a pair of black fuzzy dice for the rearview mirror. It was everything I’d ever wanted in life, right there.

And then I turned seventeen and I started driving to school, to work, to get McDonald’s, to buy CDs. But with great power comes great responsibility. Like the responsibility to start paying for repairs and stuff. After a month or so, one of the power windows died. So that was like two hundred bucks. And then the exhaust system needed to be replaced.

Then there was a little fender bender, and something about a radiator. I think I’ve forced myself to forget the specifics, because it started quickly eating away at my cash reserves. But it was just like at those initial negotiations. You could have quoted me whatever estimate you wanted for a jon, I didn’t care, OK, all I cared about was that car, and I would have paid anything.

Finally after a year or so of use, the transmission started to fade. When I shifted into third gear, it would make this really loud sound, and after a while I had to skip from second to fourth. Eventually the problem got worse and I had to take it in to a transmission shop. They quoted me over a thousand to replace the whole thing. That kind of hurt. I mean, I think I could have made it work. It would have taken maybe a little loan from my folks, but I’d just work extra shifts that summer, pay them back in no time.

But I never even got the chance, because that week I wound up rear-ending some guy, smashing up the front of the Stealth. I would have sold a kidney to pay for the repairs, but nobody was willing to bankroll both the accident and the transmission. There weren’t any options. I had to junk it. They gave me three hundred bucks and then charged me like a hundred to tow it away. I tried not to cry like a little baby.

But man, it took me a long time to get over that car. For the better part of the next decade, it was a very real goal of mine to resave up all of that money and buy another Stealth, the same model, the same year, I didn’t care what else life threw at me, I needed my Dodge Stealth. But yeah, saving up all of that money isn’t as easy when you’re not in high school. I didn’t feel like working every Friday or Saturday night anymore. And now I had other stuff to pay for.

I don’t even have a car now, and there aren’t any plans to buy one in the immediate future. If and when I do have the opportunity to buy something, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be a twenty-year-old two-door coupe. So yeah, for better or worse, I’m slightly more realistic now. And thankfully my soul doesn’t pine for the Stealth with the intensity that it used to.

Still, I’d be lying if I said that I never get those dreams every now and then, the ones where I’m back at my parents’ house and I remember that I didn’t junk my Stealth, that it’s been in the garage the whole time. I spend a frustrating five or ten minutes clearing boxes and other garage junk out of the way. I find the keys and squeeze into the front seat. And as soon as I turn the ignition, I wake up in my bed, the hairs on my arms are standing on end as my euphoria melts into the crushing disappointment that my Stealth is long gone, that I’ll probably never feel as cool as I did that year when I turned seventeen.

Gas station co-op

“Fill me up with regular,” I told the guy working the pump. Normally I never get full-serve gas. I mean, I know how to work the pump. It’s ridiculous to make someone else get out there and do it for you. But there was a line behind pump three, and the positioning of my gas cap … yeah, I guess I could have made it work. It would have been an awkward three-point parallel park to get over to the opposite side. Or I could have just waited like five minutes.


But it was freezing out, and it happened so fast, my brain’s way of justifying anything. There was a split decision, for a second I didn’t feel bad about paying those five extra cents a gallon, I pulled up at the full-serve pump and the attendant came around to take my credit card.

And again, it’s not really like full, full-serve. I’d imagine full service to be me not having to turn the car off during refueling. That’s got to be a bullshit rule, turn your ignition off while the pump’s running. What’s going to happen, an explosion? I doubt it. You’d hear about a gas station explosion, even if it only happened once in a while. You hear about every time a plane crashes, and that’s not a very common thing. So a gas station explosion, that would be big news.

Besides I’m pretty sure I’ve left the car running before. One time it was really cold out and I knew that if you used pump eight, the handle still had that little lock, like you could set it to pump and then go back inside the car and wait. It was great, almost like self-full-service. And yeah, I do remember it now, I left the car running, the heat on, I was listening to the radio. I must have lost track of time though, because all of the sudden the gas station guy was banging on my window, he was screaming, I couldn’t tell about what exactly, but I got out of the car and there was gas spilling everywhere, I guess the automatic shut-off wasn’t working for whatever reason, and there was this huge puddle underneath.

That was a pretty expensive mistake, something like a hundred dollars worth of gas, mostly spilled. But still, you fill up the tank and you don’t spill anything, it’s not cheap. “Sixty-seven twenty-three,” the guy handed me back my credit card and my receipt. Was it the full-service? It couldn’t have amounted to that much bigger an expense.

“There’s got to be a better way,” I looked up at the attendant. I don’t even know why I said it. I’m driving a car, I just had this guy pump my gas for me, what’s he interested in my complaints? Oh boo-hoo, you had to pay money for gas, you got sit there in your car and watch me pump it for you. And it’s freezing out here. And are you going to give me a tip? And I don’t even know, do you tip gas station guys? Sure, he’d definitely accept it, but is that a thing?

He was surprisingly sympathetic. He looked me in the eye and said, “There is a better way. You interested?”

“Of course I’m interested,” I said, and he told me to follow him inside the little gas station attendant’s booth.

“A gas station co-op?” I didn’t really understand it. I mean, I understand what a co-op is, you know, for food, for groceries. They have one a little further downtown, where people have to put in a little time at the grocery store, shelving boxes, running the register. I’ve never been, but I heard it’s something about organic produce, a lot of raw stuff … to be perfectly honest, I don’t get the appeal. But people love it.

“So you work the pump for like two hours a week, and then you get fifteen cents off of every gallon as long as you stay in good standing with the co-op.” He looked at me, he definitely had that look like, I got him, I’m totally getting this guy to sign up for the co-op. They must have had some referral program, because, even though this guy clearly wasn’t a natural salesman, I could still see that glint in his eye, the promise of welcoming someone else into the fold.

“I don’t know,” I was getting a little cold in the booth, “I’ll think about it.” Which definitely meant no, and he could see it too, because his face got visibly frustrated. I couldn’t tell if, you know, he might make one more play to get me to stay. He looked like he was about to say something else, but then his head turned abruptly and he ran out of the booth.

Apparently he must have forgotten to take the pump out of my car. And also apparently, I must have forgotten to shift the car into park. Because it started rolling, very, very slowly, backward. He fiddled with the driver’s side door, to get to the brakes, but it was locked, and that pump started stretching, a little bit more, I wasn’t reacting as fast as he was, and then it snapped, gas everywhere, they had to shut off the master pump to stop it from pouring out.

“What the hell man?” he said to me, and all I could see in my head was some owner coming over to the station, screaming at me, all of that lost gas, plus all of the lost sales from having to shut the place down for the rest of the day.

“What the hell to you?” I said in defense, “You were the one who left the pump in the car. You told me to follow you inside. That’s on you, man.”

And I could tell that he was angry, he was frustrated, but that same whatever it was that prevented him from really selling me on the co-op, it was also hindering him from really articulating any more of a fight. He just stood there, staring at me, he looked increasingly more pissed, I worried that he might do something desperate.

I said, “Hey man, you know what? I’m thinking about that co-op. Here’s my number. Once you get this whole pump business fixed, just give me a ring, I’m in.”

And yeah, that worked a little bit. His face didn’t get any more relaxed, but it stopped twisting into as big of a grimace. He didn’t offer any resistance as I took the pump handle out of my car, screwed on the cap and drove away. I could see him in my rearview mirror, holding that piece of paper on which I wrote my number.

But it wasn’t my number. I wrote down the number for the deli across town. Because fuck that, I’m not working for some gas co-op. That just sounds crazy. No thanks, I’ll pay the fifteen extra cents a gallon. Of course I can’t go back to that gas station for a while. And I’m never doing full-service again. I’m telling you, that’s bad news, all right? You just get out, or you wait for a pump, and you do it yourself. Unless you’re in New Jersey, where self-service is mandated by law. But fuck that too, get out of Jersey fast, you never know when Chris Christie is going to shut down another bridge and make it a real headache for you to get back to New York.

I’m committed to this community

I’m committed to being a positive asset to this community, which is why I’m apologizing, I’m really sorry I knocked into your mailbox. And, you know, just think, there was damage to my car also, not that it’s any consolation or anything, I can’t imagine a baseball sized dent on my rear fender would somehow make things a little better for you, but I don’t want you to think that I was taking aim at your property, at you. I’ve just got to get used to this driveway, it’s like, I could have sworn I had it, the angle looked great. You should see the inside of my dash, it’s got one of those rear-facing cameras.


But it’s not important. If anything, I think we both learned a valuable lesson here, that you really can’t rely solely on those cameras. Even though, yes, it clearly says, “Check your surroundings. DO NOT rely solely on this camera,” but come on, of course you’re going to rely solely on the camera. Why have a giant display if not to focus totally on what’s happening on the screen? Am I supposed to somehow crane my neck to get the real view, all while bending toward the front every once in a while just to use the camera as a backup?

What if that mailbox were a little kid? I’m getting ahead of myself. But, like I said, lesson learned, from now on I’m not even going to pay attention to the camera at all, in fact, I’m covering it up with tape. No, I’ll paint it over, just so that way there won’t be any turning back. Because I’m serious about being a good neighbor. I’m serious about that whole commitment to community thing.

Like, I made you this cake. It was supposed to be one part, “I’m sorry for destroying your mailbox,” one part, “I’m serious about my commitment to this community,” and a final part, “No reason, just thought I’d make you a cake.” I even wrote out “Community” in homemade vanilla buttercream frosting. But on my way over to your place, well, I guess this is a testament to what a clean house you keep, but I couldn’t tell that your sliding door was closed, there was seriously no glare whatsoever in the glass, and the cake wound up getting smashed.

And yeah, that doesn’t by itself sound like too much of a big deal, but when I went to find a hose or something to start cleaning it up, I wound up picking up this rake that you had leaning against the house, I don’t know, I thought there might be a faucet in that half foot or so of space you have in between the siding and that big central air box. Look, I’m cutting to the chase here, I swung around with the rake and …

Well, look at the bright side, at least you don’t have to worry about getting the buttercream off of that glass right? Haha. But seriously, I’m very sorry. That’s why I figured I’d start off with the mailbox, which I’m hoping might soften the blow somewhat for the glass. Like if I went straight to the broken sliding door, yeah, I’ll admit it, that’s huge, that’s a hassle, even if you do get a good price on glass, they’re not going to be able to replace that thing until Monday, at least.

Which is why what I’m about to tell you next won’t even seem like a big deal at all in comparison. It’s almost like a joke really, I mean, you’ve got a good sense of humor, right? Well, after I broke the glass, I just kind of reacted, like sprung into action, but I wasn’t thinking, not really, I was thinking about helping, obviously, but not about how I was going to help. It was mostly just pure instinct, a instinct of assistance, and I got hung up on the concept, the word, helping, totally out of context.

What I’m saying is, I stepped all over the cake, I walked into your house, I don’t know why, I thought I’d find a dustpan or a broom or some paper towels, but I think I just made a bigger mess. And then your dog ran out. But he’s chipped, right? Chipped. You know, where they tag the dog with a chip in case he runs away?

Look, I make great flyers. We’ll have that dog back in no time. Seriously, I’m pretty good at the Internet, and I’ll try to get like a viral campaign going, everyone’s going to be looking for that dog. And while I’m at it, I’ll launch a Kickstarter to help you raise funds for that glass, and the mailbox. And can I use your Internet? They haven’t hooked it up in my house yet, and I can’t figure out where I put my phone charger.

It’s just, listen, I know this is an incredibly awkward way to start off this relationship. My name’s Rob, by the way. But I just want to let you know that I’m committed, absolutely committed to becoming an integral part of this community, a force for positivity, someone that people look to and think, wow, that guy is such a great addition to the neighborhood.