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I took my electronically fuel injected Biscayne for a ride. Isn’t technology, grand, I thought? Here I am driving a 40-year-old sled powered by an all-aluminum, 557hp engine that is virtually ageless.
I never arrived at my destination. A few miles down the road, the motor quit running and I couldn’t get it going again. I thought it was low on fuel. The tank has a sump that wasn’t installed exactly right. The outfit that changed it makes fuel pumps and ancillaries and should have known better. When the fuel can’t reach the line, the pump sucks air and that’s all she wrote. Yes, isn’t technology grand?
I called my wife Terry to bring gas cans…and a car that ran. We went to the gas station a couple of times until the tank would accept no more, as it was literally running out the filler neck. Still no fuel pressure. Aha! What a great time to use my new AAA card. I’ll just call those dudes and have them do their best to get me safely off the road. Actually, Terry made the call, so she was required to be there when the tow truck arrived. She had made other plans and didn’t want to hang around until “help” arrived. On top of this, both our cards had expired, but she’d already paid the dues.
Meanwhile, the contracted tow truck driver arrived, wearing a frown and a cigarette butt.. “Can’t take this car because it’s lowered and has oversize wheels and tires. You shoulda read the contract. I can’t take it,” he growled. “And your card’s expired, bud.” Hmm, I thought, isn’t this car exactly why I got AAA in the first place? More jabbering with the unrelenting weasel-faced driver. I decided that they should have sent a flatbed instead. Driver One called for the next truck, started his up his diesel and rattled on down the road. The fun was just getting started.
In a little while, the flatbed arrived. Before I could open my mouth, the first thing out the corpulent driver’s yap was “I can’t put that on the truck. It’s got big wheels and it’s lowered. Can’t do it. Won’t do it. I got my ass in a sling pulling a car like this. It cost me money, bud, and I’m not letting that happen again.” I tried to reason with him, using a Corvette as an example of a low car with oversize tires and wheels. It’s as if he was deaf or maybe unconscious.
“Didn’t you ever snatch something like that,” I asked, hearing the exasperation in my own voice now. It was like talking to a cinder block. The guy won’t cop to it and kept repeating the problem he had the last time something like this had happened. Same words, same story, like he’d rehearsed it so he could pickle in his silly anger and let it eat him like acid.
I must add that the women I spoke to at AAA headquarters were extremely courteous and very efficient and they didn’t tell me fibs about how long it would take for the truck(s) to arrive. Right about then, my neighbor Alice was coming the other way in her van. She saw me and pulled to the side. We chatted. She said, “To hell with them. I’ll get a rope and tow you to the house [about 2 miles away].” Her master mechanic husband Kit is my go-to man when it comes to make things run the way they should and for systematically eliminating the probable causes. I’d already called him to make sure it was cool to drop the car by his backyard garage. I told her I’d wait for the final act and call her if I needed help.
Driver Two sat in his air conditioned cabin and molested his cigarette while I stood in the direct sun, apparently in the territory of fire ants. They made me skip from one side of the road to the other to escape their debilitating, painful, poisonous mandibles. Sweat rolled down my ribs and dripped into my eyes.
Driver Two rolled the window down and told me that he’d called his supervisor, who would be along shortly. “Tellin’ you, though, we can’t take this car.” I was getting a little unraveled now and I wanted to spit, so I sent a lunger pin wheeling in his general direction. Because I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere soon, I called AAA dispatch and gave them my name and card number.
Ten minutes passed. The super arrived…with a smile on his face. I related the incident in front of the Driver Two, asking about customer relations and mentioning that he had displayed none. The super, Ray Bravo, was right on the money. He asked Driver Two about my allegations. The guy admitted to the discourse. Ray told Driver Two to watch closely to see how easy it was done. Ray’s truck was equipped with the kind of lifts that enclose the front wheels and don’t come anywhere near the body. They fit the clasps and Ray hoisted the front of the Biscayne easy as pie.
He turned to the recalcitrant driver and told him to get the hell back to the yard because he was fired. By this time, Alice had returned with the rope. Ray went down the road with the Biscayne, turned the rig around, and followed us to her house. He dropped the car and we talked, drank water rather than beer, and he was off. He gave me a laminated business card and told me keep it close. “I’ll come for you again of you have any trouble. Call me, not AAA.” Then he drove off.
At home that evening, the door bell rang. It was Kit with the car. “What’d you do to get it running?” I asked. “Didn’t do anything,” he said in his laconic way. “I just turned the key and it started.” Did the tow truck help in another way? Did the nose-up angle of the car as it was being towed jiggle the system somehow? I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.