That's just a little something I'd like people to know about me - make me wait on you, and you will lose a whole lot of my respect. Regardless, this only minutely relates to what I will be talking about: my car.
To date I have driven five different cars that I would have at one time considered "mine." In chronological order, they are; 1988 Oldmobile Delta 88, 1988 Pontiac Firebird, 1985 Chevy Camaro, 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, and yet another Trans Am, a 1997. Now, there have been many a time that my cars have broken down. Few of the notable ones are: the 1985 Camaro across the street from the Bisbee Fire Station (Transmission finally let go) and again in the high school parking lot after my senior Prom (a starter problem), the 1997 Trans Am in the parking lot of Northpointe Apartments (fuel pump), and that same car again - today.
Today had began with me replacing the fuel filter, which I suspected was slightly clogged and was causing low power at the top end of the RPM range. I planned to make a trip to Tucson today from Bisbee in order to turn in some paperwork for the new pad I'll (hopefully) be moving into in mid-August. As I did not have a reason to do otherwise, I drove the Trans Am. I picked up my friend Cisco Corona, and proceeded to take the Tombstone route to Tucson. Shortly after Exiting onto the freeway from Benson, I passed an 18-wheeler. Only moments after accomplishing this, I felt 6th gear lose all of it's power. Putting the pedal farther down did nothing, so I suspected that there was a problem with the gear - and downshifted into 5th. Drove for a split second, then the same thing happened. 4th. 3rd. 2nd. At this point, I was barely rolling at 20 MPH and I managed to exit off at the intersection between I-10 and SR90. The car slowed to a crawl, and traffic began to pile up behind me. I hopped out of the car, and Cisco and I, pushing with approximately half of our lethargic, disappointed strength, shoved the car down the exit and onto the side of the road. Where we sat. I got out of the car and ran my hands through my hair and then down my face. Here I am, once again. Don't plan on going anywhere with me unless you've got a whole day to kill, because chances are, we aren't exactly going to make it to our destination in the fashion or time frame that is originally intended. I call my mom, who gave me the number to a tow place in Benson.
"But Don, aren't you a car guy? Why not just fix it?"
The short answer: I had an 18 inch car jack, and a simple box of regular tools. You cannot get the fuel pump out of a car with those parts unless you improvise. A lot. Like with rocks, and hammers, and those sort of things.
"The fuel pump? Didn't you just replace that in the... yeah... it says right up there - the Northpointe parking lot?"
Why yes, I certainly did. You can say that it happened because I drive that car like a Ferrari, but even so, it should have lasted a little longer than 8 months. To be sure that it was the fuel pump, I told Cisco to put his ear behind the back wheel and listen for any unusual sounds. Vrooom. AdadaAadada ah ah ah ahhhhh uhhh UHG. After the car died again, I said, "You hear that kinda "whaaaaaaa" coming from the tank?" Cisco replies, "Yeah... the thing that sounds like a dying cat?" Lol. Yes. That would be a pretty damn good description of the noise coming from that tank. So we sit for a while, sweating in the hot afternoon sun, and I try starting the car again. It runs for a while.... and keeps running, dying cat noise and all. At this point I had to make a split second decision: wait for the tow, or GO FOR IT. I chose the latter. I slowly pulled back onto the end of the exit, and got stuck behind a semi that had pulled up to the intersection only moments after my hopeful decision. It took all the time in the world to slooooooooowly m a k e t h e t u r n....... At this point I would say that I "gunned it" but I babied the poor car, accelerating evenly and not letting the RPMs above 2000 before shifting. I turn onto hwy 90, all the while believing with my whole heart that we were going to break down in the middle of the intersection, but we didn't. In hopes of getting as far toward home as possible in as little time as possible, I begin to speed, but not before, you guessed it, I see a highway patrol chillin' on the side of the road. I casually slow down to the speed limit and go unnoticed. As soon as we hit the edge of town and speed up to about 75. I called the tow company and told them I was miraculously back on the road, and that I'd call again when I broke down again in another 15 minutes or so. The lady laughed and said ok. A couple of minutes pass after I hang up, and the pump gives way once again. This time we're on a solid downslope, so I coast for a good mile or so before stopping. Confident that I will be able to limp home, I got out of the car and wandered around on the side of the road for a good ten minutes or so, then got back in and she started back up. I was once again on the road. With my masterful abilities as a driver and the mixed emotions of love and hate I felt for the car, I drove it all the way home without it dying again.
I backed it into the driveway, where it currently sits. I ordered a high performance pump after getting home in hopes that the car will not fail me again.
As I know all too well, the smell of gasoline is about as difficult to get out of your hands as the pungent aroma of onions after dicing a bunch of them without gloves.
What would you have done if your car broke down at 2:00 PM in the dry Arizona heat?