Why does society allow someone like me who has dozens of accidents to keep driving? Another automotive adventure was with the Mazda RX-7 which we had bought from my mom. Debbie drove the car during her cancer treatment and even jumped it over some curbs somewhere when she was on morphine. After the chemotherapy, she thought the car smelled like the drugs they had injected her with, and she couldn't drive it anymore. I got to drive that car into almost total collapse, and loved every minute of it.
When it first decided to quit working on me, I was driving up the hill in Payson and had just made it past Smith's. I was in the left lane ready to turn, and almost to Payson High School, when a black cloud emerged from under the hood. I was in the middle of the road, and the car had stopped running, but not smoking. I looked ahead and there was nothing but smoke, and a quick check behind me showed the coast was clear. I quickly decided to back down the hill against traffic, go across the southbound lane while northbound, and swing the car into the Smith's parking lot. Coasting backwards downhill was challenging and the turn into the parking lot was also in reverse, so I hoped anyone pulling out was paying attention. I coasted to a stop right in a parking spot. The smoke continued to pour out. I grabbed the window washer fluid from the back and popped the hood. The engine was in flames. It was from a broken PLASTIC gas distribution piece which is mounted right on the engine. I’ve heard this is a common problem with these cars. The rest of the windshield washer fluid I had in the bottle was just enough to put it out, and the bag boy who had ran from the store with an extinguisher was amazed I had put it out myself.
I had to wait to visit a couple of different auto shops to finally get the car fixed, but the good news is that it did run again. Did you know that if your mechanic parks your car illegally on the street, you may still be expected to pay the fine? At least that’s what I learned in Provo court. I even got the chance to drive it one entire winter without heat and to replace the heater control unit the next summer. Eventually it wouldn't pass inspection and I had to sell it.
I was parking it illegally on the street and moving it every few days. I wanted a thousand dollars, but it probably wasn’t worth that much. Here’s a negotiating tip. Show up with cash.
The two Hispanic gentlemen who showed up to buy were two hundred dollars short, but as soon as the money came out of the younger one's pocket, in CASH, I knew I had seen the last of the Mazda.
It made me think back to the good old days when I could fix the stuff I drove. One night during my high school years I was going up Parley's Canyon to Vernal. I was cutting pine poles and pine posts for extra money, and Dad had helped me buy an old truck and put an old bed on it. As I neared the top, the accelerator flipped to the floor but the engine went to idle. No matter what I did with the pedal, the engine just putted along. I had to pull over to the shoulder and try to figure what was going on.
Without a flashlight.
As I climbed into the engine, I could get the engine to rev by pulling on the throttle, but the accelerator wasn't working. That means there was something wrong with the linkage. I could feel where the problem was, and it seemed to be a part missing between two holes. Now if only I could find a piece of wire, and join those two parts, then I could be on my way. If only I could find a piece of wire.
Without a flashlight.
Luckily it was dark and deserted enough that night I don't think anyone saw me crawling along the freeway groping in the gravel for wire. But then I found a piece!
I fixed it after another half hour of cursing the darkness before it all worked. I made it to Vernal that night, and I don't remember ever buying the correct part for the engine. It was working fine, and I was convinced that if it ever happened again, I would be able to fix it, even in the dark I wonder what kind of demand there is for blind mechanics. I really think I could do it if I had to.
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