Friday, July 07, 2006

Did I Think It Was 1970?

The car's other driver was going on a jaunt downstate a bit, so I figured I might as well fill the tank for him. Unfortunately, the pump's electronics jammed after I put my card in, so I had to pay in advance -- and had no idea how much it would take. "Seven dollars ought to bring it over the halfway mark," I told the clerk. She gave me a look, but took the sale. I got the gas, but noticed it was, holyangelsinheaven, only three gallons! No wonder the clerk seem to think I was odd and, perhaps, from another planet where gas is cheap.

Not really. Just for a moment I must have had a flashback to the gas station where I worked. People would pull up in their cars and ask for "two dollars worth, please." I'd stick the nozzle in their tank, then clean the windshield and back window, check the oil and get back to the nozzle in time as it approached the two dollar amount. Never broke a sweat.

That was in the days when odometers only had five digits and you marveled at anyone who had "rolled it over" and started fresh from five zeros again. Someone came in with a four- or six-year old Nova that had rolled over by five thousand miles. Wanted a grease and oil. I told the customer how impressed I was with the way he had kept his car so clean, scratch-free, etc, for having gone 105,000 miles. He said, "No, that's only 5,000 miles. I live in New York City; we don't use our cars there except for vacations and things like that and the rest of the time it's kept in a garage."

At one time, I was a restaurant parking lot attendant. An older couple came in with a T-bird that was tossing steam out the sides like an old locomotive. They did that with little provocation. I asked what had happened and they said traffic had backed up at the drawbridge; they didn't know if the garage had checked the radiator before they left. I told them it would be fine and to enjoy their meal. After letting the car cool for about half an hour, I started bringing out gallon jugs of water; the radiator normally took five and I emptied four into it. Got a nice tip.

The best vehicle I ever drove? Depends. I used to drive a snowplow with three axles, a gearbox with two ranges and ten or twelve forward gears. Never got stuck; all I had to do was find the right range (upper or lower) and the right gear within that range for whatever I had to do. Had a VW Karman Ghia, bought off someone's front lawn for $450; 4 cylinders, 3 worked; loved to be driven, went downhill real well. Used to drive an airplane push truck with 500-pound fenders (and no springs) to get really good traction when you have to push back Flight 100 for service to Detroit, Salt Lake City and Seattle. New members to the mile-high club are invited.


Blogger Cold Josh Vail said...

Ah yes, cars. Funny that you mention a Karmin Ghia. Friend of mine had one and he was proud to exhibit his primary tool box which consisted of baling wire and friction tape. He loved that car, and he almost married Miss Ghia but she forsaked him for a fellowwho owned a pre-owned vehicule museum over in the East Side ofthe neighboring city.

I too worked for a bit in a gas station up here in Québec. One day a huge white car with Massachusetts plates pulls in, get gassed and I did his windows and the usual routine. The conversation went like this, pretty much:

''Hey boy, you speak English?'

''Yes, sir''

''How do you get to Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré? ''

(At this point his motor was running, in gear and hispatience thinning, meanoing that I was not going to get a ''thank you, boy'').

''OK sir, at the next light, turn left and follow the road to Ste-Brigitte-de-Laval, it is in back of there''.

Ste-Brigitte-de-Laval is not even in the same time zone as Ste-Anne....

Don't mess with kids!

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