Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My Car Go Boom

I have decided to name this post "My Car Go Boom", but in all honesty, that's not entirely accurate. First of all, since my car went "boom", I don't really have a car anymore, and thus should speak of any vehicle-o'-mine in the past tense. Of course, if I did that, then the Title would be "My Car Went Boom", and not only do I lose that neat-sounding pidgin English title, but it also makes it sound like my car suffers from flatulence.

(On a side note, since I'm so good at that... is using the word pidgin racist? I don't know. If it is, please accept my apologies as well as my claim to ignorance, and realize that no harm was intended in the usage of pidgin. And now back to my not-so-regularly scheduled blog.)

Annnnyways, where was I? Oh, yes. Now I remember; I'm explaining my choice of titles. The other problem with saying that my car Go Boom is that it really didn't Go Boom. It kind of just fizzled out, and then gently caught on fire.

Yes. Caught on fire. As in, the fire department came out and everything. Yes, that previous sentence was a fragment. I don't care. Burning cars deserve a fragment or two, wouldn't you say? I think they do. The car in question was a 1990 Volvo with 250,000 miles on it. Yes, that's a lot of miles. From the looks of the car, they weren't easy miles either. There were holes on the inside of the vehicle, and missing headrests, and a cracked windshield. I promptly dubbed her Little Miss Redneck and took great joy in driving her around my overly-snobby, affluent neighborhood. Much to my delight I actually had to hot wire her in order to get her running. She was fantastic.

Anyways, to shorten a really long, complicated, and vaguely uninteresting story, I was designated driver for bunch of 21 year old guys that I didn't really know. I didn't feel comfortable with them driving themselves home, as I'm sure they were all about twice the legal limit as far as drinking went. So, I decided to be a good Samaritan and drive them to their respective houses. This is more complicated than it sounds, as I can tell you that alcohol does not serve as a memory enhancer. I can also tell you that it really doesn't serve that well as a communications enhancer either, and that getting the addresses out of my fine, drunken "friends" was extremely frustrating. Basically, the situation was kind of like this:

Me: "Okay, my car is leaving RIGHT NOW. If you guys want to walk home, that's fine, but if you want that ride, GET IN."

ten minutes later...

Me
: "Okay, now that I've finally gotten you in my car, where do you guys live?"

five minutes later....

Me:
"Yes, I'm sure that that episode of SpongeBob was great... but where do you guys live? This is getting ridiculous. I need an end location, not just "drive forward".

ten miles later

Me: "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU LIVE IN THE OTHER DIRECTION?"


So, there you go. The whole process took almost an hour, when I could have been done in twenty minutes. I was just in the process of pulling up to the last guy's house when...

Me: "Do you smell that?"

Him: "Huh?" *burp*

Me: "No, really. Do you smell that? It smells like... burning rubber? Brakes? Cars aren't supposed to smell like that, not even on a hot day. It's the middle of the night. WHAT is that smell? Can't you smell it?

Him: (sniffing) "Actually, yeah. I can. Whassit?"

Me: (increasingly worried) "I don't KNOW what it is. The car's not hot.... it just smells... HOLY CRUMB, IS THAT SMOKE COMING OUT FROM BEHIND THE DASHBOARD?"

Yes folks, I'm here to tell you that it was smoke coming out from behind the dashboard. Actually, if you want the truth, it was actually smoke POURING out from behind the dashboard. This was actually very alarming to me, as can be expected.... but not nearly as alarming as the bright, cheery glow that began flickering behind my odometer a few moments later. It took a moment to register that smell + smoke + bright, cheery, flickery glow probably equaled fire. I mean, that kind of stuff just isn't supposed to happen, so the information took a little longer than usual to register. I figured out pretty quickly that the source of the trouble was a happy, rather adorable little dancing flame situated juuuust behind the odometer. I could see it peeking out at me between a little crack in the dashboard area. It was a really tiny flame, and it was really frustrating when I realized I had no way of actually getting to it to put it out.

In an attempt to nominate myself for some sort of an honorary Darwin Award, I will admit that I did press my lips against the tiny crack in my dashboard and attempt to blow it out. Not only did I succeed in simultaneously giving myself a headache and looking like an idiot, but I also just succeeded in making the flame bigger. I swear I heard the evil little thing cackle at me as it wiggled around, avoiding my attempts at eradication. "Hee-hee! You thought you could destroy me? Your weapons are useless! I thrive on oxygen! Ha-ha!"

Giving up, I ordered my drunken friend to exit the car. He stood on the sidewalk, weaving slightly, occasionally muttering "Whoa. Weird." as I attempted to simultaneously dial 911 while salvaging things from my vehicle. I asked him to go get some trash bags from his house, because as luck would have it, I had about three thousand cubic meters of laundry in the trunk of my car. When I finally got through to the 911 operator, I tried to sound a lot more reasonable than I felt. It didn't help that the operator who directed my call to the fire department sounded more shook up than I did. The call went somewhat along these lines:

"911, What is your emergency?"

"Um, I'm over here at ***** Cherry Ave in Long Beach, on the north side of the street. Uh, I think I need the fire department. My car is kind of on fire."


"Ohmigosh. Wow. Wow. That's not good. Uh..... Hold on. Wow. I'll connect you."

See what I mean? I was nervous beforehand, but once I finished listening to her freak out on my behalf, I kind of got even more nervous.

By the time the fire department rolled up I had finished grabbing all of the necessary items from inside the car, and had moved onto emptying out the trunk of my car onto an unknown neighbor's lawn. I'm sure it looked absolutely terrible. The Volvo could actually fit an astonishing amount of items in its trunk, and I had that trunk PACKED. I had almost all of my clothing in smashed back there in the form of clean laundry, several pairs of shoes, several boxes of books and various items that had been meaning to find their way down to goodwill (but, in reality, had been simply living in my trunk for almost a month), a backpack, a blanket, a laptop, a bridle, and, of course, a box of tampons that proceeded to jump out and announce their presence to every one who walked by. I mean, I kept trying to put those things deep inside a bag, but every time I turned around it would jump out on the sidewalk, wave it's little pastel-blue arms, and holler, "Lookatme! Lookatme! Hey, you! Cute fireman dude! Trip over me and look down! YEAH! YEAH! That's right. See that girl over there? She's one of those. Yeah. She's one of those menstruating-type girls. Isn't that gross?"

I hate that box of tampons. I'll never forgive it.

Anyways, by the time the fire department arrived, I had a mound of items sitting on the lawn beside my dilapidated, burning vehicle. I, of course, was not looking my best, having just gotten off of a nine hour shift at work. Between the state of the vehicle and the amount of stuff I had sitting beside it, I probably looked like I lived out of my vehicle. Oh, well. The firemen marched up to the car (which by this point had flames licking up the sides of the windows) and immediately started coating it in mounds of white foam. My drunken friend returned with trash bags, took one look at the flames, fireman, and foam, and shook his head. "Whoa. I, like, went in to get trash bags, and came back and the car is totally on fire. Weird."

If I had been a little less frantic, I would have completely agreed with him. The whole experience was very surreal.

It didn't take very long to put out the fire. They pried the dashboard off the vehicle, coated the inside of the engine with the foam, and then proceeded use the blunt ends of their axes to bash around inside the engine block to knock loose any embers. There was something rather practiced in the way they all went about it, as if they'd done it thousands of times before. Their nonchalance helped me retain my sanity (if not my dignity).

Anyhow, that's my story. I thanked the fire department for demolishing my vehicle, lugged my bags 'n bags of stuff into my drunken friend's house, and spent the night on his sofa. Thankfully he didn't turn out to be a murderer or a rapist, and was really quite chivalrous about the whole thing. I got up in the morning, took a bus back to my house, borrowed a car to return to the scene of the crime, and snapped a few photos of the dashboard before arranging to have Little Miss Redneck towed. Here are photos from the morning after:











Oh, and one last thing... did I mention that the police department ticketed me for having my rear bumper extending into an alley? Yeah. How nice was that? How could they not notice the blackened/charred interior of my car? Sheesh.

Anyways, that's my story. I miss my car, but I guess it's a fairly romantic way for a car to end it all. Here's a photo of Little Miss Redneck I took on the day I bought her.



Goodbye, faithless little car. I'd wish you well, but you burst into flame on me.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Sarah said...

Well, I'm glad I got to meet her two days before she died... and wow - I had no idea she was only a '90. I guess you're right about those miles being hard ones.

Anyway, at least it wasn't your fault. I almost wrecked my parents' car by letting it burn internally about five years ago. I still don't really know what happened, but I passed a really slow driver on the way to church (...I floored it) and something popped and started spewing fluid out of the bottom... and then the car started to steam and smell like burned bananas. I shouldn't even know how burned bananas smell and I don't know how I do. And um, I kept driving the car because I needed to go to work after that. It still works though! It's awesome. Anyway, the whole point of my story is that I'm glad it wasn't your fault that the car caught fire... and that no one was hurt. :)

September 6, 2007 at 10:16 PM  
Blogger julia said...

Holy Cow! And I thought I was unlucky with cars! So far, nothing has caught on fire while I'm driving it.

I'm sorry about the death of your car, though. And getting ticketed is just evil.

I am happy that you are blogging again - too bad it was to tell a sad story. Good luck finding a new car!

September 7, 2007 at 4:20 PM  

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