Like most Fridays, the day started out too damn early. My boss needed a new smartmedia card for the digital camera so he sent me out to get one. i found the keys, signed the shop truck out and shuffled across the parking lot in the cool morning air to the truck. Weatherbeaten, dented and filthy, it sat in the far corner of the parking lot. It always hesitated when it was cold, as if the fluid in the shaky automatic transmission was viscous as tar.

Hell, it may be tar and sawdust, as much as it gets serviced.

i urged the truck out into traffic with the sole of my steel toe boot and propped the other on the dash, just to the left of the instrument cluster. As my usual fashion, i had the window down, left arm propped out the open window, heat turned on high and diverted to the floorboard.

At every stop light, i was a drag race demon, the 351 CID V8 springing into action and losing most of it's useful torque through the ratty transmission. The shift from first into second jerked hard enough to almost bark the tires, but only from sheer violence, not power. Beautiful visions of clutch plates and planetary gears finally shattering under stress danced through my head as i made zero to sixty in just over fifteen seconds. Shit yeah, i was a bad motherfucker in this truck.

After finally harassing someone at the computer store into selling me the memory card, i returned to the truck, slid the key into the ignition switch and gave it a good twist. nothing



Sometime while i was blaring music through the demo machines (why else would they put mp3s on them and have speakers hooked up?), the truck peacefully passed away in the parking lot.

This was an event i had been expecting for quite a long time. Hell, we probably could've started a betting pool with JR in shipping & recieving on the demise of the shop truck. The only problem was i felt cheated. Damnit, i wanted to be driving when it shat itself. i didn't want to be the cause of the truck dying but i wanted to be right there in the driver's seat when it happened.

i wanted to feel the sudden loss of power and see the transmission artfully strewn behind me, receeding in the rearview mirror as i coasted to a stop. i wanted pistons siezing as the rings scored deep grooves into the cylinder walls. i wanted a rod thrown straight through the fucking oil pan. i had sick visions of standing next to the smoldering remains of a 1992 white Ford F-150 on the side of the road. Bucking and violent shakes as the rear axle snaps, high-pitched whine of bending metal, precious engine fluids leaking as if through window screen all ran through my mind. A shitstorm of flames and rending metal would have been excellent. But no.

It just wouldn't start. No click of the starter relay or solenoid, no grinding the starter motor against the flywheel, only dead silence. i figured it was probably the ignition switch, but i popped the hood just to make sure nothing was obviously wrong. Everything in the cavernous engine compartment seemed to be in decent order. Well, as decent as it ever got. Just for shits and giggles, i gave the large lead-acid battery a few well-placed smacks and i yanked on the battery cables, covering my hands in dirt and grease from the 4 gauge cables. i hit the ignition switch again.

The truck started on the first try.

i sped back to the shop at 60 mph, laughing the entire way. i thought it was dead and my chance for basking in its glow as both fuel tanks ingite was rudely snatched from my hands. Now there was another chance, another possible moment of glory. Just having that chance once again made me smile. Sometimes hope is better than the real thing. Sometimes the possibility is better than the actual event. Hope can deliver you through the darkest times, only a mere glimmer of the light at the end of the tunnel is enough to keep you going.

i've got my money on mid-October.

I was hoping for catastrophic failure


Motley Crue killed my car

It was recently my birthday. As usual, I was reflecting back on my life, reliving the high and low points. I quickly glossed over the low points, and concentrated on the highs.

One of my favorite times from high school was getting the friends together on friday nights and playing Star Fleet Battles. Once a geek, always a geek. There would be several of us gathered around my parent's dining room table, pusing those little cardboard counters all over the hexmap, filling out EA forms, and arguing about rules. Heh. If only we had put that much effort into chasing women. However, I digress.

One of the big parts of our gaming was listening to music that would bug my parents. At the time, Heavy Metal was begining its slow transformation into glam rock, and Motley Crue was the band of the hour. Shout at the Devil was perfect gaming music. We would play my Motley Crue tape over and over. We all knew the words to In the Begining and would recite them along with the tape, much to the joy of my mother. Good Catholics should not do such things. The air guitars were out in full force, and I made it a special point to chime in on all of my favorite lyrics. Vince Neil and I would sing "He put the strength to the test, he put the thrill back in death" together several times a night. "Out go the lights, in goes my knife, that is right, consider that Bastard dead" was another favorite. Of course, neither of us could really sing, but that's a different tanget.

With my annual birthday life review, I was really jonesing to play SFB or at least hear some old Motley Crue. The good times of today were harkening to the good times of the past.

Normally, to hear some old Motley Crue, I would have listened to the radio. But, with the death of radio in Cleveland, it was not to be. I only spend about 90 minutes in the car going to an fro work each day, and the radio gods just don't program enough Motley Crue. Oddly enough, they program way too much Metallica. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Metallica fan. But, I long for the days when I controlled my Metallica listening. It was my guilty pleasure. Something I controlled, not the programming director. For a while, this was a huge problem for me. I only had a radio in my car, no CD player. Not even a cassette player. It sucked. But, when I graduated from college, my wonderful wife bought me an in-dash CD player for my car and had it installed. My days of being a radio slave were over. I could control what I heard, and when I heard it. And I needed to hear Motley Crue. I listened to the radio for a few days, hoping to hear "Looks that Kill" or "Shout at the Devil". It didn't happen. Shout at the Devil had been on the "to buy" list ever since I had received my car CD player. Now it was becoming an issue.

At my suprise birthday party, I was given a good number of Borders gift cards. I'm always difficult to buy for, because I always want expensive toys. The group at my party put their heads together, and all managed to buy me the same thing. Where did I come up with such good friends and family? Just blessed, I guess.

So, of course, the next morning I was up early and on my way to Borders. At last, Shout at the Devil was mine.

With all the joy of a kid at Christmas, I popped the CD into my car stereo and cranked up the volume. The soothing sounds of In the Begining were soon caressing my ears. By the time I got home, Bastard was blasting out of the speakers.

And that was the MO for the next few weeks. Get in the car, blast Motley Crue. I'm not talking loud, I'm talking loud. Like unable to shout (pardon the pun) over it loud. I was loving it. I was finally getting the Motley Crue fix I needed.

About this time, my car started to develop some odd habits. Only one of my headlights would come on. My interior lights were getting dimmer. My stereo just wasn't as loud. My wiper blades were slower. It was harder to start my car. My gas milage was getting lower. I was due for an oil change, so I figured that was the problem. Not as such. I did get the oil changed, but that only helped with the gas milage. Things were still not quite right with my car. I shrugged it off, just hoping the car would last until May when I could afford to buy a new car.

Then, things started to get worse. My ABS and air bag lights would randomly turn on and off. I would turn the car off at red lights and then start it back up to get the lights to turn off. I called it rebooting the car. By now, the astute reader is saying, "Why didn't you take the car to the shop?". I dunno. I've got a really long history of difficulty with cars, and the idea just never really occured to me. I drove the car with the lights acting goofy for a few weeks, until...

The End. On a lovely rainy afternoon, I was driving home from work when the ABS light came on. Then the air bag light. Then the battery light. Then the wiper blades stopped working. Then one of the headlights went dim. The stereo, still blasting Motley Crue, was cutting in and out. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, I started to realize I had a big problem. I was 30 miles from home in a dying car.

30 miles to go. My first thought was to pull over and reboot the car. I figured this was a bad idea. It would most likely never start again if I did that. So I kept going. Time for some power saving measures. Lights off. Stereo off. Wipers off. The closer to home I got, the less it would cost to have my car towed when it died. I drive past my auto mechanic on the way home, so my goal was to make it there.

20 miles to go. Things are looking up. The battery light is no longer on. Maybe I was pulling too much of a load and I just needed to have less things on so the battery could charge. I breathe a sigh of relief, and realize I can make it to the service station with no problem.

15 miles to go. Things are looking down. The ABS and airbag lights are now off. How cool. But I'm doing 80 mph. In the slow lane. And I'm being passed by cars that must be doing 100. Something's not quite right. I do a little experiment and step on the gas. My speedometer goes up to 85. I take my foot off the gas. I can feel the car slow down, but the speedometer stays at 85. I take a really good look at the battery and ABS lights. They aren't out, they are so dim it just looks like they are out.

10 miles to go I'm in the slow lane, just praying I will make it to the service station when my engine starts to skip. Not badly, but enough to notice. Sweat begins to form on my brow.

5 miles to go The skipping is still there, and getting stronger. My speedometer is still stuck at 85, and I estimate I'm going 60 or so. At 5 miles from the service station, I only need 5 minutes of life out of the car. Come on car, you can do it!

1 mile to go We're in full skip mode now. I figure every other cylinder is firing at this point. Just one more mile, PLEASE!

100 yars to go The engine gives a final wheeze and dies. I'm coasting down the off ramp at this point, hoping for no traffic so I can make the left hand turn towards the service station. The power steering is gone at this point, so it is getting hard to steer. I make it to the intersection, and as luck would have it, no traffic. I violate a law by not coming to a full and complete stop, but I figure I've got bigger issues at this point. I manage the left hand turn, and make the quick roll down the hill and make the right hand turn into the service station. I've got just enough momentum to pull into a parking space.

I left my car keys with the mechanics, and give my wife a call to come pick me up.

My car was fixed the next day, so after work I picked it up and talked to the mechanic about it. Turns out the alternator was slowly dying, and the car was running mostly off of the battery. He theorized that the current draw on the electrics was too much, and the battery wouldn't recharge under such a high current load, like a loud stereo. Two hundred and fifty dollars later, I had a new alternator and a running car.

So there you have it. Motley Crue did kill my car. But now my car is back in full running order. And I'm still listening to Shout at the Devil at high volume.

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