Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Shitbox Story

Originally posted February 1, 2007. The boy is now the mister, and the Shitbox is gone to a better place, replaced by Shitbox II and Shitbox III. The rest of the details are the same.

Part One

So, the boy and I (mostly him, though) have a fair number of vehicles. I have a nice green Chevy Monte Carlo. It's a little on the old side but in good shape. It's reliable, safe, and just a little bit boring. The boy owns a pair of Mustangs (with 30 years between them). And an enormous blue Ford diesel truck. And a motorcycle. And a little truck I have lovingly nicknamed the shitbox.

It's a 80-something Ford Bronco II with 260,000 miles on it. It used to be brown. Now it's sort of rust colored and peeling. It smells like burning oil, gasoline, exhaust, and rat pee. It has a big dent on one side where the boy and some of his idiot friends banged into a tree when they were four-wheeling. The passenger door can only be opened with brute force. Once I get the truck into 3rd gear I cannot get it out, which is actually ok because I can never get the truck into third. It’s like it disappears when I’m not looking. Reverse is a mystery to me; on the rare occasion I have to drive the damned thing I will look all over for a pull-thru parking space so I can avoid having to grind gears in an effort to find reverse.

(Believe it or not, I can actually drive a stick shift with a fair amount of proficiency. I have driven numerous other manual-transmission automobiles with no problems finding third or reverse. Or any of the other gears either, for that matter. It’s just that shitbox sucks. I’m not even sure there is a third gear in there anymore or if it’s just been worn out over the years and ceased to exist.)

This morning I started my car (the Monte Carlo) to let it warm up since it was a frigid 4 below. When I came back outside a few minutes later I settled in and backed out of the driveway. Something is not right, I thought to myself. Then I started to drive forward. Very not right. The car was making a strange chucka-chucka-chucka noise and pulling to the right.

I stopped, got out, and looked at my front passenger side tire. Son of a bitch. The same tire that was flat a few weeks ago and I got repaired was now totally flat. AGAIN. I was only 4 feet from the end of my driveway, so I pulled back in and went into the house, where the boy was still comfortably snoozing, as it was still quite early, long before the sun made an appearance.

“Hey! Wake up! I need you to drive me to the train station.”

His response? Was it, “of course, darling, love of my life, let me put on some pants and I will drive you anywhere your heart desires. Then, during the day, while you are working so very hard because you have several hours of work followed by 7 straight hours of class today and you will not be getting home until sometime in the neighborhood of 10 p.m., which is roughly 16 hours from now, I will take the offending tire off your car and get it repaired so you may drive your car tomorrow?”

Not quite.

He grunted at me, got up, stalked to his jacket and yanked a set of keys off a key ring in the jacket’s pocket. He fired the keys at my head and went back to bed.

The keys in my hand? Keys to the shitbox.


Now, it’s only 3.5 miles to the train station from my house. But those three miles seem very, very long when you can’t get the damned truck into third gear. I was just stuck in second the whole time.

Plus, my legs are a great deal longer than the boy’s and I was wearing high heels. The seat and the tilt steering wheel in the Bronco are locked into place, frozen by time and rust. It takes a great deal of finagling to wedge myself into the seat and cram my legs under the steering wheel and then every time I’d step on the clutch I’d bang my damned knee on the steering wheel.

It was a long, slow drive to the train station, since second gear doesn’t allow you to go very fast before the transmission and engine start screaming at you. Then, when I got there and found a parking spot, I had to ram my shoulder into the driver’s door until it sprung open and I sort of popped out of the truck.

I am not looking forward to going home tonight.

And since I won’t get home until late, I won’t be able to take the tire from my car into get fixed which means that tomorrow I get to drive the shitbox again.

I am grateful, though, that there was an extra car for me to drive and that I didn’t have to crawl around on the freezing ground to change my tire.

Part Two

Apparently I whined about my morning a bit prematurely. The boy’s morning was far worse than mine.

He uses the shitbox (Bronco) as his winter car to keep the miles off of the enormous blue diesel truck. But I took the shitbox today, leaving him (1) a monte carlo with a seriously flat tire, and (2) the big blue truck.

I received the following email a little bit ago (comments in brackets added by me):


I would like to tell you how my morning went. It started off with my girlfriend [and future wife, the love of my life] waking me up out of a deep sleep and asking me to use my Bronco because she had a flat tire. No problem. [In reality, I asked him for a ride, not for the shitbox, so really, if he had done like I asked, the rest of this ridiculous story could have been avoided. I’m just saying.] So I plugged my diesel truck in. [Diesel fuel turns to glue in cold weather, by “plugging his truck in” he means that he plugged in the gas tank heater to turn the fuel back into fuel]. Then I went to take a shower. About an hour later I tried to start the truck but it would not start. So I thought I could ride my bicycle to work, which was about 2.5 miles. [He often mountain bikes in the winter time. He likes biking in the cold weather and is used to it. He’s nuts like that.] But when I was about halfway to work I got a flat. [Apparently this is not a good day for tires in our household.] So I rode to the filling station to acquire some air, but it all just leaked out. Great. So I continued to ride on a flat tire and came upon some little kids waiting for the bus. One of the kids asked me if I wanted to use his bicycle because of the flat tire on mine. I told him that I was late for work and his bicycle might be too small for me. I was about 200 feet from work and the flat tire flew off of the rim. So I walked the rest of the way to work and froze my ass off. I think next time I will call in sick to work. And you think you had a shitty morning [I know it took all of his willpower not to add “you pain in my ass” to the end of this sentence.].

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