It's now late spring 1988. The week before Memorial weekend. I'd graduated college with no job, but I had a second interview with Arthur Andersen. So the day before the interview, the Dasher and I headed off up the road the 180 miles to the big city of Chicago to stay with a good friend from college. That way, I could make it down town in the morning early for my interview.
I'm driving in on the Kennedy "Expressway" at the height of the morning rush. This is the second time I've ever driven, "in the city." This is when the exhaust system falls off my car. Being an idiot, I stop (not like I was moving that fast anyway), get out, grab the hot metal, and toss it in the hatch.
You would be shocked at how loud that little motor was with no exhaust. Echoing in the canyons of the city, echoing off the walls of the parking garage. The only reprieve was driving over the bridges, because they are like grates, and the sound went thru them. I was certain I was going to get a ticket (but I could prove the thing just fell off), but didn't. It gave me a great story to tell during my second interview (I got the job about a week + later) and now good blog material.
When I got home, it was $150 for a new muffler. If I would have known...
Nah, probably wouldn't have made a difference. We all kinda thought it was good money after bad. But sometimes you still throw the good money, because it's the lesser of two evils. And I couldn't afford a new car before starting my job, but I knew the Dasher wasn't going to survive a winter of driving in Chicago traffic, even if it was just to and from the train station.
But this was mid August. I'd just finished the 6 week of training classes, and they let us go at noon on Friday, but there was going to be a party downtown after work. I decided to go home, change and drive back down. The summer of '88 was brutally hot, and I wanted to get out of the suit and tie into jeans.
As I was driving back in, about a half mile from where it dropped the exhaust, the car started bucking, and I managed to get it to the shoulder before it stalled out. I had NO IDEA what was going on. It was like it was running out of gas, but there was plenty of gas in the tank, just over a quarter tank.
I got out of the car, and walked around to the gas tank. For some reason, I assumed the 'Johnny Bench' position, crouched down right in front of the gas cap. I slowly turn the cap, and there's a loud hiss of pressure coming out of the tank. Vapor lock. Then, for some reason, I gave the gas cap a twist and yanked it off. Bad move. REALLY bad move.
I figure it was only about a half cup's worth of gas that shot out of the tank and splashed up my left arm and left leg. (Remember, this was a mid 70's vehicle that ran on regular gas. No little flappy nozzle that you stick your unleaded nozzle thru. Nope, just a pipe that runs to the tank.) Son-of-a-bitch!
What do I do now? If I turn around and go home, I'm not coming back. And now I could really use that beer. So, reeking of fumes, I reset the gas cap, but not so tight, and head down to the bar. I tried to wash up the best I could, but I still reeked of gas. I had a good time, except for when that one asshole started flipping his lighter on and off.
Then, Labor Day weekend, I tried driving home to my parent's, but it died 3 times on my before I got out of the metro area, so I turned around and went back to my apartment. That was the last straw. The weekend after that, I managed to limp home (I found the exact setting the gas cap needed to be set at) and traded it in and bought my tan Taurus. Sure, maybe all it needed was a new gas cap that vented pressure better, but I was done.
As much as I loved that little car, it's time was up.