Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Garage - Track

Oct. 08, 2003 - 6:51 a.m.

I took the new car to work today. Normally I take the new car every day, since it's mine, but yesterday I took NewWifey(tm)'s SUV as it needed an oil change and I didn't trust her to do it. Not that she can't do an oil change. She can, and very well. The trouble is, she doesn't know when to stop. NewWifey(tm) loves working on cars - or anything mechanical for that matter. I knew if I left her to do an oil change the car would also end up with Brembo 4-caliper brakes, a cold air intake, a re-mapped ECU, and 4 or 5 air freshener trees. I wanted to be able to still afford food next month, so I did the oil change. It went well, it was cheap, and no park rangers saw me dump the old sludge into the trout stream. Success.

So anyway, I was back in the new car today as I say. I just LOVE my new car. When our second car died a loud, ignominious death a couple of months ago we were left in a lurch. We certainly hadn't wanted to shoulder a new debt like this, especially since I'm still paying for those rare "Hello Kitty" dolls I found on eBay. But at least NewWifey(tm)'s father works for Ford, so we get a hellaciously generous family discount at the dealer.

We hightailed it to the Ford dealer as soon as the tow truck could take us there. While we were waiting for the salesman to come service us, and then sell us a car, I strolled around the used lot to see what was on offer. For the most part it was the expected collection of nondescript Escorts and Explorers, their tires sprayed with that shiny stuff that's supposed to distract you from the bent frame and missing quarter panels. Then, at the verrrry end, wedged between a retaining wall and a behemoth Escalade (do people really have 27 children and 15 kayaks that they need these?) was...a silver 2003 Subaru WRX! What the...? What was that doing here among all the domestics?

Now the WRX version of the Subaru was something I'd been stroking it to ever since I first played "Gran Tourismo" on the Playstation. It was easily the fastest, best handling car in my memory card, and I just KNEW the real life version was every bit as good. It had to be - games don't lie. Trouble was, Subabru was not exporting any of these pocket rockets into the States. That is, until last year. True, they had to de-tune it a bit to meet US emissions standards, but still. It's a WRX, man! Alas that I couldn't afford one....

But I still couldn't fathom why it was here, glowering among the family sedans.

Turns out that some guy bought it a month previously from the Subaru dealer down the road. It took him only 4 weeks to figure out that a squat little race car was not the most efficient way of transporting lumber. Since he was a contract carpenter, this was seriously crimping his job performance. So he drove the mighty Subie to the Ford place and swapped it even for an F150 pickup. Tough luck, pal.

Now the Ford place just wanted it off their lot - it was making all the other used cars look like the Clampett's Model A. So they knocked like 8 grand off the price, added their used car warantee on top of the remaining new car warantee, and tossed in a Sponge Bob air freshener. How could I resist? PLUS, it's got All Wheel Drive, which I need living up here on top of Mt. Lonely. I leave for work at 2am, and in the winter that means before the snow plows. Unless I feel like getting up 15 hours early and shovelling our entire street, a 2-wheel drive vehicle just won't cut it. I was happy happy joy joy.

I'm still happy happy joy joy almost two months later, but a bit more wary also. That car is SO fast. Especially since I've, um, modified it a bit in, uh, *slight* violation of our emissions laws. I mean really, the thing comes with THREE catalytic converters! Surely taking ONE off won't cause a drastic rise in melanoma rates around the world. And 12 pounds of boost? That's not bad but...15 lbs through a TurboXS MBC seems more appropriate somehow. And wait til I get that GReddy Cat-back put on!.

Ahem. Sorry bout that. I'd really meant to keep this user friendly. I just...well, boys and their toys, y'know?

Needless to say, I'm anticipating trouble. I keep finding the speedometer needle at 80, and usually rising, when I think I'm keeping to 30 in the School Zone. Not good. Until I really get used to it, I have to seriously concentrate on my right foot. NewWifey(tm) and I have a running bet to see which of us will be the first to be featured on "Greatest Police Chases" leading a line of Smokies down Rt.515.

Well this morning I really WAS concentrating on my right foot. As I mentioned, I leave for work at 2am. At that hour there just aren't many other people heading to work for some reason. Therefore any car on the road really stands out, and immediately becomes an object of interest for a cop hidden in the weeds. And there are LOTS of cop cars hidden in the weeds on my way to work. I go through all these little bohunk towns who's main source of revenue is the pounds of flesh they can slice from anyone with a license. During the day you are pretty insulated by the cars around you, if you just go with the flow. We're like those bands of wildebeasts who are safe from the snarling lioness because of their sheer mass. But if one wanders away from the herd...wham! It gets a ticket.

There's this one stretch of Rt.23 that winds its way through West Milford. It's very pretty, with overhanging trees that turn the road into a kaleidoscope tunnel of Fall colors this time of year. Officially this road has a 40 mph speed limit posted, just for this one 2-mile stretch. The rest of the highway is 55. Usually I can resist the urge to barrel through these twisties at closer to 90, even though the Subie has been lobbying heavily otherwise. This morning was no exception. I kept it to a glacial 50 mph, and as soon as the road straightened out and I saw the "55" sign up ahead, I eased towards 60.

No sooner had my right foot started to *just kiss* that accelerator when my rear view mirror filled with flashing cherries. Shit.

Despite my boasts to NewWifey(tm) that I was gonna lead any Barney Fife on a wild, body-strewn chase ending with a suicide (hopefully his) if he tried to pull me over...I meekly pulled over.

"You were doing 60 in a 40, son" said the cop. Do you know they wear their sunglasses at night, just like that old song?

"Um...the sign says 55...Officer."

"55 starts AT the sign. You were still in the 40 zone."

Shit. What a racket.

License, registration and insurance card were all produced and I sat there while he ran the information through his computer. Damn that John Ashcroft! It now take FOREVER for the cops to check you out. I suddenly started sweating. What if those library books I never returned in 7th grade came up? I'd be doing next week's radio reports from Guantanamo bay!

Fortunately, the guy realized he hears me on the radio every morning, and I had a clean license. On top of that he was a County Cop, not a local revenue machine. So he chatted with me briefly, gave me the stern warning I'm expected to listen to, and handed me a written warning. I know it was a written warning because it had "WRITTEN WARNING" in huge font at the top of the slip. And in case I was illiterate, the cop said to me "This is a WRITTEN WARNING. It is filed electronically with the county sheriff's office. Any future violation will result in a ticket and points on your license. You have been warned."

I thanked him and pulled slowly out onto Rt.23.

Goddam it. You know, despite my testicular boasts, I really don't go screaming around every curve at risk of life and kids. I mean, I haven't gotten a ticket in over TEN years! Granted, it's mostly through knowing which roads are mined, and which are safe to pin the needle, but still. For the first 15 minutes after pulling away I was grateful that the cop let me off, and sent good karma wishes his way. But then I thought of how sneaky the whole thing was, and how I would have been nailed to a flaming cross if it weren't for the fact that he happened to tune into my station every morning. Bastards! I took back the karma and wished his whole department a case of Hanta virus.

Anyway, it's time to go home now. I suspect I'll be all the more careful not only on that section of Rt.23, but all the other roads as well. After all, I have been WARNED, and next time there will be no redemption.

I should have bought the Ford.

PS. My friend Short Stuff had her gall bladder out on Friday, and is still illin'. Why don't you pop over and leave her a nice note at: http://shortst101.diaryland.com (you can also click the link from my buddy list). Just don't leave anything too funny or she'll laugh and bust a stitch. She's done it before. Thanks!

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