Thursday, February 16, 2006
Why my Wife and I Have Cell Phones
In 1977, Mari and I lived in
Silvercreek is about five miles down the road from Mossyrock, just fifty miles or so North of Mt St. Helens.
In those early days of our marriage, we had only one car, a Dodge panel van; it was a hundred miles to the nearest airport. I was doing two concerts a week on a pretty regular basis, Friday and Saturday nights, so that meant leaving home early Thursday morning and not returning until late Sunday evening. That left Mari (no cell phone) stranded without a car for four days a week. We only knew two or three families living in the area and of course, there in southern
It was early spring, and I was singing at a youth convention in
So, instead of leaving
On the connector flight from
They called my flight to
Upon my arrival at PDX I once again called the hotel in
So there I was, at the Portland Air Terminal, nearly a hundred miles from home with no keys to my van.
I went out to the gas station located in the airport parking lot; and asked the attendant if he knew how to hot wire a car. He said, “no, he didn’t”. I asked if I could use his phone (no cell phone) to call the Police station, maybe they could tell me how to get my car started. The Police told me they didn’t give out that kind of information. I told them I couldn’t find any car thieves listed in the phone book and that’s why I’d called them. Then the officer got a bit snippety with me and that was the end of our conversation.
The gas station manager had a thought saying, maybe his boss might know how to hot wire the car. So he gave him a call (no cell phone). Yes! His boss came right over and wired up my car. Then using a screwdriver to short the starter motor, zoom, zoom my car was running. The only problem was I had to break the wind wing on the passenger’s door to gain access to the inside of the van, but hey, I was on my way home, so I really didn’t care.
I pulled out onto I-5 heading north and I was one happy camper… thinking all my troubles were behind me; I was on my way home.
Then it started to rain… Hard. A hard, hard, downpour. I couldn’t use my windshield wipers because my ignition wasn’t turned on. I could barely see where I was going so I thought I’d better turn on my headlights so no one would run into me. But because my van was hot wired, when I turned my lights on, a full charge from the alternator totally bypassing the voltage regulator, zapped its way into my electrical system through the light switch. Instantly, every light bulb in my van blew out. As soon as I saw the lights flaring I turned off the lights, but it was too late. The electrical surge had fused the points in the distributor and I was now running on two barely firing cylinders.
Popity, popity, Chugady, pop, Chugady, pop, chug, chug. I was driving a doomed automobile and I knew it. The best I could do was get this thing off to the side of the road. As I pulled onto the apron, the rattling engine gave up the ghost and totally died.
In order to try and restart the car I knew I’d be getting soaking wet in the downpour. So, I popped the hood, grabbed my screwdriver and opened the door. Just as I swung the door open, a big eighteen wheeler doin’ about sixty-five miles an hour went roaring past and the back draft caught my door and slammed it all the way forward, springing the hinges and warping the door. So, now my driver’s side door is sprung and won’t close properly. I get out of the van and slam the door shut half a dozen times trying to bend the hinges back so the door will stay closed. Then I’m off around the front of the van with my screw driver and start shorting out the starter motor, trying to get the engine running again. It’s like standing under a waterfall but I do get the engine, cough, cough, sputter, sputtering and I run around trying to get my foot on the gas peddle before the motor stops. I’m pump, pump, pumping the peddle like crazy, the engine rattles and sputters and then it backfires to a stop. So I get a packing box from the back of the van and wedge it against the accelerator, grab my screwdriver and I’m back out in the rain doing my newly learned car starting trick. This time when it kicks over, it actually starts to rev up a bit, so I slam the hood and charge around leaping into the van slamming my right foot down on the accelerator and pop sputter pop I have a barely running engine and it’s five miles to the next off ramp. But I had just passed an off ramp so I decided to back up and exit off the on ramp. It was still raining so hard I couldn’t see what I was backing into so I ran into the guardrail and wiped out the right side of my van.
Finally, I got back on I-5 heading south and found a service station that was open. As I pulled into the parking area my van once again died a horrible coughing and wheezing death.
I used their phone to call Mari (no cell phone) at home. She was worried sick, not knowing what had become of me. I found out that when I called
Mari called Kathy, asked if she would drive down to pick me up, and give me a ride home.
I finally got home that night about midnight. Three days later, they called me and told me my van was ready for me to come and pick it up.
And that’s why my wife and I have cell phones.
That’s it for now.