Sunday, October 09, 2005

Adventures in Automobiles

Upon my return to Tennessee, I knew that I would need a rental car, so I reserved a mid-size car over the internet on Saturday night. When I arrived on Sunday afternoon, it turned out that they had no mid-size cars, so instead they gave me a Lincoln Town Car with all the bells and whistles. (The woman who gave me the key told me I was going to love it because it had “all the bling-bling.”)

I put my luggage in the rental car and then I got the important items out of Gundar before calling AAA. As it turned out, the guy who drives the only tow truck that can get into the airport parking garage does not work on Sundays, so they can’t tow my car until tomorrow. The AAA towing guy came anyhow, and collected from me the key to Gundar, the parking ticket, and money to pay for the parking. In the morning, they will tow him to the dealer. I’m to call the dealer first thing in the morning to let them know he’s coming.

I suspect that Gundar’s ailment is a broken fuel pump, but of course I don’t really know. I’m thinking that if I’m right, the fuel pump is a moderately priced part but the labor will be costly because it is buried deep inside, at least if a 1990 model is anything like a 1982 model. Ingrid the 1982 Volvo always had fuel pump issues and it took a lot of labor just to get to the pump.

After getting all the necessary items to the AAA guy, I hopped into the Lincoln. That is one fancy car! I felt a bit out of place in my jeans and software company t-shirt. I sat down on the leather seat and inserted the key into the ignition. To my surprise, the seat moved forward! I don’t know if it figured out how tall I am or if it just happened to be set that way, but it moved to just about the perfect position for me. (It moved back again when I turned off the car and removed the key.)

It was a very smooth and luxurious ride back to my apartment. Gundar vibrates at a certain frequency when you’re going 40 mph, and another frequency when you’re going 70, so you can kind of tell when you’re speeding up or slowing down. But this brand new Lincoln drives so smoothly that you start out at 40 and the next thing you know you look down and the odometer reads 70. So you have to be extra careful to keep an eye on your speed.

It has a nice stereo, a sunroof, a quartz clock in the dashboard, heated or cooled seats, temperature climate control, heated side mirrors, a hood ornament, wood paneling, a wooden inlayed steering wheel, and power everything, including the trunk, which when you shut it kind of sucks itself closed.

It’s a really big car, too. I don’t even want to think about the gas mileage! A nice feature it has is some sort of detector in the rear that beeps at you when you get too close to something when you’re backing up. I tried to park at the apartments but I did a poor job of parking, and backed up to straighten out. I got too close to the curb behind me for its liking, so it beeped at me.

It will be interesting to drive the car to work tomorrow. It also has a compass, which has been interesting to glance at occasionally, to cross-check my internal bearings. I am correct some of the time, and very close most of the time. Not bad for a kid who used to think that whichever direction you were facing was north.

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