A pun-filled story for all those great auto mechanics everywhere.
| August 26, 2007
Dear Dad and Mom,
I am so glad Doug can still find his way back home. I’m sorry about the holes . . . and I’m sure the letter is a little damp, too. Maybe, you’re not so happy he found his way home. I know he dribbles around the house and has an impact-able taste in shoes like yours, Mom. But, I told him that he was a good Doug for bringing this letter to you. I'm sure you’ll take good care of him until I can get back to fetch him. But first, I need your help. You see, I hear the distant sirens now; and they’re coming for me.
Doug and I had been making pretty good time, traveling eastbound on I-90, when I was startled by the harsh glow of my check engine light. Happy images of myself starting my first semester at SUNYA, equipped with my own car, were replaced with worry. Before I continue, I want you to know I appreciate that you helped me buy the Explorer last week. Without you, I would not have been able to afford the purchase.
I thought I was lucky when I found an open repair shop only a mile down the road, just off exit 11A. Although the garage was small, it sat on a large, graveled lot. On one side, eleven vehicles were lined up in neat rows like matchbox cars. A truck with a tow hook sat alone on the opposite side of the lot. Tacked above the garage door was a sign that read: PARK IN FRONT OF BAY DOOR AT YOUR OWN RISK.
The sweet smell of gasoline and anti-freeze sickened me the first time I entered the single-bay shop. Trying not to breathe through my nose, I called, “H-h-ell-o?” Nobody answered. I saw a wide behind sticking out from underneath the hood of a car. “Hello!” I called again, louder.
“Bubba be wit ya in jest a few.”
I barely made out his gruff, muffled voice. I looked around for ‘Bubba’, but I didn’t see anyone else. So, I took a seat in an unfolded metal chair to wait with Doug at my side. Every square foot of the garage floor was filthy. If I hadn’t spotted some holes and a few hunks of concrete where the floor was broken up, I would have thought it was a dirt floor. An unruly jumble of metal boxes, odd-looking machines, tools, and used car parts laid, strung at the base of all four walls of the building. Finally, the stout man brought his head out from under the car and slammed the hood shut.
“What can Bubba do ya for’d?” he asked, walking toward me and trying, unsuccessfully to wipe off his blackened hands with an already greasy rag. I realized that he was Bubba.
“Yeah Bubba, hi,” I answered, standing up. “Do you know much about Fords?”
“Oh yeah. Bubba's bread 'n butter's a F.O.R.D. -- Fix Or Repair ‘em Daily!” he sniggered.
Doug hopped up and started licking Bubba’s hand.
“Naw! Them hands are dirty. Ya don’t want none of that,” Bubba grumbled kindly as he pulled his hand away and pet Doug's head. It’s a good thing Doug is a black lab, I thought to myself.
“Well, my check engine light just came on. Could you take a look at it?”
Glancing out the open door at my car, he said, “Bubba don’t do checks.”
“You won’t even look at it?”
“Oh yeah, Bubba’d take a peek for’d cash only.”
“Oh! I have cash.” As you know, I hadn’t even opened a checking account yet. “Any idea what it could be?” I asked as I offered him my car keys.
“Not without lookin’ at it,” Bubba answered quietly, dropping my keys next to a telephone that sat on an upside down crate doubling as a desk. “Eh, could be the Delta Pressure Feedback Exhaust Sensor. Bubba seen it once er twice. Ya probably lookin’ at $60 to check it, $40 for the part, and $25 to replace it.” He picked up the keys and got to work.
While we waited, I sat in the metal chair, and Doug slept at my feet on the dirty floor. When Bubba was through diagnosing my car’s problem, he walked over to the make-shift desk and made another attempt to clean off his hands with the old rag. He picked up the receiver and punched in a phone number using one stubby and calloused finger.
“Yeah, Bubba here. Need a DPFE sensor for an ‘02 Ford Exploder.”
I rolled my eyes, unaware of the comment’s ford-shadowing.
After the parts store delivered the sensor and two long hours had passed, my car was finally fixed, and I paid Bubba-- with cash.
“Get in Doug,” I said as I opened the car door, letting him jump over my seat to the passenger side. Then, I sunk into the driver’s seat and stroked its soft pleather, trying to regain the sense of ownership I’d temporarily lost. We were finally ready to complete our journey, and we started down the road, back toward the I-90 on ramp.
About a minute after we left Bubba’s lot, Doug started whining and whimpering. I knew right away what he needed.
“Doug, why didn’t you go before we left?” I scolded him as I turned onto a side road. I hadn’t realized that a “Club 'N Balls” was in such close driving range. What a perfect spot to stop, I thought to myself, and I can get a bite to eat while we’re here.
Since it was Saturday, the place was busy, and I worried I’d have a long wait. After Doug did his business, we walked over to the concession stand. Luckily, there wasn’t a line, and I got my order right away. With a soda in one hand and a hotdog in the other, I spun around just in time to watch a young guy drop an entire bucket of balls. As if in slow motion, he brought his hands up to his face and cupped them around his mouth.
I looked up to the sky as I heard him yell, “F-f-f-o-o-o-r-r-r-e-D!”
But the man wasn’t yelling about a golf ball in the air. No, he was yelling to warn an old lady in a pick-up truck who was backing up-- right into the front end of my car.
It started right up, but it was out of alignment. So, Doug and I turned it around and carefully headed back to Bubba’s.
“Ford-get somethin’? He, he,” Bubba grumbled a throaty chuckle when I stepped out of my banged up car.
“No. I didn’t forget anything. And something got my Ford,” I said, not amused.
“Ya know, Bubba don’t do body work. But ... eh ... we might be able to pound out some of them dings and get her realigned so ya can get back on the road.”
“That would be good. What do you charge for that?”
“Bubba’d do it for’d, say, a buck-ten.”
“Fine, do it,” I said, handing him my keys.
I sat in the metal chair for another hour and a half, listening to what sounded like Bubba taking a hammer to my car.
“It ain’t real pretty, but it’ll get ya goin’ straight,” Bubba grinned, showing his teeth.
After I paid Bubba, I got Doug back into the car, and we headed down the road toward the I-90 on ramp. I really needed to make up some lost time. I had just passed the road to the driving range when I spotted the flashing lights behind me.
“Where’s the fire?” the officer scorned.
I explained that I didn’t realize I had exceeded the speed limit, and that I had some car trouble, and I was trying to get to college. He was unsympathetic.
“That’s some ford-midible story, but it’s no excuse for speeding,” he said as he handed me a ticket.
I started the car again and headed, slowly, toward the I-90 on ramp. The officer sped past me. I watched the backend of his police car disappear into the horizon as my engine began to skip. I heard a loud Pop! And then, another- POP! Doug whimpered, laying his head down in the backseat, and my car slowly died in the middle of the road.
Doug and I ambled back to Bubba’s.
I sat in the metal chair with Doug at my side while Bubba left to tow my car back to the garage.
“Ya done lost a coil er two,” Bubba said as he tried wiping off his greasy hands with that same dirty rag.
“How much will this cost me?” I sneered.
“Well, Bubba’d give ya Bubba’s reel suite deal. It’ll run ya $360.”
“I thought you said it was a real sweet deal?” I asked annoyed.
“Yep, a set of two ignition coils is 360 bucks.”
“Oh. Well, I suppose I have no choice,” I answered angrily.
“Ya need all 6 cylinders b’fore’d it’ll drive again good,” he replied, matter-of-factly.
It took Bubba two hours to replace the ignition coils. By this time, the sun was starting to set, and I was not pleased about driving the rest of the way to school in the dark.
After I paid Bubba again, Doug and I got back into my car to head down the road toward the I-90 on ramp. But--
Just as I was pulling out of Bubba’s lot, I heard my car rev. I gave it some gas, and it squealed, trying to shift into first. I shut off the engine and began to cry, lowering my head into the steering wheel. Bubba walked around to the front of my car and lifted up the hood. After poking around in there for awhile, he walked back around to the driver’s side window, wiping his blackened hands on his greasy rag.
“Looks like yer transmission went.”
“How much?” I whispered without lifting my head from the steering wheel.
“Well, ‘see here, yer’s is a Ford Oh Damn, so--”
“What did you say?” I demanded, thrashing my head back.
“A4OD’s the model of yer car’s transmission, which, for’d part alone, it’ll run ya 800 bucks. And, ‘bout 10 hour’s labor, Bubba’d get yer for’d a new tranny.”
Irate, I jumped out of my car and darted toward Bubba. I yelled at him, pointing my finger in his bearded face. I told him that he was a dumb, back-woods, grease monkey who spoke of himself in the third person like an idiot. I screamed at him, blaming him for breaking my car instead of fixing it right the first time.
Calmly, Bubba replied, “Like Bubba always say, It’s tough-- they’re Forbs!”
“You mean, Ford, right? What, you mean Ford TOUGH-- like the commercial says? Well, I’m here to tell Bubba: they are NOT---”
“Nope,” Bubba stopped me, speaking more clearly than he had all day, “Bubba means It is tough. There are four B’s Bubba says Bubba didn’t Buy it, Build it, or Break it.”
So, I gave Bubba the last of my cash for a tow and his greasy rag. By the time we got here, the night had fallen; and the sky was black. But, the moon shown brightly like the new found respect I had for the – not so – little man. I had Bubba park it in the same spot where it sat the first time we looked at it. Don’t worry, Doug and I made sure Bubba was safely back in his tow truck headed home and the lot was clear of people.
“Anyone for an ’02 Ford Exploder?” I said aloud as I lit Bubba’s rag I’d shoved in the gas tank.
I leapt to safety, where I’d tied up Doug. Then, I reclined into the heaping pile of my remaining possessions to enjoy my blazing glory.
“Oh Two Ford Exploders!” I snickered incurably as the blast took out the red model that was for sale next to it.
Yep, I’ll need bail money. And, if you ever want Doug and I out of the house again, you might want to start looking around for another car.
But whatever you do, Dad and Mom, please…
Ford-get me not.