An Embarrassing Trip Down Memory Lane

There's a Volkswagen bus that lives a few miles from our house. Every time we drive by it, my girls ooh and ahh about how cute it is.

I have another reaction. I'm transported back to the 1980s when my family actually owned one of these beauties. My parents had bought it from my grandparents and it became the car I would drive to work.

As you might imagine in a family with eleven children, money was tight and had to be stretched as far as possible. One summer, the starter gave out. This was inconvenient, but as I'm sure all of you know (or at least a couple of you), a starter isn't a necessity if it's got a standard transmission. All you need is a good push or a little incline. When we'd go shopping, we'd simply park on a hill. If a hill wasn't available, we'd need a couple of strong bodies to help push.

I began driving the Volkswagen to work each day. I worked at Tyson Foods and sadly, the parking lot was completely flat. What was an 18 year old girl to do?

Fortunately for me, the driver of the forklift in the shipping department was a ladies' man. He often made me blush with his insane flirting, but I quickly learned I could use his flirtiness to my advantage. I asked him if he could give my car a push so I could get it started. He pulled the forklift behind my car, lowered the blades that picked up crates so they went under the car and gave the car a gentle nudge.

Wow! That was so much easier than pushing the car in the Missouri heat and humidity. And because he was a crazy flirt, he offered to do it every day. LUCKY ME! All I had to do when it was time to leave for the day was call the loading dock and Ladies' Man and his forklift would come running.

One day, he lowered the blades and nudged my car forward. I let out the clutch but nothing happened and the car rolled to a stop. Instead of waving goodbye to Ladies' Man, I motioned for him to try again. Instead of the car starting in the parking lot like it always had, we tried again and again. And again. He suggested we get out on the road where he could push a little faster and see if that did the trick. It didn't. We tried several more times, that forklift getting further and further from its loading dock.

I was beginning to think I'd have to call my dad to tell him there was more wrong than just the starter.

The starter! Oh yeah. Even though the starter wasn't necessary, turning the key to the "on" position was. And I'd forgotten. After months of starting the car this way, I'd forgotten.

I turned the key to the "on" position, motioned for Ladies' Man to try "just one more time," and what do you know. The car started right up. I waved goodbye and he drove the forklift back to the loading dock.

I never told him what I did, but the next day I brought him cookies for his kindness. Which only made him think I liked him. That gave me a whole new problem to solve.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is hilarious. Probably because I did the same thing on a very early, very dark, very cold winter morning,on very icy streets, with my poor husband pushing our very heavy old car all alone. We went around the block as I tried to start the car over and over and he couldn't figure out why it wouldn't start this time! Suddenly, my brain kicked in, and I reached down and turned on the key! Voila! It started on the next try! Needless to say, I did not share my forgetfulness until many years later. By then we could laugh at the experience. LMH

Edonna said...

I had my roadshow costume on (gypsy or harem-type dancing girl?) and a carload (station wagon) of friends. The tradition was that after roadshows were over, we headed to Farrell's Ice Cream parlor at the Cerritos Mall to eat ice cream and sing the songs at the top of our lungs. I looked down and saw the gas gauge on empty. A real gauge with a needle, no "idiot' light. So we needed gasoline (99¢). I pulled into the station and called my dad-no cell phone-but a phone booth was one every corner. He sounded surprised and told me to put some in. I proceeded to go through the process. I was laughing and chatting with the carload of friends when I happened to look down. Gasoline was gushing all over my feet! I was flustered; my sister was laughing at me and told the attendant "We only let her out sometimes."
Later, checking with Dad, when I had called to report in, he thought the gas had been stolen; it was SOOO expensive that siphoning wasn't unheard of. Because he had just filled up the tank, he knew it shouldn't be empty.
Turned out the gas gauge was in need of repair/replacement. I was topping off a full tank!

Chinese fire drills anyone?

I hit an ambulance once, just barely. Didn't even hear it coming.

Leslie said...

i loved that van. as a very little girl, i remember watching mom push that van and thinking in my mind 'my mom is so strong.'

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