Houston, We Have a Problem

When I went home last week to spend some time with my family, I met up with a couple of old high school friends. Tory had just moved into his new home and was anxious to show it to me. As we moved from room-to-room I couldn’t help but notice that Tory had some interesting turtle figurines in just about every room. I asked about them and was treated to a wonderful story about Houston, Texas and a borrowed Acura TL.

Tory and his brother, along with their mother and significant others, were visiting Houston, Texas where baby sister was getting married. Tory’s mom is a wedding planner and she was quite busy with the arrangements for Alenna’s upcoming wedding, however the boys and their mates were ready to do a bit of sight-seeing. Their future brother-in-law loaned Tory and crew a cute little Acura TL for getting around.

I don’t know what sights they were seeing, but sometime during the second day of their stay the trouble light lit up the car dashboard and Tory decided the polite thing to do would be to take the car in for an oil change. Since the car bore a sticker from a prominent Houston auto-repair shop that’s where Tory called to schedule the maintenance. Happily, they weren’t too far from a shopping plaza so lunch and souvenir buying were scheduled as well.

Tory said several hours passed. They were shopped out, tired of carrying packages around, and still waiting for their car. He called the repair shop a number of times only to be told the car wasn’t ready yet. It was taking so long they suspected a local refinery must have been manufacturing the car oil especially for them. Finally the mechanic called and told them that their brake job was done. Since he’d taken the car in for an oil change, that wasn’t the announcement Tory wanted to hear.

After much arguing and kerfuffle-ing, the car received it’s oil change and that is the repair bill Tory paid. The family reclaimed their borrowed car and drove away, however they hadn’t gotten very far when one of the ladies let out a shriek and announced there was a reptile under the seat. Since Texas is known for rattlesnakes, nobody asked any questions. Tory pulled over and they all bailed from the car.

They stood alongside the road trying to decide what they should do when Tory’s SIL said she didn’t care how they got rid of the beast, she wasn’t getting back in the car with that ugly turtle.  Tory was flabbergasted.  He couldn’t believe they had bailed out of the car over a turtle.  He double checked and sure enough, there was a little turtle about the size of a tea saucer under the front passenger seat.  Tory called his future brother-in-law who denied all knowledge of a turtle in his car.  Tory called the car shop, who denied all knowledge of a turtle in the car.  Concerned that he might have someone’s illegal pet, Tory took the turtle to a pet store and was told it was an ordinary turtle, not a desert species or endangered.

So, to bring this long story to a close, Tory purchased an aquarium and supplies for the turtle.  He spent a week trying to find the turtle’s owner, and finally came to the decision to keep it.  Tory shipped the turtle and the aquarium home.  And now whenever he travels he picks up a turtle, but after the expense of that first one he’s restricted his collection to brass, glass, wood, ceramic, etc.

Timing Belts & Transmissions

I have a rental car I hate with a passion. It is off my list of cars I will ever drive again. The dang thing is a Mazda 3. Very sporty looking and sleek, but looks don’t make a quality car.

This particular car is supposedly an automatic, but after I put it in drive, I still have to shift it from drive one to drive 5. I wasn’t told how to operate the car. No manual came in the glove box. I learned by hit and miss — mostly miss, no dents thank heavens — while jerking around up and down the streets.

My experience with this car reminded me of an adventure a former roommate had with her Honda Accord.  Sue and I shared an apartment in 1978 during the year I lived in L.A.  She headed for San Francisco to her brother’s college graduation.  She took off in her shiny little silver-blue Honda for her very first “road-trip” without her mommy and daddy.  The car was new to her, but it was used and — unbeknown to her — not in as good a shape as it appeared to be.

She said she’d barely cleared the outskirts of L.A. (not a short drive) when the car started lurching and acting up.   She thought it was just the wind and the big trucks on the road.  Then she stopped at a rest area to freshen up, and had a heck of a time starting the car, but it finally did start.

Back on the road she determined not to stop again until she got to S.F., but that just wasn’t realistic.  For one thing she needed gas.  That time when she stopped the car it wouldn’t start again.  She called her daddy.  He called a tow truck to deliver the car to some San Francisco auto repair shop.

Sue’s car was fitted for a new timing belt and she was able to pick it up just in time to drive home. However, about half-way home her carburetor went out. She had that repaired – -again with daddy’s help, only to have the transmission go shortly after she got home.

Now, to tell you the truth, my rental car doesn’t appear to be broken, but the lurching about it did while I was learning to switch gears has linked it forever in my mind with Sue’s blue lemon.