By Virgil Vaupel
Thanks For Listening 

Cruisin' Around In My 1996 Ford Crown Victoria

My Apologies To One And All


A few weeks past I caused an incident in town, which in turn caused much consternation, angst and some downright anger amongst some of the citizenry of our fair village. Please, allow me to explain my deplorable actions.

I had just spent most of a wonderful morning and early afternoon at the doctor place getting poked, prodded and probed and I was in a tizzy.

I thought it might be nice to treat myself after being mis-treated for the past few hours so I stopped by for a burger at one of our local fast food joints. Being old, fat and lazy, I used the drive-thru window.

No sense risking a stroke or heart attack with all that exercise of getting out of my 1996 Ford Crown Victoria ex-cop car with the red doors and spot light and walking all that way into the building. I'm very careful about things like that, you know.

Anyway, I'm waiting patiently for my burger(s), hoping no one I know sees me there but feeling quite safe behind my Foster Grants when at last the kid with the microphone on her head hands me my sack of instant cardiac stress.

“There ya' go,” says she (and most of my 9.3 readers know how I feel about such fine service.)

At any rate, those of you in the know, know that on a 1996 Crown Vic, one must depress the brake pedal in order to get the shifter lever to shift out of park and into the go forward gear. Just one of those keen inventions someone, sadistically bent, invented to aggravate common folk like myself. (Who by-the-by, wish WE had invented the gizmo our own selves).

So setting the bag of burger(s) aside, I started the car, mashed on the brake pedal, grabbed the shifter lever and pulled back to shift into go ahead gear.......

The shift lever didn't move. Not an inch ... Not a silly millimeter.

I mashed harder on the brake. Nothing. I turned the key off, shutting the engine down and restarted the whole process, hoping that my recent discovery that I am afflicted with early forgetheimers had temporarily disabled my think box.

The harder I pulled on the lever the more panicked I got. Then disaster struck. The shift lever broke off locking the transmission in Park.

By now there were a bazillion cars and pickups, a Sherman Tank and some guy in a beat up Studebaker pickup pulling a bass boat wanting to get to their bag of burgers. I was in their way and couldn't move.

I sincerely apologize to the lady in the white van who, I'm sure by her actions and one poignant gesture, was totally convinced I did the whole thing on propose just to 'anger' her off. Lady, I did no such thing!

The manager came out to see what was the problem and I handed him the shifter lever and told him “Fix it”. He said he wasn't allowed to do mechanic work on company time and that I had 10 minutes to rectify the current situation or he would be forced to have my car towed.

I hurried over to the parts store and told Matt the fix I was in and he reached in his back pocket and handed me a tow rope. Doug Page said, “I got a pickup that'll pull you out of there,” and off we went. We arrived at my car to the blaring of horns, clanking of cowbells and I picked up some new words for my vocabulary. Really folks, I did not do this on purpose.

The white Ford pickup did its job, dragging my tires, moved the Vic across the pavement and then the alley. I found myself in relative safety from the angered mob that had appeared, screaming for my blood and wanting a hanging right then and there.

I called Chris and he said he'd hook up a trailer and be there in a phlash. He was – and the real fun began as we tried to drag a car locked in park up the ramps and onto the trailer. (Just for those of you smart alecks who are asking, “Why didn't you just disassemble the u-joints?” We tried. Couldn't get the nuts loose.)

Then we discovered the trailer was just high enough that when the front tires of the car were halfway up the ramp the back bumper dragged on the ground.

We moved things around and got a better grab on the situation, but just as the car was about to “cam over” onto the trailer a couple of bolts holding the mufflers up got caught in a metal strip on the trailer.

Wyatt, Logan and Lee had magically appeared by then, and with all of us bouncing up and down on the trunk the bolts came loose and the car got loaded. (Later on, so did I). We got the car to the house.

Kyle took on the job of replacing the steering column with one he tore out of another car like mine. But even with the different column, it still didn't functionate.

So Kyle rebuilt my old one with parts from the other old one and put mine back in. Still nothing.

Then he did a smart thing. He saw the fuse box just hanging there on the underside of the dash. He pulled out a fuse, looked closely at it and said, “%^(#&* *$ &%@(*&”

I quoted that word for word.

I asked him, “What?” He said “Let's try something.” He went to a cabinet and dug out a fuse. He inserted it, got into the car, turned the key, started the engine, mashed the brake and, voila, the shifter shifted thru reverse, then neutral and then into “go ahead” just as it's supposed to do.

Problem fixed. Moral? “Never, never try the most obvious first.”

So, in closing, I sincerely want to say a sincere, “I'm sorry,” to those hundreds of burger patrons who were inconvenienced by my thoughtlessnessosity.

That's it for now folks. Thanks for listening.


Reader Comments