Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Loser (Ongoing) Part 2: License to Drive

In an earlier post (Work and Wage (Ongoing) part 3), I gave a somewhat long list of the jobs I’ve occupied in my short time on this planet, and have now received quite a number of emails regarding it. The list circulated the internet to a very small degree, but enough people seemed to have enjoyed it that I’ve decided to continue this, by creating an ongoing segment entitled, The Loser, in which I will offer another list, each post. This particular entry you’re reading is a sad little list of vehicles I’ve owned, and what happened to them.

Type of Vehicle: Big Wheel
Model: Tonka - Unknown
Length of Ownership: One year
Manner of Loss: This was my first vehicle, and more than likely, the second best I’ve ever managed to drive. I rode this wonderful artifact around my neighborhood for a year when I was two/three years old and generally thought I was the shit when on it. The outcome of this vehicle is a bold foreshadow of what I could expect of future vehicles. I parked it in the driveway improperly, left it there for a bit, and when I returned, found a large blue van parked atop it. The van belonged to a musician friend of my father’s. Having destroyed my youth in such a crushing manner, the man was duly apologetic and felt quite bad about the whole thing, even offering to purchase me a new one. This is proper driver etiquette, yes, and we exchanged our information, as is correct, but nothing could replace a loss of this magnitude. I railed at the gods over the death of my big wheel.

Type of Vehicle: Dirt bike
Model: Schwinn Stingray
Length of Ownership: Seven years
Manner of Loss: This represents the longest span of time, by a very wide margin, that I ever maintained a single vehicle. My parents had me pick this bike, my first, right off the lot, in preparation for my fourth birthday. I received the bike beneath a busted pinata in a park in Santa Rosa, California, while wearing a conical birthday hat. Getting on it for the first time completely overran any annoyance I was then experiencing over some other kid having been the one to bust open my pinata. It was a blue Schwinn Stingray, became my best friend, and would see me through many adventures. For instance, the adventure of riding through glass, which I did whenever possible, the adventure of getting knocked off the bike by a little girl smashing a glass coke bottle into my forehead and causing me to get strangely sleepy for a while, the adventure of screaming as I pedaled harder than any boy has ever pedaled, a Rottweiler behind me by twenty feet, bearing down on me with a vicious snarl, having left his dead rat behind in favor of eating a small boy... the adventures go on. This bike was also a chick magnet, as every little girl in the neighborhood chased me whenever I drew near on it, for reasons similar to that of the above-mentioned Rottweiler. I stopped riding this bike when I grew too large for it, at around seven years old, though did manage to keep it safe and sound in the garage until I was eleven, when it was exhumed to show some other ten-year-olds, then left in the driveway, and run over by a red Toyota pickup then driven by my father.

Type of Vehicle: Dirt bike
Model: Huffy Lightning
Length of Ownership: Eight days
Manner of Loss: Theft. My father had moved us to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, in Golden, Colorado. I didn’t know what to expect of this place in the world, other than it would supposedly be quite different from the places I’d lived previous: San Jose, Petaluma, a trailer park outside Fort Benning in Georgia, and a few cities in Washington. So, we moved into this tiny suburb in the mountains. As a treat, when we first moved there, I was bought a new bike. This was ideal, as our strange suburban neighborhood (I’d never seen, nor lived in the suburbs before), was sprawled out for what seemed like half a mile or more, and there were side streets everywhere that wound around to other side streets. I was stoked. This turned out to be the most violent place I ever lived as well. Gangsta rap had just started hitting the airwaves and a lot of the neighborhood kids spent their days beating the shit out of each other in small groups. After eight days of owning it, my bike was stolen in the wee hours of the night. It was depressing. I’d lived in areas that you could rightfully call ghettos before, and in trailer parks, but no one had ever stolen from me. Two years later, the day my family loaded up a U-haul to move to Oregon, I was informed by a friend I’d made, Ben, about who stole my bike, as he had found out. The thief was this fat kid I’d actually befriended while living in that neighborhood. He’d stolen my bike and then kept it from me for two straight years. For anyone interested, and for him, if that thief ever reads this: Go to hell, Corey Brown. I want my fucking bike back.

Type of Vehicle: Mountain bike
Model: Huffy Thunder
Length of Ownership: One year
Manner of Loss: I rode this poor thing to its death. It was a Christmas gift when my family relocated to Eugene, Oregon. It was always breaking, the gears ceased being useable one by one, until I was stuck in the most difficult gear perpetually, with brakes that did nothing but look like brakes, and pedals that would occasional lock up, meaning that I couldn’t keep my feet flat on them as they’d rotate over with every pedal. Obnoxious. I had started my freshman year at Willamette High School and rode my bike to school and back. There was a day near winter break when I was stuck by a car while riding through a crosswalk. The woman driving hadn’t been watching the road, but turned around nearly backwards in her driver’s seat beating her kids in the back seat. WHAM! Me up against the windshield. The car slid to a stop, I climbed off her hood, got my bike. She asked if I was okay, I said I didn’t know, but seemed all right, and hen she drove off. I limped home and, to this day, my shins still hurt if I press on them, sixteen years later. There was also a day toward the end of the year when I pulled a wheelie out in front of the school, on my way home. Less than a second into it, the front wheel simply fell off (this was before most bikes came with lock-nuts), and I came down on the bare forks, flipped over the handlebars and ground the side of my face into hamburger for about twenty feet. I wasn’t fond of this bike, though it was far less fond of me.

Type of Vehicle: Dirt bike
Model: Mongoose FS1
Length of Ownership: Five years
Manner of Loss: I bought this at a garage sale one afternoon, for $50, and it was the most reliable and excellent piece of machinery I have ever owned, even to this day (although the Kitchen-aid ranks up there pretty close). I rode this nonstop for years. I was into trick, so learned a plethora of neat little things. I could megaspin, footplant, all that, and I even own a video of me backflipping on it for the first time. I was into bikes, rode hard, was constantly speeding into dangerous environments and ill-conceived jump setups, and this was the best one for it. It weighed in heavy, which was just what I needed. Eventually, I got a license, lived on my own, had a job, was going to community college, and had no time for it, so I gave it away, drunkenly, to a friend of mine who was a genius at putting together new sorts of bikes. Ten years later, I ran into him and he gave me the frame back. One day, I’ll rebuild this amazing machine and apes will dance and kill one another before it like the monolith in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Type of Vehicle: Automobile
Model: 1979 Plymouth Volare
Length of Ownership: Nine months
Manner of Loss: This was my first car. It cost $300 and was a big hunk of awful shit. It was a station wagon and I basically obliterated it over a period of nine months. It didn’t run well, had leaks everywhere, was beat up, and not aligned at all. At one point, while pulling down toward the highway in it, some rednecks ran up to my car and wanted to attack me. I don’t know why. But I told them it’d be more fun to beat up my car, so they did. One of them broke his hand punching my door. But, thanks to that car, I didn’t get punched, myself. Later, I slid off an embankment and down into someone’s yard, nearly putting the grill of this station wagon through the wall of their recreation room. I had it pulled out with a towtruck and got in quite a bit of trouble with law-enforcement for leaving the scene of the crime (though I only left for five minutes to find a phone and report the situation (this was a time before cell phones)). The house I nearly took out appeared to have furniture and belongings in it, but looked unlived in. It was later discovered to be a summer home for some guy, and he most likely never found out about any of it. This vehicle finally faced it’s end when the transmission went out while pulling into the parking lot of the DMV. I left it there overnight and when I returned, it had been towed away. I had no money (making about $320 a month in the fast food industry), and the days piled up, as well as the towing fee, until I owed more than I’d paid for the car, then twice as much, then quadruple... Eventually, I jokingly gave the title to a young Elijah Brubaker, and told him if he ever wanted a car, he could go and claim it.

Type of Vehicle: Automobile
Model: 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Length of Ownership: Eight months
Manner of Loss: I drove this vehicle well. It cost me $700 and was a dark blue. It had a V8, which meant lesser gas mileage, though it was extremely responsive and I drove it up to Portland and parts beyond many times in the eight months I drove it. It had a stigma attached to it, however, as Monte Carlos tended to be the new meth-mobiles in town. All the dealers and tweakers had Monte Carlos, I don’t know why. I lost this vehicle when, driving out to the beach one night, I lost control of the vehicle, spun around, almost had control returned, but then just spun the other way and then I wrapped it backwards around a tree after launching from a curvy road into the woods. A friend of mine gutted the interior and installed the seats in his truck, which was odd, in exchange for taking the wreckage off my hands. Amazingly, the car still started and drove after this, but not for me. I had the friend remove it. This was probably my favorite of the cars I’ve owned. Until I destroyed it, it was extremely reliable.

Type of Vehicle: Automobile
Model: 1976 Ford Thunderbird
Length of Ownership: Four months
Manner of Loss: This is the most annoying of the situations I ended up in concerning vehicles. I bought this car after finding a job in Coos Bay (no small feat), and parked it in front of my apartment. It was maroon, gigantic, and had a kind of roving look to it I enjoyed. I didn't have a license at this point, having not renewed it, and was not insured, so the car was going to stay with me, at my apartment, until I had a license and insurance. I paid $400 for it, which was a great deal, as it was in excellent condition and ran superbly. So good a deal, I bought it without even being able to use it, yet. Eventually, enough shit had hit enough fans and I joined the U.S. Military, leaving the vehicle with my parents while I went off to basic training. Two weeks later, I was back in my little town again, having 'failed to adjust'. I went to pick up my car to discover that my dad had sold it while I was gone. Not two weeks, and he'd sold it, though he was supposed to be holding on to it for me. Well, it sucked for me, and it ended up sucking for him, as the guy he sold it to never paid him, and then, finally, it sucked for that guy, too, because he drove it into the back of a police cruiser on the highway. So, it seemed everyone involved had taken a bite from the shit sandwich at some point, concerning this vehicle. Still, it was $400 bucks I was out, not to mention I had no car to drive when I got my license back, which, it turned out was only a few weeks away.
Type of Vehicle: Automobile
Model: 1981 Chevrolet Chevette
Length of Ownership: One year
Manner of Loss: I bought this car from a friend of my little brother for $30, total. I think he was trying to score a bag of weed, so only asked $30 for the car. It only ran on two of it’s four cylinders, had a hole in the floor so large that when it rained, if I drove through a puddle, it would splash water up into the car and soak my crotch as I drove. The windows wouldn’t roll down anymore though I managed to rig up a system for lowering the driver’s window, the AC was home to a colony of spiders and, I suspected, a mouse, and virtually nothing regarding this vehicle was correct when it came to proper function. I couldn’t even adjust the seats, as the splashing of water through the floorboards had rusted the mechanism in place. To my utter amazement, I was hired to deliver pizzas in this vehicle, which couldn’t have possibly passed the inspection they gave it. I delivered pizzas in this heap for months, wet-crotched, freezing, slowly crawling along, unable to take any route that involved going up a hill, no matter how slight. The wipers didn’t work either, and when it rained (Oregon always rains), I had to just keep driving until the water all pooled together on the windshield and created a complete, single sheen across it, so I could see. Until this occurred, however, or on misty nights, I had to drive with my head out the window. Once, during a particularly windy night while on delivery, my hood flew up and completely obfuscated my view. I thrust down the window and stuck my head outside to discover I was then between two semis, with a car in front of me and two motorcycles tailgating me, which made it so I actually had to drive in this manner, with the hood up against my windshield, at 45 mph in tight conditions, for around twenty seconds before someone finally let me pull off the road. What happened to this little, vibrating nightmare of a car? I got a hundred bucks trade-in on it, which was over three times what I paid for it, when I bought my Pontiac 6000, of which you'll read shortly.

Type of Vehicle: Borrowed Automobile
Model: Geo Metro
Length of Ownership: N/A
Manner of Loss: I didn't actually own this vehicle, but I certainly destroyed it. While on a trip to Portland with my friend John Densmore, to see his band perform at La Luna, John's mom (the owner of the Geo Metro we were in) asked me to drive everyone to a Denny's, as I'd lived in Portland before. I didn't think it was a good idea, as I wasn't insured and had such bad luck with vehicles. Everyone agreed it would be fine, and that we weren't going anywhere difficult or anything. Reluctantly, I agreed. While driving through the Chinatown area of downtown Portland, I noticed hundreds of pairs of feet sticking out in the street. The rose parade was going to occur in the morning, and there were people and cars parked and camping alongside all of the downtown streets. This was odd and difficult to manage driving through. We reached an intersection that had no stopsign or light, so I continued through and was immediately struck by a very large and brand-new Dodge Ram. We spun around and around, stopped, and were generally screwed. After the wreck, I tried to figure out what had happened, who was at fault, etc. It was me. There was no stoplight overhead, true, and no stopsign either. What there was, however, was a stoplight on a pole on the LEFT side of the street, which was blocked by a truck, hence why I didn't see it. Also, I'd never seen a sign or light on the left side of the street before. Either way, I screwed up and destroyed mama Densmore's car. And worse, we certainly didn't make it to Denny's.

Type of Vehicle: Automobile
Model: 1988 Pontiac 6000
Length of Ownership: Eight months
Manner of Loss: Having done so well with the $30 car, and having not wrecked or destroyed anything that was mine in the last year or so, I felt I’d passed some sort of driver basic training. I was a hardened driver, at this point, and had seen or handled just about everything a car could throw at me. So, I finally saved up enough to buy a newer car. Not very new, but newer. I bought a used Pontiac 6000, which, by the time I purchased it, was the next of the meth-mobiles in town. All the dealers had Pontiac 6000s and Ford Taurus’. A few Crown Victorias and molester vans, too. So, as with previous cars, I was pulled over constantly. This vehicle handled itself well and got me where I needed to go. After eight months, the engine burned up in the middle of nowhere (Also referred to as Gold Beach, Oregon), and left me, as well as three friends, including the ever-present Elijah Brubaker, hitch-hiking. We were picked up by a softball coach in a mini-van, dropped off in Gold Beach, and I then tried to find some sort of transportation for us. There was none. No busses ran through there, no taxis, nothing. It was the fourth of July, as well, so everything was closed. In the end, I bought a car from a hideous and strange man that lived in the woods outside Gold Beach, for $400. The man told us his name was ‘Cokehead Rick’, and he was frightening, indeed. He also had Rottweilers on his ‘ranch’ that killed deer for him and drug the carcasses back, so he didn’t have to go hunting himself, his dogs did all the killing for him. We got away from this man as soon as possible.

Type of Vehicle: Automobile
Model: 1979 Dodge Colt
Length of Ownership: Five months
Manner of Loss: The excellent vehicle I purchased from ‘Cokehead Rick’ on his mutilation and death ranch. This vehicle broke down and refused to run exactly one mile from the above-mentioned ranch, where I bought the vehicle. Not five minutes had passed and it was broken down. Cokehead Rick drove by in his molester van and waved at us, then disappeared down the road to town. We managed to get it running after awhile (not a one of us knew anything about fixing cars or diagnosing their problems), and we finished our roadtrip. The passenger window was gone, as was a huge chunk of that door, and so it was cardboarded up with duct tape. The car turned out to be stolen, but I had possession of it, and the original owner was in prison anyway, so eventually, I was awarded the right to register it in my name and whatnot. This vehicle ran all right, but I had to learn to drive a stick-shift in about ten minutes with no instruction. Surprisingly, I just sort of knew how to do it, somehow. This car had leaks and filled with water easily, but I tried to take care of it as well I could. It broke down, though with no major condition, and I had to park it in front of my apartment until I could pay to get it fixed. Eventually, due to lost employment and an apartment I had only days to vacate due to my inability to pay, I had to leave the car behind. The landlord kept it, as well as most of my belongings in the apartment (it’s pretty humbling having to move out of your living space and only being able to take what you can, literally, carry. It also enlightens you as to what’s actually important to you. I left with a duffel bag of filled writing folders and a guitar).

Type of Vehicle: Dirt bike
Model: Mongoose, though with no model apparent
Length of Ownership: three years
No Manner of Loss: After the loss of the stolen Dodge Colt that Cokehead Rick sold me in the middle of nowhere near his museum of homicidal animals, I didn’t drive for quite some time. Eh, indefinitely, actually, as I still don’t drive. It’s just not in me anymore. For me, cars are bad luck, which is why my current vehicle is perfect for me. I went back to my roots and found the only vehicle that had been good to me. A green mongoose bike. It’s not my old FS1, though I do have that frame if I ever get around to it, but this bike is fine, and gets me around my little town quickly and expertly. It’s getting a bit rusted (Again, Oregon is always raining), so I have some parts I want to replace. For now, however, this is all the transportation this loser wants or needs.

So there it is. My life in vehicles. If in the future, you find yourself driving along and see me in your rear-view mirror, my advice is to just let me pass. You don’t want to end up as a sub-character in one of these entries, unless you're Elijah Brubaker, himself, as he and I seem to be the only people to have come through all of this car-wrecking and breakdowns unscathed. Hope you all enjoyed. As for the next list, prepare your eyes now. It’s going to be a long, long read, when I get it written and posted. It’s a list of the schools I’ve attended. Oh, I know. Big deal. Everybody goes to school, right? So what if I went to a few of them. That doesn’t necessarily make for an interesting list to read, right?

I went through 19 of them before junior high.


Aunt Sandy said...

You forgot to mention the pink bike you inherited from me. What ever happend to that one? and you were lucky your dad...(my big brother) didn't modify them too much, I was the only kid on the block with long forks on the frt of my tricycles, I was like Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider by the time I could ride one!! :-)

... aunt sandy

Ray Succre said...

Pink one? I don't remember a pink one. Can you recall anything I did on it? I'd like to add it if I can remember it at all. The notion I might have had to ride a pink, hand-me-down girl's bike deserves an entry.

sandy said...

It was my Sears Pink Spider bike, with a white seat and it was the bomb!!! I left it at your grandmothers and you and your brother did mean things to it. Dunno what happened to it :0( I loved my bike, brother put that thing together for me one christmas. I watched him do it from the staircase when whe lived in So. Cal.... it was my surpise that year... I have pictures.....

Aunt Sandy said...

Or maybe it was a Schwinn.....