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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Two Is Not Always Better Than One

Two is not Always Better Than One

Let’s go back to Thanksgiving Day 1979. That day, Thanksgiving dinner was at Granny-for Short’s house.  Boy, could Granny-For-Short, my mama, and Aunt Gloria cook!

The family’s Western Auto Store was open that day since there was no reason to close.  Every Thanksgiving that we tried to close, dozens of customers would show up at the house needing something.

"Aunt so and so’s car broke while she was down and I need a set of spark plug wires to get her going." " I decided to change my oil since I had the day off and I need an oil filter to get it done right."

Well, I waddled up from Granny-For-Short’s house to McClendon Manor.  Then, my friend called and asked if I wanted to go with him so see Animal House at the movies.  Nothing else was on the boards so, I said sure.

I had recently cleaned out my 1974 Monte Carlo and restocked the rescue supplies I had in it. I, then, took the radio out of it. I won’t be on call tonight, so why take the radio?

I picked my friend up at his house and we headed to the Osteen to see the movie Animal House.  While we were there, he ran into an old friend.  He decided to walk his friend out to her car since it was dark outside. 

All of my friends had keys to my car back then in case I had a rescue call while we were out and I had to jump in the back of an ambulance.  That way they could get back home.

I came outside the movie theater and saw my friend sitting on a short pole drinking pineapple juice out of a cup. He said, “Hey, Bird, where’s your car?”

I thought that since he had a key, he had moved it and was joking.  When he flagged down the city police as they were patrolling the area, I knew he was not joking.

Well, my car had been stolen.  All the rescue gear and about five pounds of red, Georgia clay that I could not get out after the races. That is why my mom gave me this car.  She wanted one that did not have all that dust in it.

Years later, I had all my final media arts projects in my 1982 Mercury Marquis. I had the raw footage and the final footage of an interview I had via telephone with the sound effects engineer from Star Wars.  That is a long story, too.

I thought, I better be extra careful with this car right now.  I parked it under a street light.  This particular street light was dead center in front of the University of South Carolina Campus Police Station.  Who is going to break into a car directly in front of a police station, under a street light?

Well, it happened.  The car and all its contents were stolen.  I walked inside the police station to report the theft.  At least I did not have far to go to report the theft, right?

Wrong.  As I was told by the police officer of the campus police, my car was on city property so I could not file the claim in the campus police station. I would have to call the city. 

I asked to borrow the phone.  I was told by the officer that the campus police phones were for official police business only.  I said, "I am a student here at the university.  My car was stolen directly in front of this police station.  WHAT COULD BE MORE OFFICIAL IN A POLICE STATION THAN REPORTING A CRIME?"  I was told to leave immediately.

I walked up the street to what was called the University Physical Plant.  I made the call and was told a city officer would respond shortly.  I went outside to wait for the officer.  A city meter wagon pulled up a few minutes later.  I thought, “That was quick.”

Yep, that was too quick.  What happened was that I was issued a warning ticket by the city police for loitering and told to wait inside the building for the officer.  About an hour later, the cops showed up.  They took a statement and told me they would be looking for the car.

15 days later I received a phone call from a local towing company.  It seems the police already had recovered my car when I reported it as stolen.  It had been sitting in the tow yard for 15 days.  If the car was still on the lot by the close of business that day, I would have to pay 100 per day for every day it had been on the lot. 

I called a couple of my friends and we went to get the car.  By this time, I had a new to me car.  The problem was one person could not have two cars on campus at the same time.  I had to recruit a friend to drive the car back to Iva from Columbia. 

We stopped to get gas and noticed a strange sound coming from under the hood of the recently stolen car.  Some idiot had taken the Ford battery out of the car and replaced it with a Chevrolet battery.  The reason that makes a difference is that the positive and negative poles are on opposite sides from one another.

They had taken a coat hanger and used it as a jumper wire to make the battery cable long enough to reach the positive terminal.  Why someone did this was anyone’s guess.  While my friends and I were standing there looking at this, the wire caught fire.  There was too much electricity trying to pass thought the coat hanger wire at one time.  They had shorted out the voltage regulator and it did not shut down the system like it should have.

I put the fire out with sand.  We loaded in the Grand Prix I was driving and headed to the parts store.  I bought two new battery cables and a voltage regulator.  We got the car going again and made it back to Iva.

Soon, the Grand Prix would die.  But, that is another story.

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  1. This was a fun read about years gone by, although i would not have been happy to know my car had been sitting in impound all that time!

    1. This is true. The sad thing is that when I reported it stolen, the police already had the car. It had been abandoned when it ran out of gas. All the stuff, my final projects and more, were gone. The only thing actually taken off the car was the battery. It made no sense to take one battery out and put another back in. Just goes to prove, crooks are stupid. The first car, Bird-1, was stripped. On it, they took the tires and wheels off the car but did not take the spare tire. They were in the trunk so that made no sense at all.

  2. Murphy's law sure applied to that story. :)

    1. Murphy's law and the law of infinite stupid on the part of the police who would not let me use the phone. Thanks for commenting.


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