This story is a follow up to a another story I wrote a few months ago titled, “Ridin’ Ghetto.” If you haven’t read that one and want to, you can do so here… http://ricoswaff.com/blog1/?cat=8
If you haven’t read “Ridin’Ghetto” and don’t feel like doing so right now, then let me summarize for you. Off and on for the past 5 years I have driven a blue 1989 Jeep Cherokee. This Jeep was initially reliable and actually kind of cool in a vintage sort of way, but year after year, it accumulated more and more problems. Eventually it became my families’ “last resort” vehicle. If there is something wrong with every vehicle in our possession, then you drive the jeep. In November of 2008, the engine in the Chevy Cavalier I was driving took a huge, greasy dump. The engine was blown. We decided not to repair it, which meant that I was stuck driving the jeep for what ended up being the next 10 months. In a nutshell, here are some of the things that went wrong with the jeep:
1.)The speedometer was stuck, therefore I never had any idea how fast or slow I was driving.
2.)The manual locks in the jeep would routinely stick, making it a war to get in and out of my vehicle at times.
3.)The air conditioning quit working.
4.) The heat quit working, which especially sucked for me since I am allergic to cold. When my skin is exposed to cold weather, my veins and arteries constrict and my skin becomes a deep red color and swells up like a balloon. As a result of this, I had to wear a ski-mask in my jeep every time the weather was cold.
5.) My stereo system went out, which resulted in me being forced to use a Discman in order to hear some tunes.
6.)If the manual windows were rolled down past the “half-way down” point, I had to struggle and push with all my might while turning the lever simultaneously just to get the window up.
7.)If I tried turning the bright lights on, it would shut off my lights completely. This was extremely frustrating in the scenarios where one of my friends was the designated driver and I absent-mindedly neglected to inform them of this. I bet there were at least 4-5 occasions where one of my friends were driving my jeep home from the bars and tried turning the bright lights on. This always created an incredible panic amongst my drunk-ass friends and I when we realized that we were traveling on the highway in pitch dark without the lights on.
8.)One problem with the jeep that I failed to mention on the original “Ridin’ Ghetto” story is that the left turning signal would stick after using it. I can’t even count the amount of times I would be driving on the highway and unexpectedly come to the realization that I had driven 30 miles with my left turning signal on.
When a vehicle stoops to the level of this particular jeep’s “ghetto-fabulosity,” one would think that there is nothing else that could possibly go wrong before the thing just stops running, right? WRONG!!! The vehicle continued to systematically deteriorate.
First off, the jeep became a trashcan. Around the time I wrote the original “Ridin’ Ghetto” story, I gave up on trying to take care of it. The vehicle had become run-down to the point where it was a difficult task trying to motivate myself to even clean up after myself while driving it. If I purchased something to drink, I would throw the empty bottle on the floor after finishing it. If I picked up something to eat at McDonalds, I would throw the empty bags and containers on the floor. If I bought a CD or DVD at Best Buy, where would I put the wrappers and sacks they came in? You guessed it, on the floor…where they belong.
Prior to throwing trash on the floor of my jeep I remember regularly thinking to myself, “should I take better care of this vehicle? Nahhh, who am I trying to impress? And if I was trying to impress someone, I would fail the mission even if it wasn’t trash-infested because this ride is trash itself.”
Looking back, I now regret having that attitude. I mean, its not like I paid for it. It was given to me by my parents, and I‘m freaking 26 years old. Therefore, my complaints and confessions of treating it like a trashcan may make me come off as a whiney, spoiled little biznatch. Which isn’t necessarily true. I think a frustrated little biznatch is a more appropriate description of me in this situation.
In the original “Ridin’ Ghetto’” story, I expressed my refusal to install a new CD player in the jeep, because it would be like dressing “Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo” in pimp clothes. In fact, it would be like putting ranch dressing on a turd salad. The ranch dressing is nice and adds flavor, but it doesn’t change the fact that the primary ingredient in the salad (besides lettuce) is a turd. Same thing goes for the jeep. Sure, having some tunes would be nice, but it wouldn’t change the overall driving experience from bad to good. I would continue to be consistently annoyed with the array of other various glitches the jeep already has.
When July of ‘09 came along, I broke down and bought a CD player, contradicting these beliefs of mine. I think I did this because Lollapalooza was just around the corner, and I was desperate and antsy to listen to tunes at the time. I bought a Clarion car stereo at a pawn shop in Muscatine, IA. This stereo looked like something the “Encino Man” would have listened to (in 1992 of course.) It was $35 and included the wiring harness.
When I began installation of the stereo, I soon discovered that the wiring of the stereo was not even remotely compatible with the wiring situation in the jeep. I then went online to research how to properly wire an ancient Clarion stereo. I thought I had it figured out, so I went outside and spent 2-3 hours attempting to successfully wire the stereo. I gave up when I connected two wires and was mildly electrocuted. Those two wires were obviously not compatible with each other. I then said, “screw it” and threw the stereo on the floor of the jeep with the rest of the trash.
I then proceeded to start the jeep and move it away from the garage so my mom could fit her truck in when she got home. When I did this, I noticed yet another glitch had been created for the wonderful jeep. The illumination on the dashboard had gone completely out. This didn’t really matter for the speedometer and bright lights. Those already didn’t work. However, this would prevent me from knowing how much gas I had in the tank while driving at night. It also prevented me from knowing what the engine temperature was in the vehicle. So if I was running on fumes at night, I would not know it.
If my car was over-heating and about to catch on fire, I would not know that either. I would just have to face the music and watch the thing burn if it got to that point, considering I made it outside of the jeep in time. I continued driving the jeep with these additional problematic circumstances for yet another 2 months.
Eventually these problems accumulated to the point where I couldn’t tolerate it anymore. The last straw came at the beginning of September. It was about 8:00 PM, and I was driving on the highway on my way to my parents’ house to see how they were doing. On the highway, the first 3 cars that passed by me flashed their lights at me. It was obvious that something was wrong with my vehicle, but I couldn’t figure out what it was yet. After a few minutes it hit me. I had no idea if my lights were working or not. The moon was shining and my eyesight is awesome, so I could see everything fine. I just had no idea if my lights were on.
I pulled over to the shoulder of the road, and sure enough, the lights in my car were out. I sat there just shaking my cranium in disbelief for a few minutes. I started to fiddle around with the lights and every gadget in the jeep to see if I could get my lights to work again.
Ironically, I wasn’t able to get my regular lights to start working again, but I was able to get the bright lights to work. The same bright lights that had been acting up for a year were working again, but that was all that worked. This meant that I had to drive at night with my bright lights on at all times, which was inevitably going to piss some people off. That night I decided once and for all….I could not drive that jeep any more. I didn’t care what I had to do, but I needed something different.
I called Delzell Motors near Morning Sun, IA the next day and asked if they had anything for $6-10 grand that looked nice and got decent gas mileage. The dude on the phone told me they had a 2004 Dodge Neon SXT which fit that description. I told them I would be over to check it out in 15 minutes.
When I arrived, I spoke with the sales representative for a few minutes when someone pulled up with the car I was there to look at.
Before I could turn around, the sales rep said to me, “so do you like yellow?” I responded with, “well it sticks out.” I hadn’t ever really thought about driving a yellow car before. At that point I didn’t care and told him that I would buy it if they could seal the deal before 2:00 PM when I had to leave for a meeting. He negotiated with my bank and I purchased a car in less than 2 hours.
This was my first time buying my own car, and if I would have known the process was that easy, it would have been done a long time ago. The car has been running like a peach for me so far.
Although the jeep’s overwhelming imperfections do give it a bit of personality, I am proud to say that the “Ridin’ Ghetto” chapter of my life has seemingly come to a conclusion.