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Ridin’ Ghetto

Ridin’ Ghetto
By Rico Swafford
Written on 3/11/2009

“They see me rollin
They hatin
Patrolling they tryin to catch me ridin ghetto
Tryin to catch me ridin ghetto
Tryin to catch me ridin ghetto
Tryin to catch me ridin ghetto
Tryin to catch me ridin ghetto
My music so broke
I’m bummin’
They hopin that they gon catch me ridin ghetto
Tryin to catch me ridin ghetto
Tryin to catch me ridin ghetto
Tryin to catch me ridin ghetto
Tryin to catch me ridin ghetto.”

You ever wonder what it is like being me and driving? Probably not, but that set of lyrics right there (a spin off of Chamillionaire’s “Ridin Dirty.”) is what its like.

I was pulled over for speeding today. I had no idea how fast I was driving. You know why? Because the speedometer in the Jeep that I have been driving does not work. As far as I knew, I was only going 0. When I told the cop this, he was very nice and empathetic and ended up just letting me off with a warning. Ya see, that is the main difference between me and Chamillionaire. I am a white boy ridin’ “ghetto,” therefore cops feel sorry for me and let me off with a warning. Chamillionaire is  a black man ridin’ “dirty,” therefore he’d be busted and taken to the “max-pen.” That is the only difference between me and him. Otherwise, you would swear we were twins separated at birth.

I have driven my share of “ghetto-mobiles” throughout my entire life, but none are as “ghetto fabulous” as the one I am driving now. I was driving a less ghetto car for a couple years, but as of recently, that car is pretty much done for. A couple months ago, we took it in to have the transmission looked at. 5 days after getting it back, the engine blew out. Now I think we are just going to junk it. Its done for.

As a result, I am now driving a blue 1989 Jeep Cherokee which I have driven off and on for about 5 years now. It is my family’s last resort vehicle. When your car is being worked on, you drive the Jeep.

I must admit, there is something cool about it in terms of the way it looks, if you are into the “obsolete” look like I am. However, that is the only thing it has going for it. This Jeep basically just starts, runs and lets me know how much gas I have. There is literally nothing else that this Jeep has going for it. Lets do a “run-through” of the “ghetto-fabulosity” associated with this piece of metal on rubber wheels.

1.) When you get into the driver seat and start it up, you will immediately start hearing the most annoying sound in the world. A loud buzzer sound will start ringing in your ears, and it will until you put your seatbelt on. It is so freaking annoying. What in the world were the makers of this particular vehicle thinking? “Ok, so there’s a problem with people not wearing their seatbelts and these people are becoming decapitated in accidents as a result of not wearing them. So how do we ensure that people wear their seatbelt to keep from getting their heads cut off? I KNOW!!! We will design the vehicle to annoy the piss out of the driver until he plugs his seatbelt in. BRILLIANT!!!”

Have you ever “chewed out” a Jeep? Yeah, probably not. I do this on a daily basis. I just can’t get past that buzzer sound. Every time I hear that noise, I tell the Jeep, “Shut the hell up, I don’t need YOU telling me to put my seatbelt on! I will do it myself butt-munch!” People who have seen me do this probably think I have some sort of issues that I need to work out.

2.) The speedometer doesn’t work. No, I am not telling you my favorite excuse to tell cops when I get pulled over. The dang thing seriously does not work. I never have any idea how fast I am going. All I know is that I speed sometimes, because I have been pulled over for speeding twice in that stupid Jeep.

3.) The Windows are manual, and if you roll the window down past the halfway mark, then it will stick and not roll back up. You literally have to pull the window up with your hands while turning the window lever simultaneously.

I am not trying to brag, but I am a pretty strong dude. I can do a lat row sets with a 100 pound dumbell with ease, and I have to absolutely lift with all my strength to get this window up. When I am trying to lift the window up, I have a tendency to get pretty pissed off and shout profanities at it. Its not uncommon to see me battling the window and screaming, “get up you bastard!!!” People who see me yelling this (usually happens at an ATM machine) probably think that I am impotent and mad at my penis(because of yelling “get up you bastard”), have some major financial problems or just plain and simply have some issues that I need to work out.

4.) The heat and air conditioning both went out in it. The lack of heating is the worst. I am allergic to cold. No, I really am. I have a condition called “Cold Urticaria” which basically means that if my skin is exposed to cold, I will break out in hives and my face will become red and swell up. I hate cold weather with a strong passion for this reason.

People who see me ridin’ ghetto in the Jeep during the winter, probably mistake me for a 75 year old man, the way my face swells up. I started wearing a ski mask when I drove, but that attracted some pretty weird looks from people. People look at me as if I robbed a gas station when I am wearing that thing.

So, its either I look like a 75 year old man, or I look like a bank robber when I’m driving the Jeep in cold weather. Yes, a pretty difficult decision, I must say so myself.

The lack of air conditioning is not as difficult as the lack of heating, but it still becomes pretty frustrating. Especially since my window only goes half-way down. People who see me driving in 105 degree weather, with my head gaping out and gasping for air through the limited section of air space in the window, probably think I have some sort of weird issues that I need to work out…but in reality, I’m just trying to freaking breathe.

5.) The bright lights in the car don’t work. Well, how do I explain this. You can turn the brights on and they work, but they don’t come off normally so I can‘t use them. When you turn the bright lights off, the regular lights turn off as well. When this happens, I have to pull over and flip the brights switch over and over until I get it right again. I am petrified of accidentally doing this on a curve and then driving my car over a cliff because I couldn’t see in the dark. There have been a couple times where I forgot that the Jeep did this, and when I met a car on the road and had to turn my brights off, my entire headlight set went off along with it. Imagine how this made the people who were driving towards me feel.

6.) The side mirror on the driver side is broken. One thing I inherited from my mom, is our tendency to run into mailboxes with our cars when we are trying to get the mail. We replaced our mailbox last week because my mom totally leveled it with the driver side mirror on her Buick. The side mirror took the hit pretty badly as well. My mom ended up fixing it with this heavy-duty tape, and taped the side mirror back together. Problem is, she taped the mirror back together too tightly. Therefore the mirror is bent inward and it makes everything look incredibly distorted, like those “crazy mirrors” that you see at amusement parks and carnivals.

I drive the Buick quite a bit when my mom isn’t using it, and let me tell you, that crazy side mirror can scare the chicken nuggets out of you. There have been countless times where I was driving the Buick while there was a car following behind me, and I freaked out because the distortion of the mirror made it look as if a space ship was chasing after me.

This is even more frightening when I am driving in town and there is a jogger running behind me. My initial response is, “Oh shit! Paul freaking Bunyon is chasing me!” Joggers look about 50 foot tall in that mirror. People who have seen me get scared when I look into the side mirror of that Buick probably think I have some major issues to work out.

Ironically, I broke the side mirror to the driver side of the Jeep when I was making an attempt to get the mail. When my dad asked me what happened to the mirror on the Jeep, I did what any loyal, good son would do….I told him my mom probably did it. That sounds horrible, but I knew what I was doing.

First of all, it was a believable excuse. My mom does have kind of a history of not being able to keep a side mirror on any vehicle she drives.

Secondly, my dad loves my mom, and when she does “ditzy” things, my dad loves her for it. When I do “ditzy” things, my dad just thinks I’m a dumbass, so it worked better for both of us.

Anyways, when I hit the mailbox, it just kind of loosened the mirror from the socket. Therefore, when I am driving, the side mirror to the Jeep is jiggling all over the place. When there is a car following me, it looks like the car is flying all over the place, and I immediately feel as if I living a battle from “Star Wars.” When there is a jogger running behind me, it literally looks as if he or she is bouncing off the ground as they are jogging. It is quite trippy, and can scare you if it takes you by surprise.

 The car that I was driving, in which the engine is blown out, is missing the side mirror on the passenger side. This was so weird. I was driving to Sweet Corn Festival in West Point, IA and my friend Nick Breuer was with me. As I was driving down a long, paved road a big hawk came flying out of the ditch and looked like it was going to fly straight through the window and hit Breuer right in the face. However, it swerved at the last second, and ended up flying straight into the side mirror, taking the whole thing completely off the vehicle. That was such a surreal experience. Both of us couldn’t believe what had happened. We didn’t even react until 3 minutes after it happened. After 3 minutes of driving in silence, I finally said to Breuer, “dude did I just hit a hawk with my car?” And Breuer was like, “Uhhh yeah.” This was followed by about 20 minutes of laughter.

7.) The locks are manual, and get stuck easily. With that said, I rarely lock it when I go places. Just try to steal from me. Trust me, there’s probably nothing in there that you can find that is of any sort of value to you.

8.) The CD player broke. A couple years ago, I put a nice Kenwood stereo system in which was probably worth more than the Jeep itself. After about 6 months of utilizing this nice stereo, it decided to go out on me while I was on my way to a wrestling tournament. I figured that I had probably messed something up with the wiring, and decided that I would have someone who was good with electronics fix it for me.

Well, I found someone to look at it, and the result turned out to not be what I expected. Instead of there being something wrong with the wiring, the computer had actually gone out in the stereo itself. So in other words, I now have this expensive stereo system that I had used for less than a year, and it was already broken due to a rare defect.

So did I decide to buy a new stereo? Hell no. That would be like polishing a turd. Why on earth would someone spend any more money on a vehicle like the Jeep? Buying a new stereo for the Jeep would be like dressing Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo up in pimp clothes.

I decided to utilize my old Discman. You thought that Discmans were soooo 90’s and that noone used them anymore didn’t ya? Well, you were wrong. I use my Discman every day as a result of my car stereo being broken. My Discman is the only thing of value to me that I keep in my Jeep. If someone read this blog and discovered that I don’t usually lock the doors to the Jeep, and then snuck in and stole my Discman….I seriously would be pissed off. Every time I leave my vehicle, I think to myself, “gee I hope no one steals my Discman.”

 There is a funny event that took place a couple weeks ago as a result of using my Discman. Remember about a week and a half ago when the weather was real nice? Well I decided to take advantage of the weather and was cruising to various stores in Burlington, with my windows down (well, half-way down.)

For any of you who don’t know by now, I jam out in my car. I sing at the top of my lungs and totally get into the songs while I am driving. It just so happened that this particular day, I was listening to one of those heavy metal bands that scream a lot. The band was called Shadows Fall. The song was called, “What Drives the Weak.” Normally I don’t listen to that type of music, but I must have been pumped up that day.

While waiting at a stop light, the main part of the song comes on. On this part of the song, the lead singer screams, “COME ON!!!! ANAESTHETISE THE PANIC!!!! IT IS WHAT DRIVES THE WEAK!!!” Of course I was getting into it and was screaming along to the song and pumping my fists while waiting at a stoplight. Then I looked to my left, and there was an elderly couple waiting right next to me. A man who looked to be about 75 was driving, and a woman who looked to be about the same age was in the passenger seat. They had their windows down too, so they could hear everything that was going on in my vehicle. The woman had a look of utter terror mixed with confusion written all over her face. I can’t say I blame her. I mean, your parked next to this Jeep, which is being operated by a 26 year old man who is screaming at the top of his lungs and pumping his fists.

The funny thing is the fact that I was using my Discman, so they couldn’t hear me playing any music, and my earphones were small, so they probably couldn’t see me wearing them. This lady probably thought I was this maniac, screaming at the top of my lungs at nothing. She probably thought I had some sort of issues I needed to work out, in which, the only issue in my life right now is that I AM IN DESPERATE NEED OF A NEW RIDE!!!!!

That fartwad, Rick "The Mullet Man" Suave sports his Discman and headphones with pride when he's ridin' ghetto.

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