A problem popped up the moment I drove my new car off the lot. But it’s only temporary. Come August it will vanish into thin air. How can I be so certain? Because that’s when my 90-day free trial subscription to satellite radio will expire.
Having three free months of free satellite radio is a heavy load to bear. So many stations, so little time. Did I mention it’s free?
Free Day One
On the Lot
I listen politely as my sales person goes over the small details she thinks are important – the location of the gas tank lock release, how to fold down the back seats, or since this is my first key-less entry car, which buttons to push on the little magic twanger. But within this polite shell, an impatient toe-tapping control freak grips the steering wheel biding my time until I can drive off the lot and set my stations.
On the Way to Work
All six FM stations set and I haven’t even reached the entrance ramp to the parkway. An all-time record. Thank goodness for red lights. But this is only a dry run. I have Sirius research to do.
I unfold the map-like Sirius XM brochure and lay it out on my desk. 170 channels. Be still, my heart. 90 days? Uh-oh. Can I get my money’s worth? (so to speak)? Let’s see
Live Sports? every MLB game, Is Detroit included? I would like to hear Tigers’ games. But then, no, I’m not going to be in the car for every game and certainly not for the whole two hour stretch. It’s not worthy of a pre-set. I can listen as needed. And if I don’t need baseball, I certainly don’t need every NHL, NFL,NBA or college sports game.
Exclusive Entertainment ? Hmm what’s this?
- Howard Stern? He gave me enough boiling-over blood pressure when he was on AM. No thanks
- Oprah? I’m probably the only person who never even saw one Oprah!, so if I never saw her, why should I listen. No thanks
- Martha Stewart? Hmm, I like Martha. She knows the names of the most esoteric cooking utensils you never knew existed, let alone thought you needed. If Martha’s going to show me how to use little thingy to get the meat out of the walnut after I crack it open, I should be seeing, not listening. No thanks
With Live Sports and Exclusive Entertainment off my list I’m breathing a bit easier. Let’s see.
World-class News plus Local Traffic and Weather.
- Nope, I like my news served on paper.
- I like seeing those weather maps and graphics even if the meteorologist is standing in front of them.
- And as for traffic. By the time a traffic snafu makes its way onto the radio I’m either already in the middle of it, or it’s all cleared up.
Laugh-0ut- Loud Comedy. No, my singing out loud is enough to make people laugh
Commercial Free Music– Now that’s what I’m talking about. I fold back the rejected panels and flatten out the remaining sections on my desk. I don’t like classical or country; Pass on dance/electronic. Christian? Foreign language? No and No. That leaves Rock, Pop, and Jazz. I fold back, and out of sight, the pop and jazz sections. I don’t need any distractions
The Grateful Dead Channel? Pearl Jam Radio? E street Radio? Channel Margaritaville? I love Bruce and Jimmy, and enjoy the Dead and the Jams but that’s like listening to albums. I like the element of surprise while I drive.
Oops my lunch hour is almost over. I grab the guide and run outside to the parking lot. Let’s see I guess I have to push this selector marked XM. Okay, now for the stations.
Classic Vinyl, 60’s and 70’s Rock? Okay – button 1
Boneyard, Classic Hard Rock? Umm hmm! – button 2
Hair Nation, 80’s Hair Bands? Alllll Riiiiight!!!!! – button 3
Liquid Metal , Heavy Metal XL. What’s XL? I’ll try it – button 4
Soul Town, Classic Soul/Motown – that’s a good change of pace – button 5
The Joint, Reggae – Ya Mon! – button 6
I can hardly wait for the ride home!
Free Day Five (Saturday – errand day)
I’m not sure if I’m making the most out of this free trial. I think it’s time to try new stations. As long as I’m here in Kohl’s parking lot, let me get out that brochure
60’s on 6.
Oh, isn’t that cute, the peace symbol in the middle of the 0. 60’s pop hits with Cousin Brucie. Didn’t he die? Well, let’s give it a try.
‘70’s on 7.
You know, the 60’s were fun , but the 70’s, those were my glory days.
Wow look 80’s on 8.
My years in San Jose.
90’s on 9.
I like the soul and reggae. I’ll keep them.Next stop Walmart.
Free Days Six – Thirteen
I love my commute. Choose a decade and almost every song is a trip back in time.
I Got you, Babe
I’m in my freshman dorm. My room-mate, Regina and I are figuring out when it’s Sonny singing and when it’s Cher
Just the Way You are
The first dance at my wedding and the band leader is channeling Billy Joel
Start Me Up
Oh my God, Mick Jagger, right there on the field below us. We left the house at six to get up here to Candlestick Park. But snagging these seats make it all worthwhile.
Tears in Heaven
The dreaded call at 2:20 AM. My brother has surrendered to his cancer. As I fly home to NY, I look down through the billowing mounds of white blanketing the Rockies. Jim feels close by. Can heaven really be up in the clouds? Synchronicity strikes via my Walkman and I hear Eric Clapton in my ear. He’s wondering too.
Free Day 15.
“La-dee da dee da ..When you call my name, it’s like a little prayer, ” Oops here’s my exit.
This is the only Madonna song I like. Reminds me of my MTV midlife crisis. What a video…… and then there was the Super Bowl half time show this year ……when that big guy in the flowing cape rose up through the stage! At first I thought it was that Vogue editor guy – Andre something something. But then I realized it was the guy from The Voice – Cee Jay? No, Cee Lo something………
………..Look at that police car! He’s right on my tail………… Now he has his lights going and the siren whoop whooping. Me?
“Yes officer? ”
“You know you went through that Stop sign back at the corner, Ma’am. Do you have a reason for that?”
I do have reason, a Sirius one but I don’t think divulging it would further my case.
I said Adios to my beloved Truckito, today. For ten years I never had to worry about getting anything home – lawn mowers, power washers, furniture, peat moss, he could handle it. He faced wintry weather with sure-footed confidence. No matter how much snow awaited on the driveway from hell, his sturdy four wheels cut through it like a knife through butter. But he’d developed very expensive ills and no matter how much my heart tried to finagle my head, I just couldn’t see spending $4,000 on repairs.
I find comfort in imagining his soul going on to that great driveway in the sky where he’ll be initiated into the Fraternal Order of Beloved Cars Virginia Used to Drive. And since it is my fantasy, I’ll go with him to make the introductions.
Truckito, 2002 Nissan Frontier
Years of Service” – December 30, 2002 – May 1, 2012
FOOBCVUTD is very exclusive. It has but three members. Ziegfried is the grand poobah. After graduation, my dad gave me the $330 left over from the money he’d saved for my college education. I promptly handed it over to Avoxe Volkswagen of the Bronx as a down-payment.
Ziegfried, 1969 Volkswagen Bug
Years of service: September 1968 – May 1977.
Zig: “Hello Truckito, I taught V all she knows about driving”
That’s not true. I’d been driving my dad’s cars since I was seventeen.
Zig: “Automatic, not stick.”
I took a lesson before I picked you up.
Z: “One lesson and it didn’t include driving on hills. Truckito, the only way home was up E.236th Street. Ever been to San Francisco? Seen those hills? That’s what E.236 Street is like.
“When we got to the first light, just my luck, it turned red, and when it turned green, she was so slow getting her foot to my gas pedal I had to roll back. Then she stomped on my brake and when she tried to go forward again, I had to stall. Of course I rolled back some more. Well, to make a long ugly story short but not pretty, she soon had a whole line of cars rolling back behind me. “
That was one day. We went on to have good times; summers at the Jersey Shore, Skiing in Vermont. We even mastered driving in the snow.
Zig: “Mastered!? Mastered?! Define mastered. How many times did you crash me in Vermont?”
I had two accidents.
Zig:” And which one caused me to develop tremors in my left wheel? Tremors you ignored until my wheel fell off?”
That was the first one. The second one wasn’t in Vermont, it was in upstate NY. And it only did a bit of cosmetic damage.
Zig: “Speaking of cosmetics, all my friends had flower decals and peace signs, you had to cover me with snowflakes.”
Ah, the days of flower power. Everyone had flowers. Snowflakes were different. And you did have a peace symbol – in the back window.
Zig: Now that I look back, those days were fun. But after you moved into your own apartment , all your money went for rent. I only went to work and to the city on Friday nights. Bo-r-r-ring
That speeding caper you pulled on the Throg’s Neck Bridge, was that to relieve your boredom?
Zig: “What speeding caper?”
I was coming back from Queens and the next thing I knew you were going 80 miles an hour. Luckily it was a Sunday night with light traffic. I almost had to stand up on the brake to stop at the toll booth. And then you shot out of there like a cannonball. I pulled off at the first exit and called AAA . But of course when they got there, you purred like a kitten.
Truckito, I never quite trusted Ziggy after that. And when he refused to start anytime I parked him on a hill, I took him to my mechanic. Pat found gas in his oil, oil in his gas, and no compression. He shut Zig down to two cylinders and wouldn’t take any money for his time, as long as I promised never bring him back.
And now I’d like you to meet
Screaming Yellow Zonker, 1977 Datsun B210 Hatchback
Years of Service, May 1977 – October, 1989
Zonk: “ Hi Truckito, I didn’t have any problems with her driving skills but she tended to abandon me from time to time.”
I never abandoned you.
Zonk: “You left me out to be stolen on Bronx River Rd
I’d been parking Ziggy out there and never had a problem.
Zonk: “Ziggy wasn’t my sunny shade of yellow.”
I still get mad when I think of that night, Truckito. The police were there, hiding in the bushes, waiting for thieves to come along and this was their lucky night. They watched the two guys pry the passenger side lock out of the door, leaving a jagged hole in three-week old Zonker. Then they waited until they’d popped the ignition out of the steering column. They didn’t swoop in until the car moved because if they’d stopped them after punching the hole they’d only have a breaking and entering case but when they moved the car, they had a genuine auto theft collar. One of the cops had to teach me to hotwire the car so I could get it to a body shop.
Zonk: “I guess you wanted to make it up to me because after that you got me my very own parking space behind the building
Yeah, that added $15 a month to my rent.
“But then the following winter you abandoned me ….in Queens…in a blizzard.”
Why do I feel like I’m on trial here? Okay, no contest. I plead youth and romanticism.
Zonk, “No, plead stupidity. Truckito, she let some guy she was dating, talk her into driving to his place in Queens, this on a day every weather man in the Tri-State area was ecstatic about the coming blizzard of the decade.”
I admitted it was a dumb move. The whole city was paralyzed. I waited a day but Queens being Queens, I figured it would days before the street was plowed. I had work and the cats were home in Yonkers so I took a gazillion subways home , and the following weekend I took a gazillion subways back to get you.
Zonk: “Then you abandoned me again, the very next week.
Was it my fault the super plowed the parking lot, and piled all the snow in your space while you were in Queens
Well maybe, but where else was I to park you when I couldn’t find a spot on the street? It was a Friday night and very late. The supermarket lot was my only choice.
Zonker, “Didn’t you see the sign “Cars left overnight will be towed” ?
I thought it was just a warning. But don’t forget, I paid a lot to get you back – The ticket, the towing fee, the storage charge, the cab fare to the impound lot!
Zonker: “Then I got towed again. But that was OK that time was fun.”
Truckito, When I got married and moved to California, my husband’s company paid to have Zonker shipped on a transport truck.
Zonk: “When I got there, I was her guinea pig.”
I’d have thought you’d have been grateful to get tender loving care.
You see, Truckito, my husband was talented at restoring cars and rebuilding engines. So I learned to change oil, lube, flush radiators, rotate tires. But I couldn’t fix everything.
Zonk: “No, she abandoned me when I had a nervous breakdown.”
Why do you keep saying I abandoned you. We were together for 12 years and five months. And you started it, revving your engine to frightening proportions when I stopped at lights.
Zonk. “I only did it a few times.”
But not for the mechanic or my husband.
Then there was your windshield wiper stunt. I had to drive all the way home from work, across San Jose in a downpour, trying to make out the road through cascading sheets of rain because your windshield wipers wouldn’t work
Zonk – But you did good, we got home safe
I did good! Was that why you started flashing your lights when we finally reached our street. Not the flashers, the head lights! And when I pulled into the driveway and you started honking your horn on and off, on and off. Were you clapping for me?
Zonk, “I never did it again.”
No, Truckito he didn’t but I couldn’t trust him anymore.”
Next we have
My Red Car, 1990 Nissan 240SX
Years of service October 1989 – August 2004,
This car was too beautiful and sophisticated to have a nick name. I had just gotten divorced and his sun-roof, and sleek lines were just what a Bay Area single needed. We had five fantastic care-free years until family matters called me home. I drove my red car home to look for an apartment for me and Fremont. (Regular readers of this blog have already met My Red Car in a previous post.
Red car: ”Unlike my lodge brothers I have nothing ill to say of Virginia, or her driving. ”
See, Truckito , I told you My Red Car had class.
My Red Car: “Our life together did have a rough start, though. Ha-ha. No pun intended.”
Oh my! I’d forgotten that. I picked you up from the dealer on a Saturday, October 1, and on Tuesday, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck. All I could think as the house rattled and creaked was oh no, my three-day old car is outside. But luckily, no damage.
My Red Car: “I wasn’t quite so lucky at the end of my life, though.”
Grr! Nearly fifteen years of trouble-free loyalty and you got rear-ended – in a parking lot- by an old lady. And although I could have lived with your caved- in bumper and slightly dented trunk, the insurance adjuster couldn’t see past your age and the 176,000 miles on your odometer. His verdict? Totaled. I was going to protest it but he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, $4,000. I was greedy, I’m sorry.
Zonk: “That’s even worse than abandonment! She sold you down the river!”
Zig: “And you hadn’t done anything.”
My Red Car:“Yes, it was sad. But this isn’t about the three of us, Z & Z it’s about welcoming my old friend, Truckito. “
You and Truckito were driveway mates! That totally slipped my mind.
Ziggy: “They were?”
Zonker. “Red, how come you never told us?”
My Red Car: “I was a rear wheel drive sports car, not the best car for NY snowstorms And although I survived two blizzards, there came that evening rush- hour I negotiated that long sloping curve on the Taconic Parkway at a forty-five degree angle .
In perfect control, Ziggy! ……Go on, My Red Car, sorry for interrupting.
My Red Car: ” It was time for me to semi-retire. Truckito was my relief and for the next two add a half years, we shared driving and hung out at the top of the driveway from hell.”
It’s time for me to go, Truckito. I feel a bit better knowing you have a friend.
Ziggy: “She probably has a date with a new car!”
Ziggy! You too, Zonker, be nice to Truckito. Unlike some members of FOOBCVUTD he never gave me an ounce of trouble.”