the last passenger
Thursday was a full day, full of adventure. Rudy Carrasco was in town for an one-day trip, and he was antsy after a half-day of conferencing, dropped me a line, and we met up and hung out. I first found him huddled up in the corner, savoring an Internet connection at a Starbucks hotspot. We drove from Howard University up to Chez Lemen, hung out there for a few hours, got a ganga food for lunch.
Then drove Rudy back downtown near the White House for some evening reception he had lined up; my 1998 Dodge Caravan was struggling with shifting gears on the way back. I suspected it was Rudy using his car adapter to recharge his cell phone, sucking the juice out of my engine. After I dropped him off, the problem didn’t go away. I’d get up to about 25 mph, then the engine would rev louder and louder, but it wasn’t finding the next gear, nor the gear it was in. I don’t know much about cars, but the transmission was slipping.
I got to Silver Springs by about 4:40pm, amidst mounting traffic, and my engine stalls halfway up the hill from the DC line to Silver Spring. Cars are beeping behind me, rightly irate. I turn off my engine, pop the hood. A police car shows up a minute later, asks me to call someone to get me towed or something. I try one more time, and was able to drive a little further, off to a side parking lot. I wave the police car off. Wondering what to do, I scan the road side of stores. Lo and behold, there’s an Aamco transmission shop just a half block away! God really provided in my time of need, or this was sheer luck, depending on your spiritual perspective.
I eventually get home, I’ll spare you the details. Next day the diagnosis was that the transmission needed rebuilding or replacing. I look up the blue book value. By the book, in insurance speak, my car was totaled. It’d cost more to get the car back up and running, than to get it fixed. We decided to dispose it and sell. So, the last passenger in my Dodge Caravan was not a member of my family. It was Rudy Carrasco.
In June 1999, when I had just started blogging, was the other time a car died on me, en route to a national denominational conference. That was a Mitsubishi. The common theme: both of these cars that died on me were white in color.