Thursday, September 29, 2005

Dirty Driving.

Summary of a typical day recently:

Wake up. Shower. Get dressed. Get coffee. Go to work at day job doing purchasing paperwork and driving to suppliers picking up urgent orders. Finish day job. Get changed. Go to work at night job driving to customers delivering orders. Finish night job. Go back to temporary accommodations. Maintenance tasks*. [* Eat food. Do laundry. Buy food and essential supplies. Et al. ] Shower. Sleep. Repeat. On Sundays, I get to sleep in. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I get evenings free for maintenance tasks.

"You are going to get really tired of picking up and dropping off stuff.."
- comment from one of my potential housemates
In between already overscheduled activities, squeeze in house hunting, house viewing and house lease application. We found a place less than a kilometre from the beach. Split level townhouse [ bedrooms upstairs, living areas downstairs = more privacy ] with large living and kitchen areas. Garage huge and high enough to fit The Patrol, with space leftover to squeeze in a subcompact Ford. Nearby bus stop to train station, where trains run regularly into the city. Huge shopping centre minutes away by bus or car (or a bit of a walk).

My potential housemates are thrilled with the prospect of the place. Then again.. you have one dude who would be delighted with having enough private space to work on equipping a huge diesel truck with complex electronic communications and one dudette who regularly wakes up to go run 6 kilometres at 4.30am in the dark and cold (and rain!). The same folks - respectively - who considers two car batteries as insufficient redundancy, and who is considering starting at 4am to run 10 kilometres by the beach in the dark and cold.

And before D. starts getting into me about getting some regular exercise (as opposed to procrastinating about it) and about actually cleaning the car (as opposed to procrastinating about it), I would like to firmly state that I absolutely refuse to even consider getting out of a warm bed before sunrise. Let alone to drive - let alone run - anything more than the distance from the front door to the mailbox. And if and only if the weather is nice and warm and the morning breeze is not too chillingly cold. I like my creature comforts way too much.

And as for cleaning the car, the car has gone from being very dirty to being nauseatingly filthy as of the events of last night.


So there I was in a still-tolerably-dirty car having a snack of fries and Coke. Had a very large Coke in very flimsy paper cup (from a fast food drive-through) in my left hand. Last I checked eating while driving was not against the law unless the authorities determine that you are doing so in an unsafe manner.

[ As a sidenote: I spend a lot of time in the car. I have already put over 10,000km on it since I got it about 2 months ago. That is a lot of "picking up and dropping off" stuff indeed. That and a lot of midnight drives to and from and by the beach. ]

And so I approach a familiar sharp right curve. The same sharp curve in the road with the 30kmph warning sign which was knocked down by some previous unknown driver not paying attention to the road. The seemingly suicidal car in front of me zooms through the curve at full speed of 60kmph. I follow into the curve, dropping my speed to about 40kmph and checking that the right lane was clear (danger of sideswipes on the tight curve).

Then the car in front of me hits the brakes. Hard. Hard enough to leave tyre skid marks on the road. There was a broken down vehicle right where the curve straightens out (hidden by trees).

In that split second, the brain recognises two options. Either hit the brakes hard and hope that I do not crash in to the skidding car in front of me and simultaneously hope that the car behind me does not squish me like a bug. The only other option was to increase the turning rate to the right (was already in a sharp right curve) and avoid the obstacle by moving into the clear right lane.

Did I mention that 1992 low-end Ford tincan subcompact cars do not come with ABS systems installed as a standard?
So rather than the risk of rear-ending the stopped car in front of me or getting hit by the car behind me, I deliberately swerved hard right to avoid the stopped car.

Did I also mention that 1992 low-end Ford tincan subcompact cars also do not come with power steering installed as a standard?
So I desperately yank the steering wheel to the right with both hands and hang on for dear life as the centrifugal forces pull at the car towards a possible sideswipe. I hear the suspension and chassis creak alarmingly. The seatbelt restraint works like a charm though, and holds me in place.

And I make the turn safely as I hear the tyres of the car behind me screeching to a halt (with no crashing sound, thankfully). The hard jolt from hitting the kerb of the central road divider when pulling out of the turn was a welcome respite - considering the potential alternatives.

Oh.. remember that upsized Coke in a flimsy paper cup in my left hand?
So now I have a goo mixture of Coke and sand and dirt and goodness-knows what else all over the car floorboards. Coke all over the front seats, dashboard, steering. And as of this morning, I had to put a towel over the squishy Coke-soaked driver seat to get to work.

Even worse, I detected a slight tinge of ammonia (urine?) in the car this morning. Either the Coke bath must have set off some chemical reaction (eating into plastics?) generating ammonia, or a previous owner had a pet or child that pissed in the car and all that water is re-activating the dried urine / sweat crystals.

I now have a car with yucky sticky controls, squishy wet front seats and unidentifiable mucky goo on the floor. And it stinks like stale sweat and like somebody took a piss in it.


Like I said, the car is now disgustingly filthy. I have a very high tolerance for filth but even this crosses the line. I would actually eat stuff that falls on a (relatively) clean floor, which freaks out some people. And dust / dirt / grease do not bother me much as long as I can wash it off. But now even I have to suppress the urge to go "eeewww" and "yucks" when I drive.

And I have neither the cleaning tools or supplies to clean the car. More importantly I have neither the patience or inclination to clean the car either.

I wonder how much it would cost to get the car professionally detailed. I suspect it may be well worth every cent.


Blogger C said...

Pouring this morning so i didn't go (ate pizza instead). But i went after dark though.

10kms in 1h 06 min, with some long, steep hills thrown in. I should start doing this everyday.

My butt hurts from all those hills, but i feel like a flippin' h-e-r-o.

September 29, 2005 8:14 PM  
Blogger elin said...

Its not so difficult once you get started - dont even need professional equipment. A warm bucket with suds (dishwashing liquid) and a clean rag would do. The thought of STICKY Coke on the seat and steering wheel makes me shudder - and I am not a fan of the car cleaning either. Be careful on the roads - sounds like it was a close shave.

September 29, 2005 9:03 PM  
Blogger Tym said...

I'm chicken. I would pay someone to clean it too ;)

PS: Drive safe! And eat less fast food!!

September 29, 2005 10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad that you are alright. Your writing on the ammonia part really trigger off a good laughter! Thanks mate!

September 29, 2005 11:13 PM  
Blogger Calamity Man said...

at the end of the day, it doesnt matter what happened to the car coz you're a-okay.

dude, im getting my butt down there in a couple of months. would like to meet you up for a chat or 2 or 3.

1st off, does the house have internet access?

September 30, 2005 12:44 AM  
Anonymous mel said...

i was waiting to collect a take-awy pizza the other day when an asian guy parked his sports car outside the shop. he came in with nice shirt, cuff links, tie and all (and yeah pants too). i was surprised when he walked through the counter, gave a gruffy greeting to the pizza shop owner, changed into jeans, sneakers and an apron and then proceeded to chop capsicums.

somehow i thought of you and your life in perth.

September 30, 2005 5:16 AM  
Blogger Elia Diodati said...

Go you! Good thing you're still alive...

If the pee smell is disturbing you, maybe you should wash it with baking soda solution. It's somewhat alkaline and should neutralize pee and Coke pretty well. And it's cheap!

October 02, 2005 7:27 AM  
Blogger KnightofPentacles said...

Done! The car is now, although not exactly immaculately clean, but at least in a condition that will not make me shudder as I get in.

Me too! Problem is getting somebody to come out to clean the very heavily-used car at a convenient time without having to pay a fortune for the luxury. And I like junk food! Just have to remember not to drink Coke out of a paper cup while driving. Or to have to jury-rig a cup holder or something.

I had visions of the Coca Cola bubbling and dissolving away the plastic dash and interior fittings, like in that Alien movie where the acid eats through multiple decks of the spaceship.

Drop me a mail when/as you get here. Your sis has my mobile number. Broadband internet access is a modern necessity, like an indoor toilet (neither of which I have in my current accommodations).

Spot on! Just change the gruffy greeting to a cheery one. And minus the sports car. And replace the capsicums with tomatoes. I spend a disproportionately large amount of time hand-cutting tomatoes. For some reason, machine-cut tomatoes just do not go well on traditional pizza. Mushrooms and capsicums come out pretty okay through a machine blade though.

Was not that close a shave. Not at 40kmph and rapidly slowing. The car would been wrecked, but I'd probably have survived with a couple of seat-belt bruises if there was an impact.

Yup. I thought of the homebrew solutions of vinegar and baking soda immediately for the hard surfaces. But for cushions (fabric) seats, I went with the lazy "available in a convenient spray bottle" Febreze.

October 02, 2005 3:36 PM  

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