Another Sunday Cruise

It’s August 12, 2023, a nice and warm day.

The last couple of cruises I’ve taken the cab has been well worth the work. The car never lives up to its once mechanical prowess in its heyday, but the ability to fix the car with a few turns of a wrench is a quirk in its own right.

The night before

Quick repairs

I had to do a few repairs a few days before; my oil pressure light was blinking, and that’s never a good sign, so I had to check it out and inspect the sensor and wiring. Fortunately, a new sensor and wire crimped onto the sender solved the issue. Off we go.

As a test run, I took the cab for dinner the night before a Sunday cruise. We went out to Yanagi Sushi to celebrate a friend’s birthday, but they only did valet, unbeknownst to me. Surprisingly, the valet driver drove my car and reversed it into the stall without a fuss. Parking next to a Nissan Titan V8 made the whole thing much funnier. The Titan dwarfs my already tiny car, haha. It was a good night and test run for the following day.

The day aftah

Quick repairs

Today’s the day. It was another Sunday beach cruise with the cabby, and I was pumped to go for a drive. The car was in its best shape in a long time, and I was excited to go to North Shore. I’ve always enjoyed driving up North because it’s the chance for me to stretch the cabby’s legs with the top down. After all, I don’t think it gets better than going to the beach with a droptop Volkswagen on a cool and sunny day. I’m taking every opportunity to make the most of it.

It’s 8:18 AM, and the sun shines clear with passing clouds dotting the sky. It’s a good day for driving. The plan is to head to North Shore, stop by for some gas, and get some garlic shrimp along the way. As we made our way towards the Costco Gas station in Ka Uka, the car filled up fine, and there was no drama. Ingress and start the car. Simple. Well, the car wasn’t starting.

Loose hose

My keys clink around as I continuously try to start the car. I crank the car, and it’s just that dreaded sound of the starter turning with no turnover. Try again. The keys clink and the starter kicks on, but nothing. It’s time to push. One attendant helped push the car to a nearby stall while I pulled out the tool bag. Thankfully, it only took a few moments to figure out what was the issue. The problem? A loose intake hose! The car was showing a super lean condition on the sputters that did come out and that also raised my suspicion.

After many turns with my tiny wrench to get the clamps back on, the car starts like a dream. With the ITBS roaring, away we go.

My backyard is someone else’s vacation

Loose hose

Have you ever been in a shitty convertible on a breezy, sunny day? Without traffic and a decent amount of sunscreen, I swear it is one of the most satisfying drives you can ever do. I can’t get the same feeling with driving a modern convertible. It’s missing the edge, the aspect that this car might catch on fire on me at any second. There’s some hint of danger that I can’t quiet down, but it reminds me that I’m still living.

We made our way down through Haleiwa, and as we passed through the swaths of tourists gathering around the popular food stands and trucks, I reminded myself that where I live is always someone else’s vacation. It’s a place where people might save for months just to come here, and here we are, just driving along on another Saturday. Life is pretty good. We stopped to pick up food at Kahuku Farms and Romy’s shrimp, then off to the beach. Clear skies, and the cab is still pushing on.

I’ve been conflicted now and then about whether I should keep the car because of its lack of power, small community, and constant frustration and money; I’ve sunk into the car. But sometimes, the payoff comes from days like this day.

The car is shit, but I’m proud becaues it’s mine

Let’s take the cabby, for example.

There were many days where I seriously could not wrap my head around a certain problem when diagnosing an issue on this Volkswagen. It’s my first project car and there were so many little things that I did not have the experience to understand and work my way through the problems this car had. In my naivete, I fixed problems the wrong way and made more problems than I solved them. And if you worked on a project car, you can empathize with those struggles.

If you haven’t worked on a project car, frankly, you won’t get it. You can only get the same kind of relief or victorious feeling when your car, that you’ve worked on week after week to start and be able to drive if you worked on a project car. There is no way around that experience. Maybe you can empathize and respect it, but you cannot know it.

There are so many things that we attempt to live vicariously through others that we inevitably attempt to rationalize things in our own way. And I’m guilty of thinking I understand something because someone told me about it all the time! There’s respect when you know something, but there’s humility in not knowing something and being able to balance both of those things consciously is something that I think people ought do more often. While I have worked on cars for 3 years, many people have worked on cars for 5, 10, or 20 years.

Okay, I’m off my box.

The cabby could be better. It’s honestly a death trap, and I have high anxiety every time I drive it. But each problem and worry allows me to create a solution and learn. The ongoing process of breaking and fixing the car has tired me out, and I’ve gotten sick of it some days, but at the end of the day, I don’t regret it. The car literally caught on fire on me and while that is a shitty experience and I don’t recommend that to everyone, it’s something I can live with and tell others about. It’s pretty funny now, haha. The car has given me more opportunities to talk, share, and enjoy what I have now. A rusty, crusty, ol’ box that is adorable to look at and thrilling to drive.