Toad Away


Frog’s Eye View

Today, we finally relinquished Anne’s little red Geo Prizm. A few weeks ago, I had submitted the car’s paperwork to NPR’s agent. We donated the car to them and today they came to collect it. Terry, I think that I’ll call him Terry, was on time when he knocked on the front door. By way of introduction and also as preamble for all the fun that was soon to ensue, he told me that this was his first day on the job and as I guessed at that early hour, making me his very first customer. That explained his confusion over the paperwork. He asked if it ran. I told him it needed a jump. He made a face and handed me my receipt.

I retired to the house. His rig was a little underwhelming, comprising an old F-150 pickup, about the same shade of faded red as the Prizm, pulling a rather rickety looking trailer. Terry is a big guy, not so much tall as wide and he was able to roll the car uphill, into position behind his truck and trailer. which were now blocking the street. Our one-block street is not a major thoroughfare, but at that hour, when all my neighbors all leave for work, there is a flurry of traffic. In hindsight, a midday pickup would have been easier, because then the street is empty, but I say a performance without an audience is just a rehearsal. 

So, he’s got the truck, trailer, its two ramps and the car all in a line now. He then drives everything forward, I guess to straighten it all out, but one of the ramps falls off the trailer. The car’s front wheel rolls over the ramp, but it gets lodged between the front and back wheels and is now getting dragged along. He stops, gets out of the truck and sizes up the situation. At this point one of the lawyers from across the street starts to back out of her driveway, but with everything going on in the street, there is no where for her to go. Terry proceeds to rock the car by hand, freeing his trapped ram, which looks a little worse for wear. He unhooks the car and rolls it back to its original starting point. He throws the ramps onto the trailer and pulls out-of-the-way, allowing the lawyer and half-a dozen other cars (I counted them.) to proceed.

After that dustup settles, Terry reassembles his little flotilla in the middle of the road. Another neighbors comes out to offer some advice and I’ll have to check with him later about what he said, because afterwards, instead of trying to winch the car onto the trailer, he rolls it around so that now the car is facing downhill. I should mention here that the Prizm has a standard transmission. He squeezes into the driver seat and with the door wide open, gets the car rolling with one leg hanging out, Fred Flintstone style. He’s trying to push start the car. It doesn’t catch on the first lurch, but on the second one, I can see the blue exhaust flowing from of the car’s tailpipe. Terry drives the car onto the trailer, straps it down and just before he drives away, vainly tries to straighten the bent ramp. Show’s over.

The Prizm was a good car, a ’95, we bought it 23 years ago this month. It was up for license renewal next month, but we had already given it a DNR order. It was time to let it go. Built in the NUMMI Fremont plant, it was a bit of a half-breed, half GM and half Toyota. All of the GM accessories had long since died, but the Toyota engine and drivetrain were still going strong. I’m glad that it did not go quietly, but left in part under its own power. Goodnight, sweet prince! 

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