• Brian D. Hinson

The Death of the Pontiac

As I turned the corner, the gas pedal revved the engine but the car wasn’t responding with motion. I figured I slipped out of gear. Nope, the car was still in drive.

It was 1:30 in the morning and I was ferrying a passenger from Rio Rancho to her east side apartment. We were turning south on Eubank from Paseo, and suddenly moving forward was a problem. “We’ve got an issue here.”

The passenger in the back was sympathetic, not angry. “Oh no.”

I inched over to the shoulder, turned off the car and restarted. This sometimes works for phones and laptops, so why not? It revved, but would only push the car forward with the tiniest of force. I tested reverse: We could maneuver backwards perfectly fine.

So, the transmission.

“I think I can still get you there. It looks all downhill from here.”

She was cool with the plan.

I managed to get down the slope and passed through a green light. I made the turn and coasted uphill into her complex parking lot. I reversed into a spot out of people’s way. It was close enough for her. She wished me luck and good night.

Now I had to call Progressive for roadside assistance. The person who picked up wasn’t quite fluent in English. As I was giving him my location, he twice had to stop me and plead, “Slowly, slowly…” This was maddening, but I did my best to not snap at him, despite my stressful, stranded situation. I couldn’t blame him—he needs a job like the rest of us. It was Progressive that didn’t make sure he was qualified or prepared for a phone job with English speakers.

Once done, the tow truck driver gave me a call about half an hour later. “Yeah, I’m the only guy out here and I’m headed to a pick-up in Rio Rancho…” Strike two, Progressive. I waited two hours for a tow. That wasn’t the only towing company in Albuquerque. Hell, at that hour, probably just me and some poor soul in Rancho needed help.

So, after we got the car to Pep Boys, I needed an Uber to get to my friend’s place I was staying with for the night. It’s always a fun chat with a fellow driver of the night. This gent from Dallas was no exception.

The prognosis on the Pontiac? A new transmission, along with a new fuel pump (I knew about that last issue but was waiting for the weekend’s cash). Tally: $3,800.

Welp, time for a new car.

The 2007 Pontiac G6 served me well. She had over 167K and had run 4,700 Uber rides. And…only had two payments left.

So, I now am the owner of a black 2014 Volkswagen Jetta, 35K miles. Why the Jetta? High reliability ratings and 42 mpg highway. I’ll Uber the shit out of this car.

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