QOTD: What's Your Worst Childhood Automotive Memory?
In my QOTD post two weeks ago, I asked you to share the story of the most unreliable vehicle you’d ever owned. Most of you were quick to point out that I should’ve turned that into several different Questions of the Day, so you could specify different types of unreliable vehicles. The sheer number of comments (over 240 of them) showed me that the B&B love to share a bad story.
I see no reason not to return to form this week, and ask you about your worst childhood automotive memory. Mine involved a GMC Safari — in a situation which was nowhere near as decadent as above.
Tossing this question idea to the TTAC staff on the Slack channel last week triggered immediate memories: Seats in the way-back, hot vinyl on legs, or perhaps an experience with a third-degree burn from a solid metal seat belt buckle. Mostly, I realized through this quick survey that my worst story wasn’t that bad. Anyway, it sticks in my mind so you’re gonna hear about it.
The year was around 1994, and we’d driven in my grandma’s light blue circa ’88 GMC Safari over to the west side of Cincinnati to do some shopping at the Service Merchandise (off of Glenway Avenue, presently vacant). It was one of my favorite stores to visit, for two very distinct reasons: They had electric typewriters I could play with while my family was shopping, and there was entertainment while we waited to check out, via the guys pushing boxes down the conveyor belt. Service Merchandise is the only store I’ve been to in my entire life that combined these two features. My joy was stopped short when we left to go have dinner.
Returning to the Safari with whatever VCRs or other ’90s goods my family purchased, grandma realized she did not have her keys to unlock the van. Peering through the untinted windows, we found it was because the keys were in the ignition. To my recollection, all this happened in the fall, and just about the time we realized we were locked out it got dark and started raining. An adult went back into the store and used a landline telephone to call the police, who put the request into their queue. Sometime later (it seemed ages) a young policeman arrived to our wet and cold location at the back of the parking lot to try and unlock the door. I remember standing there and being freezing for what seemed like hours as the cop used his slim jim on the van.
The policeman was worried that with his lack of experience he might scratch the van’s window in the attempt to get the door open. He suggested that if spare keys existed, it might be a better idea to get them. Someone went back into the store to use the phone again, to call my grandpa and give him the bad news about the rest of his evening. It would take him a half hour to drive over with the keys and let all his soaking wet relatives into the car.
I have questions about this event — questions my family is unable to clarify so many years later. Why didn’t we wait in the store, out of the rain? Why didn’t the cop call for assistance in popping the door open? What ever happened to Service Merchandise?
I suspect I’ll never know the answer to any of these , but perhaps you can console me with your worst automotive-related memory (and keep it PG, please).
[Images: General Motors]
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