In which the author talks of high Caliber repair and the transmission of doom. And, some musical theater.
By Mike Smith
My gosh, I got some heart-felt advice from readers about my car and I really appreciate it.
Alas, it was the transmission. I got a brand new or at least re-manufactured transmission with an additional 100,000-mile Chrysler-backed warranty. It is really a quiet ride. My return to quietude has been realized and I have a perfectly good pair of walking shoes too. I’m going to keep them. In fact I wore them to take a drive in our new, much quieter car.
We went to a restaurant in North Bend that we found last year on my birthday. I’m not going to mention the restaurant here because it is not in Des Moines… but I needed a longer drive to test out the car, and I’ve been told to keep my pro bono advertising plugs to a minimum. What could be more minimalist than zero plugs?
My transmission guy–yes, he is mine now. I’ve paid good money for this guy. He told me that these transmissions have been a miserable failure since their inception. Minor improvements have been made but they do fail on occasion often.
This is a transmission doomed to failure. It is undersized and under designed. Despite its heritage of brilliant design ideas from the mind of Leonardo de Vinci, it simply has not panned out as suitable running gear for even the smallest of cars. I can’t fault Dr. de Vinci, as he’d never seen a car and certainly did not conceive the Chrysler Corporation… even though it is owned mostly by the Italian company Fiat.
But, I still like our Caliber and we have been thrilled to drive it around with the radio set at a moderate level. So thank you very much for your concern and advice.
And now for something completely different. I had a conversation with a co-worker this week that was interesting. He is a car nut. Like me. We both drive for Metro and one of our mutual assignments is to pick up students from Mercer Island High School and drive around the island dropping them off.
We were joking about how well-behaved they are. Joking in that we were shocked because we’ve both picked up kids from other high schools with less positive results. Another co-worker was there who used to drive school buses for the Mercer Island School District. She also lives on Mercer Island, and told us something that I found interesting.
Apparently, some of the bus drivers in Mercer Island have a flair for the dramatic. They are also musicians. Because they had all dealt with unruly kids on buses before, they decided to do something about it. So, they wrote a musical. The topic was bus etiquette. I can’t imagine what it must be like as the topic doesn’t seem to lend itself to creative inspiration. But my guess is that it must be clever and effective. From a very young age, school kids in Mercer Island attend a musical performed by their bus drivers on the proper way to ride the bus. And, by the time they are in high school, they are well versed. Not to mention well behaved.
I actually had a kid ask me before we left the school if he could listen to his radio on the bus. This is a 16-17 year-old kid who had an old transistor radio. He politely asked if he could listen to his music which was currently set at a station playing a song by The Doobie Brothers. I thought, “This kid has good taste in music.” I said of course he could, and added (always in pursuit of the betterment of young people), “Would you like me to play it over the PA?”
On my Metro bus, picking up random folks in downtown Seattle, we hear music from cell phones, and radios large and small. Even occasionally we hear, clearly, what is playing on a set of headphones. They are attached to someone’s head, and being worn in the proper fashion. I’m guessing the wearers have long since lost the ability to hear in the normal range of decibels. And downtown, no one asks if they can play their music. The other riders on the bus do not seem to like what they hear. And we are not listening to The Doobie Brothers. It’s a little more contemporary, and graphic.
I’m thinking of trying to commission a traveling drama troupe to ride on my bus to instruct and influence my riders. It might not work. But it would be nice to be able to make a difference in the world. At least I know where to get the training curriculum.