Interesting Travel Stories
In my years of traveling in my work,
I come across some weird things.
This is a collection of the best of them:
What a mess!!!
I am writing this on my restored computer. I say “restored” because I had to restore the operating system myself after a simple repair on my computer.
On June 13, 2009, I brought my 15 month old Sony Vaio laptop computer (purchased as an open box item, with no accompanying disks, with a 2 year warranty) to be repaired. The problem with the computer was that the screen was blanking out occasionally. I filled out the forms and left the computer with the representative.
Four weeks later I received a call that the computer was repaired and ready to be picked up. I went to the store to pick up my computer and was told that it had not arrived from the repair facility yet. After another two weeks, they finally called informing me of my computer arrival. I went back to the store and inquired how the repairs were performed on the computer. I was told that the screen and hinges were replaced as well as the HARD DRIVE. I was shocked! I was having no problems whatever with the hard drive. I asked if I could have the old hard drive back so that I could recover sensitive encrypted customer information, and was informed that the drive had already been destroyed. When I open the computer and turned it on, I got another shock: a message that said: NO OPERATION SYSTEM FOUND. I insisted that the store install the Windows Vista that the computer came with, but they refused. I insisted to higher management, but to no avail. I left the store very upset, with a useless computer and a lot of lost information.
I run a business off of this computer. I am the sole employee of my business and I depended on that sensitive information to service my customer’s vehicles. Some of this information is not replaceable. I do run backups on a regular basis, but the last backup was 3 weeks before the computer was sent in for repair. I had no idea that repairing the screen involved replacing the hard drive.
If I had been informed that the hard drive was going to be replaced, I would have postponed the replacement until I could have run a full backup and create recovery disks. I was forced to buy a full version of the operating system, install that, as well as all the subsequent updates. I then installed my other software and configured that.
Since I was not informed of the replacement, I am left with gaps in my customer information database. I had
have had to go back through all the invoices that I had written since June 21, 2009 and input them again into my
customer files. Some of the pictures of the new customers are gone forever.
Things happen to Honda Bob, Too!
Last week, I was on my way to
I carry several containers with spare bolts and things. In one of these, I found a fitting that I could replace in the hole in the valve cover. I took the valve cover off and installed a new fitting for the return oil line, then found another fitting that I could attach to the return line from the oil filter. When I looked around, I noticed one of those Freeway Service Patrol tow trucks about 30 feet across the parking lot. The driver in the tow truck was sound asleep the whole time.
The following day, I cleaned up the oil residue from the engine compartment, and replaced the length of plastic hose for my air horns.
Thinking back on the whole episode, I was lucky to make a pit stop when I did. If the fire has started on the freeway at speed, the fire would probably have been fatal for my car. And possibly me too.
The following day, I went out and bought a fire extinguisher.
Driving in Los Angeles
After living in the
lane ends on the right, in
careful driving in the far right lane in
an accident happens in
If you have a problem with your car on the freeway, if possible, don't stop in the lane. Pull off to the side of the freeway as soon as safely possible, so as to not block the smooth flow of traffic.
I think that the best way to avoid being caught in an accident is to drive your car as if you and your car were invisible. If no one can see you, you tend to drive in a way that is ultimately safer. I learned this technique while I was in the military, driving my motorcycle.
Maintain your car! Check the tire pressure (including the spare) once a month. Get it serviced when necessary. A properly maintained vehicle will be efficient, safe and economical.
Be safe, get home alive and well.
A couple months ago I got a call from a customer who works for one of those multiple storage unit places. He calls me when they plan to have an auction for spaces whose owners have defaulted on the rent. They are required to try and contact the renter for 6 months before they are allowed to auction off the contents of the storage areas. Well, I show up with about 6 other people to look at the contents of several storage area units. I say look, because we were not allowed to touch anything in the units until someone wins the auction for that unit. We were going down the hall bidding on several units when we came up on a unit filled with boxes of what looked like printer paper. It looked like pretty old paper because it was the paper with the holes on each side. I'm not even sure if they still make printers for this paper, so I didn't bid. A lady bid $50 and no one else bidded, so she got it for $50. We all moved on the the next space open for bidding when we heard her scream. We all went back expecting her to find a rat or something in a box, but when we got back to her space, we all gasped. The boxes, apparently all of them were filled to capacity with CASH. Hundreds and hundreds of $20 bills, all loose in each box. She immediately called her husband to come down with a truck for all the boxes. By the time we left, she and her husband had loaded 46 boxes of money into a U-haul truck. The customer who had worked there told me about a week later that the previous renter of the space had died in jail and was a convicted gun runner with no living relatives. The lady called him back with the final total of $1,250,000 in cash. For then on, I go to every auction!
A few weeks ago,
I took the opportunity to attend a car show at the Bob's Big Boy in
Stuck door latch
Sometimes I do jobs that even the dealerships hesitate doing. Recently I got a call from a lady who had trouble opening her drivers door. It seems that no matter what she did, the door just refused to open. Well, I had heard of this problem from the Honda Tech-line. It seems that someone had figured out how to get the door open from the inside without destroying the door. The problem was that you had to get the door panel off to access the inside of the door. To get the door panel off without breaking it, the seat needed to be removed. With the seat removed and the door panel removed, it was a fairly simple matter to drill the latch with a portable drill in a VERY specific spot. Hopefully the drill bit hits the release mechanism and the door opens. But, not this time. I drilled the hole in the exact spot and the door still refused to open. So, I drilled a bigger hole in the latch. Still no open door. Well, I then went to "PLAN B". Which was to drill out the latch everywhere and hope to hit just the right spot. I drilled and drilled and drilled. Finally after about an hour of totally destroying the latch, the door opened. After which I installed a new latch and reinstalled the seat and the door panel.
Several years ago a customer called me and said that his car was dying every time he stopped at a red light. I went out to his work in Montebello. He happened to be a principal of an elementary school. After checking out the car, I determined that the carburetor was broken and needed to be replaced. I told him so and he said to go ahead and take it off and match it with a rebuilt unit because he only lived a couple blocks away and he could walk home. I proceeded to remove the carburetor and left. The next day I got a call from him saying that the car had caught fire. He intended to go on an errand with his car at lunchtime. He jumped into his car and started cranking. Well, after a minute or two he remembered that I had taken off the carburetor the day before. He then got out of the car a smelled a very strong odor of gasoline. As soon as he closed the door the car burst into flame. The whole time the ignition switch was on, it was pumping gasoline out onto the ground. I guess it didn't take much to set it off. The car was a total loss. If you know anyone that needs a carburetor for a 1989 Honda Accord, would you let me know. I still have it. Now, when I do a job like this, I disconnect the battery.
A kind and friendly gesture
This story begins over 35 years ago while I was in the Air Force. It was Christmas time 1972 and I was going home on leave for the holidays. That winter was especially cold and rainy in southern Texas. I took off on my motorcycle about 5 o’clock on the Friday before Christmas, on my way to Eunice, Louisiana, my hometown. By midnight I was just getting into San Antonio, Texas and I was FREEZING! I pulled over to the side of the road to try and warm up my freezing hands on my exhaust pipes before proceeding. Soon a San Antonio Sheriff patrol car pulled up behind me. He got out and asked if I needed a tow truck, when I told him I was just trying to warm my hands on the exhaust pipe. He told me to come in and have a seat in the passenger seat of his cruiser and warm up for a little while. Well, I jumped at the chance to warm up. We sat there talking for about half an hour. He told me that he used to be a motor officer, so he KNEW what I was feeling like. Warmed up by his cruiser heater, I continued on my way, but never forgot his kind and friendly gesture.
Toward the end of February 2007, I took an
emergency road trip back to
Do you ever see things on the freeway that you wish you could stop and pick up?
Sometimes I come across opportunities like that. Several years ago, I was driving on the 91 Freeway eastbound in the lane to take the 710 north. Near the end of the transition lane I ran over a piece of metal. It appeared to be very heavy and about 2 inches thick. Since I take this route often, I had run over this metal about 3 times. It didn't seem to be moving, even though thousands of cars and trucks had run over it. I formulated a plan to come back later to try and pick it up. I went back about 9PM when the traffic was slower. I returned in my truck because I knew it looked heavy. I parked on the shoulder before the metal. With a rope I had brought along, I threw out the rope and looped it around the metal and, when the traffic cleared momentarily, pulled--hard. It slid towards me with such force that it snapped off one of those reflectors on the side of the road. It was then that I saw that the metal was a machined piece exactly 3 inches thick by 4 feet by 4 feet. And it was heavy! I got my heavy screwdriver and a hammer. I hammered the screwdriver under the metal enough to put the hammer under it. I then got my fingers under it and stood it up on end. I walked it over to the back of my truck, opened the doors and lifted it into the truck. I must have weighed about 100 pounds.
The next day I went over to a friends machine shop to show him my prize. He offered me $500 on the spot. He was looking for something like this to put on his resurfacing table. It weighed exactly 200 pounds, and was obviously high quality steel. After measuring it with a straightedge, he found it to be perfectly level. Even after falling off a truck (I assume), and being run over countless times.
few months later I was driving home from a job replacing an engine in
I'm still keeping my eyes peeled!
Several years ago I went to service a customer's car. While I was there in his driveway, I noticed that he had a nice looking Pontiac in his garage. I asked him about it, because it looked pretty good. He explained that it was his Father's car. When his father died about 10 years ago, he left this car to him. Since he already had a good car, he just put it away in the garage and sort of forgot about it for nine years. He was planning to move out of state, so he decided to take the car out and have it fixed. The car was a black 1963 Pontiac LeMans Convertible with leather seats. Over the past year he had the convertible top replaced, and the whole car detailed, including the engine compartment. After putting on new tires, he took out an ad in the Los Angeles times to sell it. It had been two weeks since the ad, and he had gotten NO response. I asked him what price he advertised it for and he said he only wanted $2000 for the car. I told him that anybody seeing that ad would think that from the low price, they assumed the car was not worth restoring. This car was a Classic in perfect condition with 23,000 miles on it, so I told him to put another ad in the Times, this time advertise it for $15,000 and see what happens. He said he would try that but didn't have much hope for selling the car.
He called me up about a week later, telling me that he sold the car. When I asked him how much he got for it, he told me that the day after the ad came out, he had 3 guys at his house bidding on the car. He finally sold it for $17,000. He told me that a check for $500 was already in the mail for me.
Thinking back, I should have bought that car.
years ago on Superbowl Sunday, I had gone up to Rosemond to help my brother
with a project. I left his place for home about 4PM. I had gotten on the 14
Freeway heading south. When I passed Ave N in
A couple weeks ago, I got a call from one of my good customers. He drives an ACURA NSX. I might add that he drives it with, well, vigor! It seems that he was pulled over by the CHP for speeding on his way home one night. When the officer asked for his licence information, he told the officer a joke I had told him about a year ago. He asked me not to tell the joke here but call me and I will tell you. Anyway, the officer laughed so hard he just gave him back his license and told him to slow down. This was the 6th time he had used that joke to get out of a ticket. It seems that sometimes CHP officers DO have a sense of humor.
Several years ago I had a customer who had a 1989 Honda Accord Special Edition. She had called me up to replace her drivers window. It had gotten broken when someone tried to break into it. Well, a couple days later, I went out to her location and proceeded to replace the window. After vacuuming up the broken glass inside the car and inside the door, I began to reassemble the door. I finished the job and left. The next morning I got a call from the customer stating that the door locks didn't work. She told me in no uncertain terms how difficult it was to crawl out the window. Surprised, I asked her what was wrong with her finger? Puzzled, she answered nothing was wrong with her finger. she just couldn't open the door from the inside. I told her that she could just push up on the lock button to unlock the doors. She said she had never thought of that. She thought that the only way to get out of the car was to crawl out the open window, open the door, put up the window and close and lock the door. she had crawled out the window 3 times. This lady was 60 years old! I went out the next day and hooked up the single wire that operates the door locks (that I had forgot to hook up). Now, every time I work on her car, she insists that check that the door locks are operating properly.
About a year after the preceding incident, I got a call from another customer who happened to be that lady's next door neighbor. It seemed that the front brakes on her 1989 Honda Prelude were squeaking and needed replacement. I made an appointment and went out several days later. Her car was parked in her driveway all the way to the back. When I started, I put the car in neutral and released the emergency brake and let the car roll downhill several feet to have access to the front of the car for my floor jack. I pulled up on the emergency brake and proceeded to replace the front brake pads. After I was done, she paid me for my services and I left. Later that night I received a phone call from her, saying that she had had a little accident. It seems that she wanted to go to the market after I had worked on her car. She got into her car and tried to release the emergency brake. Well, being 64 years old and not as strong as me, she couldn't get the brake handle pulled up far enough to release the brakes. She tried and tried but to no avail. Then she had an idea...she got out, pulled the seat forward and climbed into the rear seat with both feet on the floor and both hands on the brake lever. Pulling hard, she finally was able to release the brakes. When she did, the car was still in neutral, so naturally, it started rolling downhill. She was so stunned when the car started rolling that she just screamed and froze. The open door hit a large pole at the end of her driveway, snapping it off at the hinges, then continued down the street until she realized that she had her hands on the emergency brake. She then pulled up on the lever and got the car stopped before hitting anything else. I went out the next day and replaced the hinges on the door for no charge, and gave her my sincerest apology. The only evidence of the incident was a slight dent on the inside of the door.
Bureau of Automotive Repair
A couple years ago, I got a call one morning from a gentleman who said that he was a representative of the Bureau of Consumer affairs, automotive division. He told me that there was a problem with my business and he and his partner needed to see me right away. I told them where I was going to be the entire day. (That day, I was changing a transmission in Long Beach), and gave him the address. I went to work as I usually do and started working on the car. About 4 hours later, two men in black business suits and briefcases found me in Long Beach. They had come from Sacramento to see every aspect of my business, so I told them to look around at anything they wanted. I went back to work on the transmission. After several minutes, they started asking me all sorts of questions, which I answered to the best of my ability. It seems that they had come across my name through a customer whose car I had worked on several years before. She had taken her car in for service at another shop and had a problem with their work. She submitted a complaint to the Bureau of Consumer Affairs. They investigate all claims submitted to them. In the process, she gave them the past maintenance records for her car which included several of my invoices. Since my registration number is printed right on the top of my invoices, they put my registration number into their computer and came up with nothing. It showed that I had been in business for 25 years and not had a single complaint against my business in those 25 years. They thought that this had to be a mistake, so they decided to investigate me.
When they were interviewing me while I was working, they couldn't find anything wrong. They thought it was impossible for anybody to be in the automotive repair business for 25 years and not have a single complaint against him. I just told them that I treat my customers like my friends. And that if anything was wrong with anything I had done in relation to their car, I would immediately come back and fix it. No arguments, no charges, no problems. That was just the way I run my business.
By then, I had finished replacing the transmission. I started the car and let it warm up for a few minutes. Then, I test drove the car, taking them along. As I pulled out to the street, I floored the throttle, taking them by surprise. I pushed the transmission to it's limit. They thought that this was abusing the car, but I explained to them that whenever I test drive a car after working on it, I test it to the limit, because I KNOW what that limit is. If the car can take the limit I give it, I know that the customer will probably never see that limit. Upon my return, the customer came out and paid for the service. They talked to the customer, asking him several questions. Afterwards, they interviewing me for about an hour, asking about every facet of my business. They were both satisfied that they had found a legitimate, honest, trustworthy, and dependable businessman. One of them told me that if he had a Honda or Acura automobile, he would drive down from Sacramento to have me service his car.
My Grandmothers Legacy
When I was growing up in southern
In 2003, my Father developed an aneurism and I needed to make an emergency trip back there. I was there for a couple days, my father was recovering in good condition. My mother suggested that this would be a good time to go to the grandparents gravesite and clean up the area. We went back home and got cleaning utensils and proceeded to the graveyard. When we arrived, I looked around and saw literally hundreds of bouquets of artificial flowers. I asked my mother who took over making the flowers after my grandmother died. She said "nobody, those are the same flowers she made". That was over 35 years ago. The flower bouquets were still beautiful and vibrant. Everybody in town knew her as "The Flower Lady". I wonder how much longer those flowers will last.
From time to time, customers will ask me to check out a vehicle that they are considering buying. When I check out a vehicle for a customer, I make it a point to push the car to it's limits. This usually includes acceleration, braking and handling. If it will handle what I can give it, it will handle anything a customer can do to it. Several months ago, a customer called me up and asks if I could meet her at a Honda dealership in Orange County to check out a 2005 Honda Accord V6 coupe. I set up an appointment for the following Sunday afternoon. When I arrived at the dealership, I found the customer. She informed me that she had changed her mind on the car she wanted me to check out. Instead, she had me check out a 2005 Honda S2000 6 speed. This car was built to be a sports car, so I jumped at the chance to drive one again. Since the salesman was required to accompany any test drive, I had to leave the customer there while I test drove the car with the salesman in the passenger seat. When I left the dealership, I got on the freeway and just floored it. This car went from 0 to 135 in a matter of seconds. The salesman was shaking like a leaf and holding on for dear life. We had gone down the freeway a short distance then got off at the next exit, testing the anti-lock brakes. When I was getting back on the freeway around a 25 MPH curve, I told the salesman to watch the speedometer. By the time I got straightened out on the freeway I was doing 75 MPH! He had never been in one of these cars (what he thought was an econo box) before. He had just started working at this Honda dealership, having left the Nissan dealership recently. He said he was familiar with the performance of the Z cars, but this was, he thought, faster. When we got back to the dealership after the test drive, the salesman could barely walk and told me that he was surprised that this car could perform like it did. The customer ended up buying the car and still enjoys driving it, and driving it hard.
Don't Mess With Honda Bob!
Several weeks ago, I was visiting my local Electronics store. While driving around looking for a parking spot, I sighted a car just pulling out of a space next to a large SUV that was parked across 3 parking spaces. There was a guy in the passenger seat listening to Rap music that hollered to me that he thought I was too close to his vehicle. I told him that it was a valid parking space as I walked away. After returning to my car, I found the SUV empty and locked up, but was about six inches from my drivers door. Unable to enter my car from the drivers side, I looked around for the owner of this vehicle to ask him to move. After about a minute of contemplation, I removed the floor jack from the back of my car and jacked up the rear of the SUV. With the back wheels off the ground, I pulled the SUV away from my drivers door enough to allow me to get in. While It was up on my jack, I figured, what the hell! I placed a couple jack stands under the rear axle, leaving the back wheels about a foot in the air. I threw my jack into the back of my car and quickly left. I hope he learned his lesson!
Update...The other day I went back to the same electronics store. I parked in the same general area I had parked before. When I came back to my car, the car next to mine was gone and in the asphalt was two triangular imprints of the jack stands when the SUV was on them. The jack stands had sunk into the hot asphalt about half an inch and left permanent impressions.
About 10 years ago, I got a call from an elderly man in Sherman Oaks to change the clutch on his gold 1988 Honda Accord LX 4 door 5 Speed. Well, I went out and did the job for this very short man. Afterwards, he asked what I would recommend to help him sit up higher in his seat. I recommended getting a used drivers seat from a 1994 Honda Accord EX. This seat has a motor to raise and lower the seat height. He readily agreed and about a week later, I installed this seat. He was sitting up high and was delighted.
About 4 months later, I got a call from a man in
Last year I got a call from the customer in
I thought it very coincidental that two men, who hadn’t been in contact with each other for 50 years, end up in the same area of the country with IDENTICAL cars, with nearly IDENTICAL mileage, with IDENTICAL problems. And in the end, they both died within 24 hours of each other.
was in the U.S. Air Force, I worked part time as a Yamaha motorcycle mechanic
in the nearby
Well, I took off and accelerated through all the gears, right up to the
redline in each gear. A short time later I was back in
About two weeks later, I was on duty on the flight line of the air base changing a rear stickgrip in a T-38 talon trainer aircraft, when the pilot, a Captain, was on the ladder watching me and waiting for his plane with a student in the front seat, when he mentioned a funny thing he saw a couple weeks earlier. I asked what was that? He told me that he was coming in for a landing with a student when he looked down at the Hwy 90 that parallels the runway, and saw someone on a yellow motorcycle traveling faster than he was landing. (The T-38 landing speed is 150 MPH.) I told him in uncertain terms that I thought he was lying, but he assured me he was being truthful. I didn’t have the nerve to tell him it was ME on that motorcycle. I just walked away with a big grin.
"There he is...grab him"
A couple years after I had retired from the Air Force, I took a road trip
While in the military, I was assigned temporary duty in
I shipped out a couple weeks later. When I got back to my home base, I got a paycheck for the 6 months I spent in Thailand, and combat pay for being close to Viet Nam. I even got a service medal for being in a combat zone, but I never did wear it because I didn't think it was justified. With the extra money, I was able to buy my first new car: a new 1974 Honda Civic. I've had nothing but Honda's ever since.
It wasn't until 2 years later that I went back home to