Old Cars open doors..
About a month ago I got a request from a high-end cosmetics company wanting to ‘rent’ my ’57 Pontiac Safari for their Mad Men-themed Holiday party in San Francisco. In reality, they just wanted my old car parked out in front of the club for 4 hours to add to the ambience, and so guests could take a picture with her if they so chose. The price was right and I was free that night, so why not? Throw the money in the car parts fund jar and everybody’s happy. As it got to the end of the evening, the girl who hired me asked for one favor before I left: Could I give the new company vice president a ride home in my Safari? Hmm. It’s getting late, I’m dog-tired and cold, and I want to get home, but how could I say no to giving a ride to an enthusiast that really appreciates vintage cars? This VP was a very nice German lady who had only moved to SF from Paris a few months ago, leaving behind a beloved Porsche Boxster and her mother’s late 50’s DKW still parked in the barn. We chatted away, driving up Lombard St. making our way back to downtown where she lived when I noticed the gas gauge creeping down near the dreaded “E”. Surely I had enough fuel to drop her off first and then fill up, right? Four blocks later I was regretting my decision to wait for petrol as the 3,900 pound beast chugged to a stop in Friday night traffic. I tried to push the wagon with absolutely no movement, and was then contemplated our impending long and embarrassing wait for a tow truck with gas. That’s when four young jocks appeared, happily sauntering up Lombard street.
“Whoa. Cool car, dude. What is that thing? It’s beautiful”
“Thanks. It’s a Pontiac Safari. How would you guys like to do your good deed for the evening?”
And before I knew it, three of us were pushing the Safari backwards into traffic, towards the gas station I passed. The VP was steering, and the tallest of the jocks was sending oncoming traffic around us. And that’s when it hit me: Random strangers often do nice things for people with old cars. They admire them, and us for driving them.
I filled up the tank, fired up the beast, and offered to take the 4 lads where ever they needed to go, and the German concurred. We rolled three across in the front and back seats, with the biggest guys in the back. The wagon was actually doing it’s job of hauling all six passengers the way God and Pontiac intended. A car load of total strangers (I never did get their names) with seemingly nothing in common, and we all talked excitedly about old cars and life in general. The jocks jumped out at a bar in the Mission District, extremely grateful for the ride, and the VP was dropped safely at her place downtown without a single complaint of our long detour.
As I jumped on the Bay Bridge and headed home, I couldn’t help but to pat the old girl on the dash for giving me one more memorable evening.