Pinto Schminto & Hebby Chebby – Part 4

Warning: Explodes on impact

Warning: Explodes on impact

1974 Ford Pinto. My first whiff of new-car smell. Cost: $3250. Not the car of my dreams by any stretch, but the best deal on the lot. It had a squashed shape, as if the universe was baring down on it. Honestly? It reminded me of a knish.

Just add wheels

Just add wheels

A year into the marriage, with all $1300 of the wedding money spent attending rock concerts (saw Zeppelin at the Garden!) and living the high life, we had to find jobs. D. landed a position teaching art at a Long Island high school. My father pulled strings and got me a temp position as an inventory clerk for the NYC Department of Sanitation. Suddenly, we needed a second car.

Because D.’s job involved a longer commute than mine, he drove the Pinto. My father came through with a falling-apart 1963 Chevy Station II Wagon:

How low can you go

How low could I go

The first day on the job, I attacked the files on my desk like an auditor. But when the woman seated behind me whispered, menacingly: “Slow down,” I obligingly embraced the leaden pace of the civil servant. No wonder  NYC was going bankrupt.

How I loathed that job. Our office was annexed to a garage that was filled with snowplows and dump trucks. Office clerks had to pass through it on their way to the restroom. One memorable morning, when I and a fellow employee (the aptly named: Mary Batts) crossed paths, she muttered under her breath: “I’m going to knock you off.”

Accordingly, please allow me to give a nod to the grossly unpopular Abe Beame, NYC Mayor at the time, for including my job description as part of the massive lay-off that occurred that same year.

If it weren’t for books, my mind might have eroded as rapidly as the Chevy II (whose many attributes included: a clothes hanger for an antenna, a hole where a radio used to be, a/c that blew hot air, glove box perpetually flung open — no latch, gas gauge stuck on “full,” blue smoke puffing out the back, electrically charged chrome trimming the doors) .

What I Was Reading: Rabbit Run; Rabbit Redux (Updike); The Sensuous Woman (“J”); I’m Ok, You’re Ok (Harris); How to Be Your Own Best Friend (Newman, etal); All the President’s Men (Woodward  and Bernstein)

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