The Day I Bought A Burger

Looking back in time I thought I be a bit nostalgic today. There was a time many years ago when I finally got my first car. It was a 1979 Silver Anniversary TransAm. That was some car to have as a first. I was 28 when I was able to get it. A friend of mine worked on cars a lot and he fixed this one up and tricked it out in every way. I had just broken up with my girlfriend of six years so I kind of considered this a good consolation prize.

I hadn’t really driven before because it wasn’t really necessary in San Francisco and I just figured that anywhere I needed to get in the city would take me about an hour on Muni. Things were about to change for me. I could date outside my neighborhood for one. Hell, I could date outside the city even. It took me a while to realize that. Since I wasn’t used to driving even though I got my driver’s license at 21 I mostly just drove around the neighborhood. Then about a week after I had the car I drove and bought a burger.

It wasn’t really much of a trip and I wasn’t even really that hungry, but I drove the car across the park the Richmond to the Jack in the Box on 11th and Geary and bought a burger and fries. I sat in the car eating them and just realized that I had the ability to do something as stupid as hop in the car and drive 10 minutes to get a burger. Not an hour on Muni, but 10 minutes. The world suddenly got smaller. I kind of had a feeling like Mel Gibson in Braveheart where I wanted to stand and scream FREEDOM! [granted in the movie he had just been castrated and disemboweled, but I’ll leave that part aside.]

Soon I worked up the courage to drive on freeways and suddenly I was driving to friends houses in South Bay or Marin for parties. Why I actually got so good at driving that I was pulled over on Mission street at 4am and had a cop screaming at me for going 75mph. I didn’t get a ticket that night, but did realize that I was letting things go to my head a bit.

I dialed things down a notch and started getting better gas mileage. I remember being outraged at having to pay $1.39 a gallon for premium gas. Times were good back then. There was less to worry about we all had jobs and money and I could drive all over the city to buy stuff. I miss my TransAm, but I don’t miss having to wonder if it would start in the morning or having my head under the hood changing the spark plugs every couple of months [the car had 139,000 miles on it when I bought it.]

The car lasted me only about eight months before it became too much of a burden and I had to sell it after getting a toned down 1984 Firebird. It wasn’t turbo-charged like the TransAm, but it still had a lot of muscle. I still have fond memories of that first car and it’s huge ass tires and how I learned to drive it slow so I could get girls to stop and look at me. Those were good times, yep, good times.


Yesterday I was taking a leisurely drive through Golden Gate Park when I noticed a motorcycle behind me with the driver wearing a white helmet. The motorcycle didn’t look like a normal street bike, but more of an off road type. The driver kept accelerating aggressively coming up on my tail repeatedly so I sped up to give him some room. All of the sudden I noticed the red and blue lights flashing and I pulled over. It was a stealthy park cop.

I trust my gut when things like this happen and I was sure I going to fast. When ever I get pulled over for speeding and it’s very rare it’s usually because I didn’t see the cop behind me or I did and they getting all up on my tail which forces me to accelerate. I should probably slow down and let them run into me which I could then sue the police department for soft body damage, but I’m not like that.

The cop walked up and didn’t ask me if I knew what I did wrong. He told me he clocked me at 45 mph and the speed limit was 25 mph. He was probably right, I do tend to be a bit of a speed demon on city streets, freeways, not so much. I’ve noticed when cops tell you what you did wrong they usually let you go. I’ve got a clean driving record which he might have checked and in the end he let me go without a ticket.

Now I bring this up because I’d like you all to try driving at 25 mph on city streets and if you’re near a school in San Francisco you have to drop to 15 mph. I was driving past Lincoln High School a couple of days ago and dropped to 15 mph. It was a weekend so no kids were around, but within 30 seconds I had cars honking at me or zooming around me. I watched as a jogger ran past me. I’m all for pedestrian safety, but when a jogger runs past your car that usually means you’re going to slow. Cruise control doesn’t kick in unless you’re going 30 mph so I can’t even use that to help me out.

While driving around yesterday I started comparing my speed to other vehicles. The L-Taraval I clocked at 40 mph and people claim how slow Muni is. Think of what they’d start to say if they actually drove the speed limit.  The 48 Quintara maintains the speed limit going uphill, but hit 45 mph going downhill. I’m not sure what to make of any of this other than if you’re driving through Golden Gate Park watch out for the cops on off road bikes. They’re making a statement at the moment and you don’t want to be the one pulled over.