It Might Be Old But I Still Love It – A Tragic Tale of Fire, Water & A Car Stereo
I recently got into a discussion with a friend of mine about something I owned. The item is old and useless to the average person but to me, it means the world. I just can't seem to part with it even though it barely works. My kids say its so old that it should be in a museum - that hurts. The item is special because it pertains to a particular incident in my life that taught me a valuable lesson.
Circa 1981. I had just purchased the very first car that I actually owned. No more borrowing the family car to go places, no sir, I was free to be mobile anytime I wanted. So what did one do back in the 70's and 80's after one purchased a car? Well, they bought a kickass sound system to go in it. Everyone who would get a car would immediately get a 40w Power Booster. It would blow out the cheap stock speakers in just a matter of days, then you'd go to Radio Shack or an auto parts store and get some bitchin' Pioneer 6x9s. The sound sucked, but it was loud and no one knew about Bass because rap hadn't been invented yet. That's how we rolled.
So that's what I did. Bought me a Yamaha cassette receiver, added a 60 watt power booster, planted a couple of Pioneer 6x9's in the backseat and rocked! It was audio heaven my friend. AC/DC's Back In Black cassette never rocked harder. It was the most blissful two weeks on the planet for me...that is...until the incident.
The day began normal enough. I was at work with my friend Joe and we decided to drive around smoke some cigarettes and blare some "tuneage" (yes kids, that's what we called it) on the new power system. We returned to work and went back to our usual job of stocking shelves at the local grocery store. About twenty minutes later there was commotion out in the parking lot. Several firetrucks were extinguishing what appeared to be a car fire. Only the car looked vaguely familiar to me. I ran outside and nearly collapsed with shock as I watched fire fighters dousing my backseat with a flow of water from their hose that could knock over an elephant. In the parking lot, next to my car, was my backseat and one of my Pioneer 6x9's totally destroyed by water and fire.
Cause of fire in my backseat was due to a cigarette that had been tossed from the car. Only instead of landing the dry grass and causing a forest fire, the wind from the motion of the car had forced the cigarette to fly back into the open window of the car and land in the backseat smoldering slowly until finally igniting.
Hours later I picked up my melted Pioneer speaker off the parking lot concrete, placed it in the backseat and drove home with the stench of smoke permeating throughout the car. For several months I carried around a smoky flavor. It was on my clothes and in my hair every time I used the car but I didn't care. I pushed it all out of my mind and drove around oblivious to how much I stunk. The smoke smell from inside the car would never go away and eventually I gave in and got rid of the car.
I kept the sound system and its damaged speakers as a reminder of how dangerous smoking is. Sure, its dangerous for your lungs and heart and blah, blah, blah...but there is nothing more dangerous to a young man and his cool factor and street cred then smoking . You see, going on a date or picking up some friends for a night out with a car that you can smell 6 blocks away takes a toll on you socially.
So anytime someone brings up "Why do you keep that old car stereo in the garage?" I can point out the real dangers of smoking because lets face it, young people will heed to the dangers to their social life way more than they will with the dangers to their health.
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