Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

Those who do not remember history are bound to live through it again.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Unregistered, Uninsured, Illegal & On the Road

Some people believe that all of us are allotted to commit one very stupid decision once in a great while. Well, mine came yesterday and I came out of it with a story to tell.

As a vintage Volkswagen enthusiast, I always look forward to VW shows in southern California. One of the much awaited VW shows in California is the ‘Bugin’ held in Irwindale, California. Different VW clubs compete on drag races and also classic VW shows. One of the main attractions of the show is the vintage parts swap meet (flea market). During these events my VW buddies and I would load up our vintage VW buses (Kombi) with old parts and antiques to be sold at the swap meet.

Initially, I wanted to load my parts into my VW Kombi but after laboring through half of my Saturday afternoon removing the heavy 1776cc engine off of my 1971 Deluxe VW bus, I did not feel like loading my parts in my bus anymore.

One of my vintage VW club buddies came by my house after dinner time and asked me if I could drive his VW single cab bus that he loaded with parts and an engine for the show. Knowing that he is struggling financially due to a separation with his wife, I decided to help him out by driving his bus for him.

I woke up at 4:10am the following day and hurriedly prepared breakfast to go. My friend came by my house shortly driving his 1957 bug. When I started the bus that is loaded with parts, I noticed that the registration of the vehicle had been expired since December 2011. I then asked my friend if he has accident insurance for his vehicle. He said he doesn’t. I became a bit uncomfortable with the idea of me driving an uninsured vehicle with expired tags. If I get pulled over by the police, I am looking at hundreds of dollars worth of fines. While we were discussing my concern, I felt that there is something wrong with the status of his driver’s license that is why he was afraid to drive his bus. I can tell that desperation is driving him to make unwise and selfish decisions. Though I am fully aware of his self-centered intension, I already made a promise to help him the day before and I intend to keep my promise.

We rolled through the streets with the sky still dark. While driving, I prayed to our Lord asking Him to keep cops away from my path.

The distance to our destination is about 35 miles and I kept on calculating the chances of me being pulled over. I also have a dreaded feeling whenever I approach potential locations along the freeway where the highway patrol are most active. My heart was pumping faster than usual and I was constantly checking the headlights of the cars behind me because the highway patrol cars have a distinctive headlight setup.

Cruising at 55 miles an hour, I checked the control panel and the gasoline gauge caught my attention—it was close to empty! I called my buddy who was following me with his bug and asked him if he put gas in the tank. He said he did, $10. What?! I wanted to pull over and strangle him for his stupidity but decided against doing it because that would just cause a delay in our progress towards our destination.

From a distance up ahead, I saw small flashes of red and white lights, a California highway patrol cruiser! My hands froze on the steering wheel. I doubled check my speed, 55 MPH. As I casually cruise passed the highway patrol, I noticed that he pulled a car and is questioning the driver of the car. I figured that there are not a lot of highway patrol cars operating early that Sunday morning and so my chances of being caught is slim.

Since I am not familiar with the road exit at the freeway, I told my friend to drive ahead of me so that I can follow him when he exits. After about a mile, he called me and said that we missed the freeway exit ramp and had to find another exit. This dumb mistake irked me quite a bit because we have to drive about 3 miles through another freeway to be able to find the right road exit at the freeway. I wanted to get off that freeway because I felt that at any moment a highway patrol car will be behind my tail with its lights flashing. I was finally able to relax when we arrived at our destination and there was a long line of old VW bugs and buses waiting for their turn to get into the show.

The show was great and I saw a lot of my VW friends and their families hunting for vintage parts. I did not buy a lot of parts because my garage is already loaded with vintage VW junk parts that I plan to sell at a VW show next month.

After the show, we packed up and the first thing I told my buddy was to find a gas station to put gas in his bus. Confident that he knew the way around Irwindale, I followed him through the side streets. After turning through several streets, he pulled over and called me on the cell phone to told me that he does not know where the nearest gas station is located at. “Are you kidding me, man? Let’s get out of this place!”, I said. 

About a mile up the road, I spotted a major intersection and told my buddy to drive to that location. I was relieved to find a gas station at the corner and we loaded our cars with gas.

It was about one in the afternoon when we headed back home. When we got to the freeway, my heart started to beat faster again. By that time, there were more cars on the freeway compared to when we drove to Irwindale. Anxiety started to creep into my nerves and I kept on checking the rear view mirror analyzing each of the cars behind me up to a quarter of a mile away hoping that none of them is a highway patrol cruiser. As I put more miles behind me bringing myself closer to my destination, it donned on me that the anxiety that I was experiencing is pretty much like the anxiety being felt by illegal immigrants when they take the risky path towards helping their family.

To keep my mind occupied, I tried to be positive by telling myself that nothing will happen to me and the law enforcement people are busy chasing law breakers and criminals. But my conscience reasoned that what I am doing is illegal too! Panic attack started hitting my nerves again. So much for positive thinking!

We finally arrived at the city where I live. After we got off the freeway ramp, my buddy called me and offered to buy me lunch. I quickly declined and told him that I just want to get home and get this nerve wracking stupid experience over with.

When I finally got off the vehicle, I sternly told my buddy that I am not doing that thing again even if he begs me until hell freezes over.


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