June 6, 2013 by Last Star blog
OK, and now for something completely different….(Monty Python)
Well the liquid medium was not working for us so we decided to take advantage of the presence of our first born (never trade your first born) to get a ride to go get our truck. When we travelled south down the ICW we put one of our vehicles at a nearby Air Force Base (AFB). The base had a killer deal where I could store the truck for $20/month on the RV & boat storage lot on a secure AFB. Now the truck is over 12 years old, has +105K miles and sitting the winter and spring in the sun in central Florida would not be a big deal. As I am a technical wizard I prepped the truck with fresh oil, tranny fluid, and a new battery. When I parked it, I put in fuel treatment, disconnected the battery and a fresh coat of wax. This would be a 5 minute stop.
Now of course the AFB has a very secure area for the boats, RVs, and cars and to keep it secure they keep the 4 digit code to open the $8 lock as secure as the codes to launch the US’s nuclear arsenal. To get this vital bit of information you must present yourself in person and with an ID to get the data from Zuul the “gate keeper”. Now as this is Memorial Day and 98% of the country has the day off, 99.95% of Government employees have the day off the remaining 0.05% are clearly the sharpest tools in the shed! So I present myself at the counter with ID in hand in quest of the Holy Grail of the secretive code to the master lock that keeps all secure at the RV lot. As the young lady asks me the reason for my visit I tell her I am seeking this magical code. I present my ID, my name, my intentions and am met with blank stare(s); the plurality is due to the fact that the eyes don’t really look in the same direction at the same time, so I think it is appropriate that it would be stares. I provide more information hoping to fire a spark and move this process along. Soon a LARGE 3 ring binder is pulled from under the counter and I hope that the tome will reveal the data needed to get Golem to release the “ring” and get me out the door. Now this monster binder is vomiting sheets of paper like a confetti parade for a World Series winner. I think I saw Neal Armstrong’s data for his ’68 corvette when he went to the moon–he returned, hopefully he got his car; probably needed to show ID. Now Grendel asks me if I know the number of my spot on the lot. Bear in mind I visited this spot ONCE back in November, left the truck and never returned until now. I look at her and say “eighty” hoping this will be faster and easier than spelling my complex (to her) surname. As I am looking at the vomiting binder upside down I promptly put my finger on the line that says 80 (numerical order–how hard is that?) and my name–freaking magic!! Well it appears that when 2013 snuck up on the department ALL members were required to complete a new form for the year. Never mind that in November I paid for a full year; I guess that in November this new form was still just a little nascent idea in the mind of the crack security team that keeps all those boats, RVs, and old cars and motorcycles secure. I MUST now fill out a new form! YGTBSM. So my new best friend begins to leaf through a master-file of forms looking for the proper form. After about 6-9 sheets I realize that she may soon find the form and then go to the copier to make another 100 copies while I continue to wait. As she continues to rifle the “master-file” which is in fact just a pile of crap forms with “master” in yellow hi-lighter all over the front to prevent the last form being used, I calmly reach across the counter (no I didn’t slap her) and pull a fresh form from the inside pocket of the front of the binder. The look of shock and glee on her face was amazing. Like a child seeing Santa Clause–really. No shit she was truly amazed. I am told this is the form (imagine my surprise) which I must fill out. I kindly ask her for my old form so I can ensure that I put the “same lies as last time”. This little bit of sarcasm is lost on her. What is amazing about all of this is that we started the entire process on a computer!?? Who puts the paper forms into the computer? Why was the data not there in the first place? Why the hell am I getting pulled into this madness? Finally I am now cleared into the “circle” and given the code for the secure area. This is secretively written down on a yellow post-it and passed to me discreetly across the counter; never mind we are the only two in the store. As I am preparing to leave the gate-keeper informs me that “the code will change on the first of June!” Again, I try to blink hard to get the sparks to clear from my eyes. Deep breaths…deep breaths….
I stumble outside into the waiting arms of my eldest who eases me into his car before I have an infarctus. With code securely tucked away in my brain and the post-it being chewed and swallowed we are in route to the RV lot. We work the necessary magic on the lock, drive around the corner and there is my truck. It actually looks pretty good as it has had rain on it but not been driven so still pretty clean. Now with the battery disconnected the key fob is not much use so we must go old school and use the key to open the door. We get all the doors open and get some cooler air flowing in there then we pop the hood and reconnect the battery; sweet dome lights! I put in the key, give it a twist and the battery does what it does best, it turns the starter…..and turns the starter and turns the starter. Hmmmmm? Not good. Alek and I look at the motor and are not pleased. Well Alek gets his smart phone out and I ask him for a nearby Auto Parts store. There are none….grrrrr. He is kind enough to drive us to a store about 10 minutes away for a can of engine starter. We return and feed the whole can (not at once) into the air intake and the car tries to run on the meager amount of combustible material that comes from the can. I’m thinking the fuel is just not getting to the injectors. Next call is USAA for a tow–lovely. I get on the phone with them. “yes I am in a safe location..” in regards to their question. I tell them I need someone who can get access to the base. They say no problem. After a short hold they tell me SOS towing is coming, pass me the number and indicate Andy will be right there. Now as it is Memorial Day the traffic on A1 is ass, Andy calls me about 20 minutes later saying the traffic is killing him, sorry for the delay. Patricia and Alek have gone to the commissary to get some things and pass the time. I am sitting in the lot waiting. Andy calls me again and tells me he is nearby, where am I? I tell him south gate, RV lot 100 yards to the left. He tells me he MUST go through the inspection gate. I tell him I can most likely get him through the south with my ID and ride in the truck with him but he’s unsure. OK, fine, where’s this inspection gate? Off of 1A he tells me, no shit. I get Alek back on the phone, out of the commissary and go in search of Andy. We finally find him by leaving the base, and going down 1A ourselves. Now the SOS truck looks like it is on life-support. Andy is about 25, bright green Hi-Vis T-shirt, tattoos up and down his arms (sticks really) and he has about 4 teeth. I guess that is what meth does to you? He’s a nice kid and very animated; some might call it agitated. His teeth are so decayed that it hurts to look at them. He calls the SPs who have to come out and open the gate just for him to pass. I show them my ID and they let us pass. Andy is perplexed why he isn’t searched and I tell him because I vouched for him; just like I could have done at the SOUTH gate. Well Twitchy Andy follows us to the RV lot and gets the truck hooked up. He recommends Dave’s Beach side garage (Alek’s smart phone indicates location and mostly positive reviews) so we are off. The truck gets dropped off, the next day I call Dave’s and surprise surprise it is the fuel pump! Now the whole “assembly” must be replaced, drop the tank, 3 hrs of labor. Parts and labor $714 dollars–sweet. We get the truck the next day. Wonder what it will cost to get the boat running.