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Smell of Gas on the Bridge

The Verrazano Narrows Bridge- PART TWO

We packed up the Jag, and headed out around 8:00 AM. Knowing that gas would most likely need a Personal Loan to fill her up in New York, we stopped by Royal Farms to top off the gas tank. I filled her all the way to the tippy top, squirting until I could hear the gas gurgling in the filler tube. I would come to regret THAT decision. The ambient temperature was 85 degrees. By the time we left the New Jersey Turnpike it was pushing 92. Hot. Lots of traffic, running rather quickly with me holding my own. When we got off the Verrazano Narrows Bridge onto Staten Island, well known for being NYC’s garbage dump. When they stopped letting NYC take barges of garbage out to sea for dumping in the once clear blue sea, they started burying it in Arthur’s Kill. A landfill. There’s another landfill there too, Fresh Kills…a very tenuous name for a landfill they used to dispose of all the remnants of the World Trade Center, the Twin Towers after 9-11-01. Fresh Kills. Wow. After they salvaged many of the beams and firetrucks and BIG items…they put the rest in the landfill. And covered it over with topsoil and planted trees and plants and it is now a memorial garden on the east side of the Staten Island Expressway.

The other landfill, with the garbage, Arthur Kill, well, it ‘s on the west side of the SIE, and it stinks. So when I first had a whiff of what smelled like gas…gasoline….I assumed it was from a refinery or a landfill. The scent lingered well past the landfill and Staten Island and the Belt Parkway and Cross Island, but when I got to my first stop in Port Washington…and still smelled gas, I figured I better stop and check it out. I pulled up Wakefield Avenue, right up to 22 where my grandmother lived. Took a picture, and a few more across the street of my friend Randy’s old house, and then I popped the hood for the S&L test (Sniff and Look). No gas dripping from a leaky fuel line, or spraying out of a faulty injector, no scent in fact. Tragedy averted for the time being. I drove by my school and the sandpit at the end of the road, then headed into town for lunch. Got me a REAL Roast Beef Sandwich and a pickle and bottle of root beer. Excellent. Onward to Cold Spring Harbor.

Somewhere between there and our hotel I stopped at a light, hit the gas, and the 390 horsepower engine felt more like a Yugo. No power. I was afraid to say a word, not wanting to worry Coletta. It was running, I could get up to speed, but r.e.a.l. slow. Then I got a brand new error message. Not the everyday CHECK ENGINE or ABS WARNING or VEHICLE STABILITY no….this was a new one: GEARBOX MALFUNCTION. Now for those of you who don’t know what a “gearbox” is, it is just that a box full of gears, or a case, metal case, and when you LOSE POWER and the gearbox or Transmission as we call it on our side of the pond, isn’t working right, THAT is a cause for concern. Especially when you are now five hours from home with a lot of stuff in between. I pulled into the first service station I saw. Not a “gas station” or WAWA or SHEETZ or ROYAL FARMS or 7-11, a Real “Car Repair” station. One that from the looks of it had been there a long time. Decades even. Old. From the 1950’s, or 1940’s Old. But it spoke Tradition…to me. It was an Oasis. I pulled in.

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