Oct. 1st, 2013

wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
This last weekend was stupendous. Stupendous because my company allowed me to spend a weekend driving a Fire Sand 2013 F-Type Jaguar (V6 Supercharged) convertible. Driving that car was an amazing experience. What’s even more exciting is that when this project contract began for me working at Jaguar Land Rover North America, that particular F-Type completely captured me.

One day after I parked my Passat to go into work, I noticed that F-Type for the first time. Why? Because it was a Fire Sand F-Type convertible. "Fire Sand" is a cool term for "burnt orange" or "pumpkin". The color is totally intriguing and the body of the car captivated me completely - it looks like an animal. I took 5 or 6 pictures of the car as if it was parked on some side street in Chelsea (something I’ve done, btw).  On my way home that same evening, I mentioned to Matthew, “I just wanna drive that car for a day. Just one day. Is that too much to ask?”

Well, this past weekend, I did just that!  I had won a raffle at a company meeting a couple of months ago; 12 winners of the raffle would be able to drive a company car (a Jag or a Land Rover/Range Rover) for a weekend. I was one of the winners!

Over those three weekend days, I drove at least 500 miles.  Plus, I drove at least a total of 26 hours – just over a day’s worth of driving. Apparently, “Just one day,” isn’t too much to ask! I got my full day of driving just as I had wished and I got to see the car parked in my space for the weekend (I had to leave my Passat parked in the company parking lot for the weekend. More on that on a later, different post…).

At the initial button push, the Jag growled at me when he started up; his grin was tangible. He had me before the first growl. He had been waiting for me to get inside and push his buttons since my eyes squinted at the sun sparkling off his curves the first time. He wanted to be driven. He clearly didn’t want to sit still or be parked.  I brought his top down and pulled out of the parking space, When I rounded the first corner, he seemed to want more of that curve, so I gunned the engine a bit, He smiled and ate that curve in one bite. And then the next one: CHOMP! He was looking forward to the weekend as much as I was.

I pulled up to get Matthew from work (who now works about 5 miles from my office).  Matthew told me later that EVERYONE walking out of that office building was staring at the car. I didn’t notice them because I was looking at everything in the car – the controls, the lights, windows, the mirrors, and the radio.  Matthew was beaming because he knew I was excited for the weekend.  He got in and put on his seat belt. I asked him one simple question: “Are you ready?”

“For what?” he countered.
I asked him again: “Are you ready?”
“Uh. Yes?” he said apprehensively.

Making sure no one was in front of me, I took off toward the edge of the parking lot. Fire Sand snapped our heads back against our head rests.

“OH JESUS!” Matthew exclaimed. “SLOW DOWN!”
“I’m only going 15 miles an hour, grandpa.”
(^^ That exchange repeated itself quite frequently over the course of the weekend…)

When we were leaving the office park, getting onto Interstate 287 South for a bit and back onto 17 South to go home, there’s a very fun curve and Matthew almost shit a couple of bricks as we rounded it.  The suggested speed around the curve was a measly 25… my boy wanted to take it at about 35 MPH. So, I gave it to him and then some.

All the cars on 287S saw me coming onto the road and slowed down (or was I going faster than them?).  I got across the four lanes to the left quite safely, but quickly because 17S comes up right after that curve. 

BOOM! We were on 17S heading home.  All the way down 17S and eventually onto I-80E (another Interstate highway), so many people could not keep their eyes off the car. A couple of handsome guys in fun cars (not sports cars, though) raced up to meet my car. They safely kept their eye on the road in front of them, but checked out the car, me, Matthew, the car, me, and then gave me the thumbs up or an “OK” sign with BIG smiles.

We pulled into our building about 30 minutes later and I was able to dash in, change clothes, and head back out to drive down to visit my buddy Joey for dinner. The drive down, with the top down, was almost fully on the NJ Turnpike all the way down. I picked up Joey and we raced off to Princeton.

The best part about all of those routes was that I could drive at least 65. I positioned myself with traffic, so that I didn’t stand out. I also used my cruise control quite a lot, so that I didn’t inadvertently go over the speed limit.  At 65 MPH, it felt as though he was plodding along at about 30 MPH – he even yawned a couple of times when I sped up to pass someone. 

Cops didn’t seem interested in the car at all, which was just fine with me.  Someone at work told me that cops “respect” Jaguars due to the owners/drivers of Jaguars or something, but I noticed that cops – the entire weekend – were uninterested in the car.  I had always heard that if you drive a sports car, beware of cops. So, I was paying attention. I mean, I wasn’t driving erratically, recklessly, or exceptionally fast (except for that one time…). So, there was no real reason for them to approach me as it was. Still, that warning was playing in my head all weekend, which was probably a good thing – given my history with speeding tickets from when I was in high school (different story for a different post…).

Saturday was the friends tour. I drove to four different friends’ houses to show them the car and give them a ride. A couple of them live close to highways, so I was able to show them a little of what the car could do. One of them had never been in a convertible, much less and actual sports car. Two friends weren’t home, so I took a picture of the car in front of their house; at least their house got to see the car!

By Sunday, Matthew had plotted out a route for us to drive up to New Paltz and Kingston, NY, that included highways and country roads. He found a marina for us to visit, a resort (that we might want to return to for dinner, at least), and in the end, I chose for us to return home a different route than how we got to our destination; I-87 (the NY Thruway) was really backed up close to the NJ/NY border and we would have been stuck in tons of traffic. 

Along the way up there and back, there were lots and lots of twists and turns, hairpin curves, mountains, big hills, river vistas, and plenty of onlookers. We had a great time driving all over the place! Here’s a snippet of some of the roads and terrain we traversed along our road trip on Sunday.

Mountain Curves
Hairpin CurvesPalisades Pkwy
Monday morning came a little too quickly when I had to turn him back into the company. He’s been sitting in the same place since I parked him there. Feels like he’s looking at me, winking, and saying, “Ask for another weekend. C’mon! Let’s go!” 

Over the weekend, I took a ton of photos. Here’s a smaller collection of the best of the best from all that driving. We unfortunately had to stop from time to time, of course.

Part of me wishes that hot, fast Fire Sand cat was mine. The other, more practical part of me sat back with a sigh into my 2004 Passat, who’s paid for and running just fine, and drove to pick up Matthew after work. I didn’t really try to push my old guy too far, but from his brakes, I could tell he wasn’t too happy I left him for a hotter, younger, faster guy for a weekend fling.  He’ll get over it.
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Last weekend was a lot of fun with the Fire Sand Jaguar F-Type convertible. My post about it just went live a few minutes ago, in which I purposefully left a thread hanging from the story. It was left from the story because, frankly, it well deserved its own focus.
  1. It seems that my 2004 Passat is cantankerous. 
  2. It wasn’t good writing to distract from the previous post’s theme.
  3. The previous post’s theme was AWESOME!
  4. This current theme is about a jealous Passat.
When I plopped my little butt into the Fire Sand Jaguar F-Type convertible on Friday and drove away from my office for the weekend, of course, my 2004 Samoa Red Passat had to be left behind. After all, no one can drive two cars – safely – at once. It’s either one or the other. I took the other, hotter, faster car out for the weekend.

I’m frankly not sure what, if anything, transpired with my car whilst I was away traipsing around the countryside in the hottest thing on the NJ and NY highways and byways. My old guy was parked all alone in a Mahwah corporate parking lot for 2.5 days. 

Granted, there’s 24/7 parking lot security at my office, so my Passat was fine. He was safe. I’m certain he felt lonely and neglected without so much as a “See ya!” from me.

After turning in my Jaguar from the weekend, my Fire Sand was watching me throughout the day as I walked from building to building.  After work, I got into my old 2004 Passat, happily content with his practicality.  Happy that he’s paid for and that, in large part, I don’t really have to worry about him at all.

Work ended and Matthew was waiting patiently for me at his office 5 miles up the road on the NJ/NY border.  I got on the highway and was carefully navigating traffic, across lanes to the left and back to the right - the normal ebbs and flows of evening rush hour traffic. I kept noticing that my right side passenger rear-view mirror was wobbling.

I used the little turn knob on my side to push the mirror upwards, downwards, sideways and back to get the mirror to snap back into place. I didn’t realize that the actual glass was the wobbly bit. I didn’t realize that the wind was getting behind the mirror and loosening it from the flat plastic base. In an instant, as I was pushing the position knob back upwards, the mirror popped off and flew into the air behind me! I feel like I heard a “clink-clink-splatter” on the pavement to my back right as I sped away unable to stop and make sense of it all.


I exclaimed, “There it GOES!” to no one in particular with my windows open. “THERE IT WENT!” I screamed again to the gas station sign I was passing. Just really to myself – albeit loudly.  It was sort of a helpless feeling, witnessing my 2004 Passat turning into a zombie before me – with me inside!

I smacked my right hand onto the top of my steering wheel and rested my forehead against my left hand with my elbow on the window sill.

“Hope they have a mirror!” I said out loud to the air whipping around through my car, speaking, of course, about the VW dealership on the way home. What an inconvenient and odd thing to happen after such a nice weekend with my Fire Sand Jaguar!

And there it was. My old 2004 Samoa Red Passat was JEALOUS!  Jealous that I took another car home. Fuming that another, younger, hotter vehicle got to see the hilly countryside in upstate NY. Stewing all weekend by himself in a lonely parking lot, scheming of ways to say, “See?! How’s THIS for leaving me behind?! Huh?! You need to pay attention to me!  Spend time with ME for a change, why doncha?! IN FACT, I want something new for ME because I deserve it.”

And so he made me spend money on him.  To the tune of $100!  Honestly, I’ve done the same thing before with a previous boyfriend in a similar situation. I get it.

Needless to say, the parts department at both convenient VW dealerships were either closed or closing before we could get to either. I had to wait to check with the dealership closest to my office till today, but we met “RD” along the way.

“RD” is a short, beefy (clearly) Italian bulldog who works at the Mahwah-local dealership.  Good arms, great tats, and excellent eye contact. Buzzed hair and furry belly. Yes. Furry belly. More on that later… “RD” explained to me yesterday, “Make sure that you push in the new one like this (demonstrating and checking in with me that I was watching him): In the middle… not on the sides. OK?”

“Yes, sir! Not on the sides, but push it good in the middle there.” I quipped without cracking a smile.

“Right! Grab onto the sides here (checking in again with me) and once you have it seated and plugged in just right, push it in the middle till you hear it snap. Hear that?” I nodded studiously. “That means it’s in place. Then you can get in and move it around.”

Yeah. I’m not totally sure if those were all the words or phrases he used in that order, but they seem plausible. In that order. In my head. Right? RD did show me and instruct how to insert the new mirror once I got it and his demo yesterday was totally cute.

On the way home last night without knowing whether I’d be able to get a real replacement today, we scooted by Pep Boys to see if they had a mirror I could glue onto the old plastic base.  “MacEnroy”, a handsome 50-yr-old, Latin fireplug, told us about a glass place “around the corner” that could cut out a perfect fit. Sounded good, but no dice; the place was closed – in fact, it closed at 4:30PM and at we got there at 6:15PM.  Ugh. So, we went back to Pep Boys and got a set up for about $10 that would get me through about 2-3 days of traffic, in case I had to wait a couple of days for the replacement mirror to be ordered - better to be safe than sorry!

Turns out the local VW place had one in stock and I picked it up today.  And RD installed it!  Oh, yes. And about his furry belly. I saw his furry belly today when I picked up my mirror from the dealership during lunch. I asked if “RD” was around cuz, after all, he’s the one who explained yesterday; I needed him to make sure it was pushed in just right - from in the middle, not the side.

He installed the mirror and made sure I heard it snap into place.  He wiped his fingerprints slowly off the mirror with this t-shirt and, in doing so, exposed his furry little belly.  When he was done with my mirror, he stood there holding his belly button (for no apparent reason) under his t-shirt as we finished talking. Of course, I couldn't leave until he turned to go back to work. It's only polite. ;-)  Plus, meeting RD and MacEnroy were fun silver linings,

It’s also good to know that my Passat’s got a jealous streak. For the next time I leave him behind for a different car…

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Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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