Herman and I were driving back from physical therapy one day when we heard a clanging. Herman didn’t like the sound of it.
It was when we were just about at Dick & Peg’s Northward Inn that the front left wheel went off in the ditch and we were riding on the rotor (Herman says that’s what it is called). Once he got the car safely pulled over to the side, we were fortunate enough to have a Good Samaritan drive up and offer us a ride home.
This incident reminds me of all the car headaches I had in L.A. when I was pursuing an acting career. When I arrived in L.A. my first order of business was finding a vehicle. I hadn’t needed a car in Manhattan, as I was a regular subway rider. You absolutely need a car in L.A.
A car was needed not just to get to auditions and chase my dream of being an actress. I also needed it to get to my “means to an end” job of being a waitress. As an aspiring actress I was in fact becoming a very proficient waitress.
I was looking in the classifieds for what I thought would be a car both good on mileage and cheap to buy. I found it in a white 1978 Honda Civic hatchback. I got it for $1,500 and it got nearly 40 miles per gallon. So I was on the road.
The only problem was, the car kept overheating. I would see the temperature gauge rise, go to my local gas station, have the fluids checked, then be on my way. But I was avoiding the real problem, which was a blown head gasket. I knew replacing it would cost a lot of money and I kept putting it off.
I had to travel about 45 minutes into Hollywood for auditions, and I couldn’t make the trip without adding coolant. It didn’t make for a very reliable ride to an audition and certainly wouldn’t make a very good impression on a prospective employer.
Cell phones weren’t in vogue back then, and if I missed an audition there was no mercy or second chances. I wasn’t able to check in with my agent unless I got off the freeway and used a pay phone. Remember those days without cell phones?
I nursed the car along, but my boyfriend of the time had to take me to auditions for a while if I wanted to be sure to get there. Not that it mattered, in retrospect. L.A. was full of acting hopefuls and I never really needed a car to get to my big break.