originally published June 2015
In a few weeks, I will embark on my most ambitious road trip thus far: An epic 40-hour, 2,700-mile journey from Miami to Los Angeles — in a Fiat.
It is not the actual driving that will be my biggest challenge. Nor the inevitable lull in conversation, the ill-timed bathroom stops or the passive-aggressive “go ahead and play your music” that will break me. It is the fact that the car — the brand new, 7-month-old car — is already broken.
I had envisioned all sorts of plot twists in my personal Cannonball Run movie, from getting pulled over to getting lost, but in every scenario, I imagined getting out of these messes with my Burt Reynolds-like charm (and mustache).
Yet, the thought of being stranded while driving through northern Florida, the southern tip of Alabama, and all of Louisiana, Texas and Arizona (or the states otherwise known as the places least qualified to handle a temperamental Italian Fiat driven by newlywed lesbians that are legal latinas in possession of a hairless dog from China) is making me rethink this whole adventure.
I was counting on my Fiat to whisk me through the deep South with little-to-no fanfare, but now I can’t be sure because the car, as if a perfectly constructed metaphor for the region its driving, only moves in reverse.
That’s right, I have a gearbox problem. More specifically, the problem stems from my 500L’s super fancy Euro twin-clutch, which, as it turns out, is not meant to be driven in heavy traffic, or in extreme weather, or too aggressively or too softly or…well, it’s not meant to be driven at all.
As I’m told, this dual transmission technology is the same system that is used in Ferraris. A fact that I will be sure to share with my car when its feeling bad about its appearance.
“Don’t be sad about your boxy figure Fiat 500L, you are really a Ferrari on the inside.”
I was informed of this ridiculous fact not by the sales guy 7 months ago, but by my service coordinator, Guillermo, who now has to fix my Fiatari. Like that bit of news was somehow supposed to make me feel better. That a group of Italian engineers had the wherewithal of installing the transmission of a Ferrari in a five-door wagon, but not, let’s say, I don’t know, a more comfortable arm rest. These brilliant men (I have full confidence they are all males), have done the equivalent of installing roller skates on a cow.
An analogy I’ll remember when I’m stranded on a dairy farm, pretending that my wife is my sister and my dog is a ferret and my car is a Chrysler.
Unluckily, the last one is not so far from the truth.