Archive for the Bullitt Category

Bullitt Lite

Posted in American University, Bullitt, House Post Office, Longworth Building, Plymouth Horizon, The Italian Job, The Vanishing Point, Trans Am, TransAm, Uncategorized on May 19, 2011 by smpiv

1.

Like many American males I love cars and movies with cars. If I had my druthers and monetary wherewithal I would have a garage full of American, German, Italian, Japanese and whoever’s high performance car.

So, let’s see, my first car, a 1974 Ford LTD. It had belonged to my grandfather.

And my second car? A 1981 Plymouth Horizon that I managed to keep on the road for over eleven years and 130,000 miles. It wasn’t a particularly good looking car and by the time I had it towed to the junk yard it was downright ugly.

The list doesn’t get any more interesting following the Horizon, so I won’t bore you with it.

If I could be a stunt driver in any movie it would be either “Bullitt”, “The Vanishing Point” or the original “The Italian Job”. I was driving the Horizon when I had my Steve McQueen moment, my Bullitt moment.

2.

Easily one of the most interesting jobs I had was working in the House Post Office in the Longworth Building. And one of the most interesting parts of the job was the interesting cast of characters I worked with.

All were there through some direct, indirect and, in my case, very indirect relationship with a Congressman or woman. We were all in patronage positions, every mail pitching, box chucking one of us.

There were a few congressional children who worked all year round, but during the summer a hoard of them showed up. Some even displaced people who had come on with the understanding that they would be gone to make room for the kids. Some of these congressional children worked, others showed up on payday, and some skipped all formalities and had their checks mailed to them. But I digress.

On the particular night I will describe I was with a co-worker whom I got along with very well and spent time socializing with after work. This night he had asked me for a ride home because his car was in the shop and his girlfriend was unavailable—we will call him M and he was not a congressional child.

Our shift ended at 10pm so the streets of DC were relatively empty as we headed toward his house in Northwest, close to American University. We chatted aimlessly, laughed too loud and repeated one of our favorite stories that ended—“I bumped my head………twice,” said with a Southern drawl, the bitter end of a tail of one of our lesser co-workers. You had to be there.

At this point I’m fairly sure we were on Military Road when I saw some headlights coming very fast towards us in my rearview. My car rocked as a TransAm busted past us at a very high rate of speed.

“Holy shit!” screamed M.

“Wow”, I added.

And then? And then a Hollywood stunt turn in the wild. One of those where the ass end of the car slides around one hundred and eighty degrees with the wheels smoking as they try to overcome the cars inertia and get it moving in the opposite direction.

And it did. It literally leaped at us head on.

Now if I got anything from my test-pilot father it would be coolness in adverse situations. I was intent on the TransAm while M, with a death grip on his seat, was screaming—and I have to say it—like a girl. The Trans Am was coming at us head on and accelerating.

At this point all went silent and I remember thinking that this guy was in control. My choices were limited because I didn’t know who he was or what he was after, so I realized my safest bet was to keep going straight and let him do whatever he wanted. He was obviously trying to scare the hell out of us and M had already gotten rid of hell and was onto whatever leaves after hell.

I wasn’t scared. I would be scared later after I extricated us from our predicament.

The TransAm’s lights were growing at a great rate and at the last second, and I do mean the last second, swerved around us. The Horizon was rocked again and this time I tromped on the gas—this is rather comical if you are at all familiar with my car—and we were off.

I looked in the rearview and again witnessed a beautiful Hollywood stunt turn, but I wasn’t going to wait around to see how close he would come this time.

Now, the beauty of mechanical separation is that the Trans Am still had to bleed off a great deal of forward motion in his picture perfect turn. This allowed the four exhausted squirrels that were powering my car to get far enough away to lose sight of the Trans Am.

At this point I was pushing beyond the Horizon’s performance envelope as I flew through red lights, stop signs, one family’s yard, several post boxes and I juked left and right through one neighborhood after another. I checked my six constantly to see if the TransAm was anywhere in sight. It wasn’t.

Sound returned and M was still screaming as I slowly worked my way back to his house, stopping one street away.

“What was that all about?” I asked M.

“No idea. Oh my God I think that guy was trying to kill us.” M replied.

Probably not, because he would’ve had to have done serious harm to himself, but……….

3.

For years I thought this was an isolated, interesting, random event, but like most things it wasn’t.

While I knew M at the post office his brother had been in prison on drug charges and I would find out later through another friend that M would also go to prison on drug charges. In fact nearly the entire House Post Office would go down on drug and money laundering charges ten years after I left.

I have little doubt that M knew who was in that TransAm and we’re probably lucky we never came face-to-face with whoever was in that car.

So kids, remember, just say no and, if you can, get a faster car.

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