Thursday, May 13, 2004

Rudy Jones 4: The MMRU

Back in the early 90's, my boss became so obsessed with "production" that he bought a car to follow us around and make sure we weren't fucking off. The car was a 68 Ford LTD, a huge maroon boat that was actually really nice for being as old as it was. He had the windows tinted, just to make sure we wouldn't see him, and drove it exactly once.

The problem with spying on your employees is that you can't tell any of them you're doing it--in this case, he showed the car to one of our mechanics to see if it was worth buying. About 2 days later, everyone knew about this car, and since it wasn't exactly inconspicuous (being both large and purple), it failed miserably to catch us doing anything heinous like sitting down and drinking a cup of water.

The only other use it had for our company was when La Migra came to town. Once we heard from crews that the saw the green vans, we'd send out the MMRU to pick up the ones we knew were illegally here.

[MMRU stands for Mobile Mexican Rescue Unit, incidentally]

But INS doesn't come around much, and the car sort of sat and collected dust and got in the way. It did this for a couple of years, until Rudy's car rattled its last and he worked out a deal to buy the MMRU for something like $700, payable in $50 weekly installments. This was about $10 too much, since Rudy was a cash-only type of guy (for reasons, again, that I'll get into later), and he just couldn't seem to part with two twenties and a ten. Anyway, that's how Rudy came to move into the LTD.

The car was nearly wide enough for me to lie down completely in the seat. And it was a nice car--I'd considered buying it, but each time I drove it, something went wrong, either in my love life or with the car itself. I'm not a big believer in fate, or bad luck, or any of that, but I am a big believer in keeping my life simple and hassle free, so I opted out of the contract. But it was a nice car. Even to live in, it was a nice car.

The first thing Rudy did was install his inverter, and he drilled a hole in the firewall to get the extension cord into the cab. The second was bolting a powerstrip to the other side of the firewall, and plugging all his computer shit into it. Eventually he bolted the monitor to the transmission hump, and actually zip tied the CPU underneath the dashboard. The printer stayed in the back seat, since Rudy generally slept in the front seat.

All in all, it was a hell of a setup. If you're going to be homeless, get yourself a big car. The gas mileage obviously sucks, but they're hella comfortable.

Then, one day, I noticed a rectangle of window tint cut out of the back window.

I've found that Rudy was like a little kid: if he has something he wants to show you, he'll practically hop from foot to foot until you ask him what it is. I let him simmer for a couple of days, and then asked him what he had going on in the back seat. He got the patented Rudy Grin on his face, and hustled me out to the vehicle to have a look. You might have guessed: Rudy was going solar.

But he knew he didn't have enough room to power his computer with solar panels, so he was trying to improve the gas mileage of his car by hooking the panel to his alternator. He felt like this would ease the load on the engine w/r/t how hard it worked to power the alternator, since (obviously) the alternator would be receiving supplemental electricity from the solar panel in the back seat.

Now, as far as I know, this might actually have some merit to it. I'm not the mechanical one of my family, for sure. But I'm pretty sure the motor doesn't run just to supply electricity to the alternator, even if you're just parked and trying to play X Wing Commander or something.

The MMRU actually drove from Oklahoma to Houston (where he let off his girlfriend, who's yet another story) to Los Angeles (where he did some surfing), and then back to Oklahoma, where he was forced to sell it by his own growling belly. I'm quite positive it's still around the city somewhere, although the new owner probably can't drive it because of the baked in smell of Rudy Jones, Esquire.


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