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Jimmy’s Jeep

In order to prepare for the 1992 World Championships in New Zealand, I decided to take a three-week sabbatical from chilly Boulder, CO to the confines of Tucson, AZ. I stayed with Jim Stites and Rane Smith, both are triathletes and both work at the University of Arizona swimming pool. My dilemma involved having no car and the Uof A pool being 15 miles away from Jim’s house. In my past visits to Tucson, my bike sufficed as my major mode of transportation; however, with fewer daylight hours during this time of year, I was stranded when there was darkness and I couldn’t go to Master’s swim workouts at the University.

Jimmy Riccitello, pro triathlete and long time residence of Tucson, came to my rescue when I told him my situation. He has a car I can use while I’m here. I told him I didn’t want to impose and he said “heck no, I’ve got my moped which gets me everywhere I want to go and Traci (his wife) has her car if I need it”. He insisted, so I took him up on his offer. The next morning, after we did a track workout, we ran back to his house and there it was, a 1987 Suzuki Samurai. Its maroon color had faded to a rusty hazelnut color and the plastic window coverings (you could take the top off) were cracked and yellowed with gaping holes due to the intense heat of the desert sun. The rear flap to the back had been torn off. Apparently, Jimmy had succumbed to the fact that his jeep was not a secure place to keep valuables. After all, the radio was stolen out of it about two years ago and there wasn’t much left to take, unless you liked Jimmy’s personal belongings (we will get to that in a moment).

Again, I asked Traci if I was imposing. Without hesitation she said, “no way, I wouldn’t be caught dead in that car. Have you looked in it?”

I replied, “No, how bad can it be?”

A slight smile came across her face. “We’ll get along fine without it,” she said.

Jimmy gave me the key and said, “You might want to check the oil.....and the air in the tires.”

I opened the door and the first thing I thought to my self was, yes, this fits Jimmy’s character to a T. Some of the black door covering on the driver’s side had come lose and was hanging below the door. Jimmy grabbed a knife and began cutting it all off. “I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time.”

I hopped in the Suzuki and I couldn’t stand the mess so I headed directly for a car wash where I could vacuum this atrocity. My anal tendencies were coming out. Realizing the unique content in this heap of metal, I decided to make a list of what had accumulated over the year (years) in his jeep. Hence, the following:

I will work from the front of the car backwards.

* Speedometer unreadable due to an excessive accumulation of dust.

* Taco Bell wrappers (two soft tacos and two bean burritos) and cups under both seats.

* Dried half eaten banana and peel - all black.

* Eeegees’ bags, apparently Jimmy likes to eat and drive at the same time.

* 6 Circle K coffee cups.

* Spearmint gum wrappers strewn about.

* Roll of toilet paper. I’m sure this is solely used as cheap Kleenex.

* You can’t notice traffic approaching from behind, not because there is no back window, but because the rearview mirror is caked with scum.

* Sunflower seeds (used and unused) scattered throughout the jeep.

Moving behind the front seats:

* Today section of newspaper dated December 21, 1993.

* 6 popsicle sticks.

* 5 Skoal dip cans..(Jimmy has since quit)

* Arizona vehicle registration stuck in a crevice beneath back seat.

* 6 empty Gatorade bottles.

* 3 dip glasses (I won’t describe the interiors, but let’s just say they need to be washed, one of which says “I’d rather be cycling!”

* San Francisco baseball cap. Baseball, what’s that sport?

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