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Servicing a Motorola Radio


Back in the mid 1980s, one of our customers needed to have a mobile radio repaired.  The company was a large security outfit that provided security guards for large corporate operations including manufacturing plants.  They had a conventional repeater system on the UHF band on a shared frequency which was typical of most radio systems in those days.  Today, they had a radio that was not operating correctly, so I was dispatched to perform the repair on the radio.

Their offices were located in Baldwin Park, so I was dispatched to fix the radio.  When I arrived, I parked my service van in the parking lot of their building which was behind the building from the main street.  As I parked my van, my back was bothering me like I needed to get a chiropractic adjustment, but I had been too busy running service calls for the past several days and did not have time to get to my doctor to get an adjustment to relieve the pressure.  Hopefully, I would have time in the next few days to get there as I knew that if I did not get it adjusted, that I would suffer in even more pain.

I proceeded to leave the parking lot and go inside the building to their offices.  I found the person with the radio trouble and asked him for the car keys and to direct me to the correct vehicle.  He followed me down to the parking lot, pointed out the vehicle which was parked next to my van and then returned to his office.  I opened up my service van, ran an extension cord to power my test bench and looked at the radio under the dash of the front seat.  The radio was a Motorola Motrac, an older radio in those days that has a solid state receiver, but the transmitter had a tube in the power amplifier of the transmitter and a transistorized power supply to generate the high voltage to run the tube.  The radio was a trunk mount radio meaning that the main radio unit was located in the trunk of the vehicle and the unit under the dash was called the “control head” which was essentially a long speaker and microphone connection to the radio along with on-off switch for the radio, on light and transmit light.  All of the complicated circuitry was located in the trunk of the vehicle.

I checked out the control head and it appeared to be operating correctly and the wires were connected properly.  So I opened the trunk and saw that the Motorola Motrac was mounted near the rear of the trunk compartment just behind the back seat.  The radio was locked in place with a key lock that was typical of the Motorola radios.  Fortunately, I had a Motorola 2135 key which unlocked almost all Motorola mobile radios.  I grabbed my keys and leaned over to insert the 2135 key at which time I noticed that my back was giving me more trouble than before and hurting while bending, so I supported my upper body with my right arm against the rear of the trunk opening.  This provided considerable relief to the strain on my back, so I turned the key lock and proceeded to pull on the handle of the radio to remove it from the tray.  Motrac radios weigh about 30-40 pounds and the radio was “frozen” in the tray, so I had to pull with considerable force to get the radio to release from the tray.  As I pulled on the radio, I felt and heard a “snap” in my back as I winced in pain and collapsed on the ground.

There I lay on the ground unable to stand up.  I was in agony with the most intense pain that I had ever felt.  It seemed like someone had taken a red hot poker the shoved it up the center of my spine.  I was screaming at the top of my lungs, but to no avail.  The question arises as to whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound if no one is around to hear it?  I felt like the fallen tree as I was in the most intense pain of my life.  I laid there on the ground for at least 15 minutes without anyone responding to my screams, so I felt that I had to try to get back to my vehicle by myself.  I dragged my almost dead body inch by inch from the back of the car about 10 feet to the open side sliding door of my van.  A trip that I should have been able to make in about 3-5 seconds now seemed like an eternity.  It easily took me another 15 minutes to slither on the ground the 10 feet to the door of the van, but now what?  The floor of the van was about 20 inches above the ground, but it might as well been 2 miles above the ground.  I contemplated how to get myself into the van and every way I tried resulted in massive quantities of pain shooting through my back.  The only way to get out of this was to get into the van and use the radio to call for help unless someone happened to enter the parking area which had not happened for the last 30 minutes and may not happen for 2-3 more hours depending upon lunch schedules.

I continued to try one way after another to get into the van.  Each way caused excruciating pain, but got me one step closer to my goal of getting into the van.  It took me another 15 minutes to figure out how to get into the van, lying on the floor in the center of the van after succeeding in getting inside.  Now was another challenge to reach the microphone for the radio which was mounted on the ceiling of the van.  I tried to reach the microphone which was clipped to the side of the radio, but my arms were not long enough to reach the microphone.  So I had to slither further into the van between the seats, but I still could not reach the microphone.  Now I had to try to prop myself up between the seats and the engine cover to be able to reach the microphone, but that caused me to almost pass out from the pain.  Eventually, I was able to reach the microphone well enough to knock it off the clip and watch it fall in front of me.

I called into the shop with an emergency call.  I told them to get the customer to send someone out to the parking lot to assist me in getting into the driver’s seat, help me pack up my tools and close up the van so that I could drive it to my chiropractor’s office which was a 30 minute drive to the West Los Angeles area.  This took about 30 minutes to get me up into the drivers seat and get me ready to drive away to the doctor.  The drive to the doctor was the longest drive in my life.  I was in terrible pain while driving and several times during the drive I felt that I would need to pull over to the side of the freeway and call for an ambulance.  It was impossible to get comfortable and get out of pain.  I could wiggle around in the seat and minimize the pain for a few seconds at a time, then return to the excruciating pain.  I almost gave up, but I was stubborn and refused to do so.  Eventually, I arrived in the West Los Angeles area, exited the freeway and drove to the chiropractor’s office about a half mile from the freeway exit.  It was a miracle that there was a parking spot directly in front of the doctor’s office which rarely if ever occurred.

I parked the van and debated whether I should have the office call the doctor’s office to render me assistance, but I foolishly decided to be brave and attempt getting out of the van and into the doctor’s office by myself.  Once I got out of the van, I could not reach the microphone of the radio, so I was helpless to call for the cavalry.  I slowly slid off the side of my driver’s seat to the ground.  I knew if I moved faster than a snails pace, I would pass out from the pain in the middle of the street and be unable to get up.  I slithered off the seat talking about 5 minutes to eventually touch the ground with the tip of my toes and slowly lowering myself onto my feet.  I managed to close the driver’s door, lock the door and slowly started the trek to reach the other side of the van and step up onto the curb.  I thought I was about to climb Mt Everest when you considered how much effort it took to perform such a simple task.  However, now that I was on the sidewalk, I needed to travel another 10 feet to get to the building.  It might as well be 500 miles since I had no clue how I was going to be able to survive getting across the sidewalk to the building.  I considered opening the van and trying to reach the radio microphone to call for help, but stupidly I decided to try it myself.  I was able to find a position where my back was only a 9 instead of a 10 on the pain scale, so I managed to move an inch at a time until I was able to grab the building.  This took every ounce of strength that I had in me, but now I had one more problem to overcome.  I still had to move another 15 feet to the front door and get the front door open.

As I held onto the front of the building with my bare hands clawing into the building wall, I slowly inched my way to the front door of the building.  It is amazing that on a busy street, no one walked by me from the time that I arrived to this time when I was searching for the solution as to how to get to the front door and open it.  I kept inching my way to the door taking another 10 minutes to move the 15 feet.  When I arrived at the front door, I did not have the strength to open it, so I knocked on the door.  No answer.  I continued to knock on the door for at least 10 minutes, but to no avail.  No one answered the door, nor did any enter or leave the door.  Finally in a burst of all the strength that I had left, I managed to tear open the door and yell for help over and over again until one of the nurses finally heard my cries.  She came out to see who was making the ruckus and found me holding onto the building to keep from collapsing on the ground.  She immediately got two others to help me into the building and into a treatment room.

The doctor worked on me on and off for the next 5 hours, giving me one treatment after another.  I cried out in more pain that I have ever felt in my entire life before this time or ever since.  The adjustments from the chiropractor hurt so badly that I told him to let me lay there and die because I could not take any more pain.  “The cure is going to kill me anyway, so let me die”, I proclaimed after several of his adjustments to alleviate the pain, but he kept going with his treatments.  After 5 hours of being in his office, I was in horrible shape which was fantastic compared to where I was when I arrived at his office.

I spent the next two weeks in bed and getting treatments from the chiropractor, hardly able to move a muscle without pain shooting up my spine wondering whether I would be able to walk normally again.  That was over 35 years ago and I am still here.

I just went there to repair a mobile radio in a passenger car……………….

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