Bye, Friend

Driving home from work yesterday, I passed a granny blue Hyundai Sonata on the back of a tow truck. I looked into the cab of the truck and saw the driver bouncing happily along, knowing he was making money off of that tow, and the passenger looking miserable.  I raised my fist in solidarity as a nod to the passenger and she looked over at me and sighed.

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My old friend, at home on the back of a tow truck

That raised fist would have been better accepted, I think, had I been in my own granny blue Hyundai Sonata, but I wasn’t. I was in my sporty new Toyota Rav4, boring silver in color like 90% of American SUVs.  It runs like a dream, though, and the money I would have spent over the next ten years fixing dumb stuff like the catalytic convertor, the starter (three times), the alternator (twice), the compressor, the blower motor, the bushings, the brakes (countless), etc. I spent in advance to purchase a more mechanically sound vehicle.  I love it.  I’d love it better if I could find it more easily in the Target parking lot amongst the sea of other small silver SUVs, but I do love it.

A week after Woney and I got back from Norway, where we spent all our money, the dashboard in my car lit up like Las Vegas. Every bell and whistle sounded and every light flashed and every buck a bronco could give you kicked off in the engine of my car.  It was humiliating.  I turned the ignition and rode that fair ride all the way to 5th Gear Automotive where Austin said, “Seriously, Jimmie, it is past time.”  Then he sighed and said, “Let me see what I can do.”

Turns out it was one of three things, all of them expensive, and Austin fixed one in the hopes it was the right one. It was, but only for a day, and then I drove my bucking fair ride back home and to work again.  There was no point in spending another $1000 to fix something that was just going to break again anyway and I was tired of meeting tow truck drivers.  Plus every penny I had managed to put into a savings account over the last five years was withdrawn to pay for another fix for that car.

Over the next few days I loaded up with Daisy in her nice, clean, mechanically sound vehicle and we test drove every single affordable SUV on the lot over at CarMax in Rivergate. William was my sales guy, and bless his heart, he was so patient. “Do you even know what you want,” he asked.  Nope, no I did not. I was supposed to wait another year before buying.  I had another year before I would be ready.

Here’s what I could tell William.

  • I wanted leg room
  • I wanted something that was mechanically sound
  • I wanted to be able to make out with my theoretical new boyfriend in the back seat
  • I did not want silver
  • It could not smell like dog or smoke

“That’s not a lot to go on,” he said.

Daisy said, “You don’t even have a boyfriend.”

“I know,” I said to both of them, “whatcha got?”

I drove a Mazda CX-3, a Honda CRV, a Honda HR-V, a Nissan Rogue, a Nissan Murano, and a Toyota Rav4. William kept pushing for a Ford but I wasn’t having it.  Some of them drove like bobsleds and some of them drove like marshmallows, and I realized that I cannot really afford a marshmallow drive which is a shame.  I liked those. I also drove SUVs that smelled like wet dog and smoke, SUVs that were painted silver, and SUVs that were too small to make out with anyone in any backseat.  To test that particular theory, I made William, who was no small chicken himself, get in the back seat with me and have a conversation.

He laughed the first time I asked him to do it. “I’m serious,” I said, and when he looked over at Daisy with his eyebrows raised, she simply nodded at him. He was getting no support from her. In he clambered and in I clambered and Daisy stood guard in the parking lot until I was satisfied we had ample room. Then Daisy clambered into the back seat while William and I took our regular spots and off we’d drive.

Madre came up for the last round of test driving wherein William presented me with a silver Rav4. “I don’t want silver,” I said, and William opened his mouth to let forth a torrent of expletives.  No, I’m kidding.  William had the patience of Job. Actually, I forgot to weave this in, but when driving any of the cars across the lot, William and I had to switch places so that he was the driver on their property.  He never put his seat belt on and the vehicle would ding all the way across the lot and out the gate.  It drove me nuts.  I’d say, “put on your seat belt” and he’d ask, “oh, is it dinging” and I’d roll my eyes and huff, “Yes!”

“Jimmie,” he’d say, “I’m a man. I can tune out any noise.  I can drive this thing from here to Arkansas with no seat belt and never once hear that ding.” I am not that patient.

Anyway, I said, “I don’t want silver” and William said, “We can keep looking.” He meant it.  He was in this with me.  I looked over at my granny blue Hyundai Sonata and remembered how it bucked and rattled and made a disgrace of me and a nuisance of itself, and then I signed the paperwork on my new silver Rav4 while Madre wandered around looking at all the cars I had driven over the last few days.

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My new friend, dirty and mechanically sound

The Sonata now belongs to Pooh who will be 16 soon enough and can use a car. I know you feel some horror upon reading that, but look.  Giving a 16-year-old a nice car is the worst thing you can do.  They get a sense of entitlement and snooty pride which having a car that breaks all the time will destroy.  Standing on the side of the road waiting for your daddy to come get you builds character and makes you appreciate things later in life like silver Rav4s that run great and have plenty of room and don’t smell like dog.  I am slightly shamed by the fact that the door handles have all fallen off the Sonata now.  Only one left on the passenger side back seat door, and it’s likely hanging on by a thread.  Coach is looking into buying new ones but he can only find chrome or black ones, so Pooh is going to be rolling in style.  Builds character.

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I asked Pooh and Tigger the other day this question – if you could pick any car in the world for your first one, what would you choose? Tigger had some elaborate something or other that I cannot recall, but Pooh said, “the Sonata, the same one you gave me.”

I was aghast. “Why?”

“I don’t know,” she said, “but I really like it.”

That kid has character.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Felix
    May 10, 2018 @ 16:15:51

    Well, Jimmie, you gave the Sonata the best years of it’s life. And, I’m sure, the majority of your savings acct. to keep her on the road. You deserve this new Sporty Silver Rav4. Enjoy! BTW…miss you so much!

    Reply

  2. Susan Rhea
    May 10, 2018 @ 21:35:49

    Perhaps some of your good character came from your 1969 hand-me-down Karmann Ghia and your sister’s from her VW Bug, both vehicles manufactured before either of you were born as well has having standard shift ….. oh no, a CLUTCH…which you mastered brilliantly! Pooh is older than her new/used car and the gears are automatic, she will breeze through this driving thing. (Hopefully with caution and confidence) 🙂

    Reply

  3. theitalianhippie
    May 14, 2018 @ 17:04:51

    Enjoyed reading this!!!! I’m driving a 1999 Tahoe and I’m not ready to give it up.

    Reply

  4. Martie
    Jun 09, 2018 @ 09:55:27

    Well that might be one of my favorite stories yet! I’m a little smidge jealous of your non-dog, non-smoke smelling vehicle, but I sure do love my grey Toyota Sienna (you know I didn’t dream of driving a minivan when I was young, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!). Not that mine smells like dog, but it does sometimes smell like band-kid feet, basketball-kid sweat, and leftover McDonald’s. My favorite part of the story is the very end. My girls just never cease to amaze me! 🙂

    Reply

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