Tuesday, August 05, 2008

car talk

Throughout my driving career, I've had a number of pieces of automotive machinery. They've all ended with a certain amount of doom.

  • Car one was a 1982 (?) Chevy Impala...well, not really mine but my parents's vehicle. The coolest thing about it was the air conditioner was labeled either A/C or (teehee) MAXCON...which always made me feel like I was working in some underground bunker for the government. This was also the car I killed the fastest, in the silliest way. While driving to a friend's house, I somehow didn't see a pickup truck...carrying a horse trailer. The redneck drivers (I don't stereotype...I met them, and they certainly fit the bill) only said to me "Boy, you almost bought yourself a thoroughbred." Then they hired the city's biggest sleazeball ambulance chaser lawyer and tried to sue me...which would be depressing if it wasn't so funny...how much can you really get from a broke teenager? The net result of this was that the car was 2 feet shorter in the front, and I was looking for new wheels.
  • Car two was my first beater, a 1973 Plymouth Valiant with a radio that ran off vacuum tubes. It was cool...big, powerful, and fast as all hell. Unfortunately, it didn't take me long to kill this one either. I was driving to another friend's house (a pattern I quickly noticed...which is why I no longer have friends), and I must've went to adjust the radio or something and missed a red light. A brand new Monte Carlo SS was my target this time, and it hit me directly behind the driver's door, pushing the metal between the front and back doors in two feet, causing the roof to dome. It also broke my rib, which sent me to the hospital. While there, I had a 97 year old woman next to me in the emergency room who specialized in whining ("I want to go home. Why won't anyone let me go home?"...for two whole hours) and a doctor who, upon hearing I thought I had a broke rib, pushed down on it with all his might ("Does this hurt?" "AAAAAAHHHHGGG!"), and gave me a prescription for ten whole painkillers...enough to last almost a week! Yeah, a rib will really heal in that amount of time. Compound this with me getting back to work after two weeks and getting fired a week after that, and my memories are not good.
  • Car three should've bypassed me and went straight to the compactor. It was a '73 Duster. The litany: the roof was rusted out under the vinyl roof; the driver's side door didn't open from the outside; the passenger door didn't open from the inside; the foam in the driver's seat had disintegrated, so I had to stuff an old raincoat down there to keep from giving myself a spring enema. I went on a vacation once, and my Dad went to start my car after a few day's rain. He found two inches of water in the car and had to drill holes in the floorboard to drain it. After that, the car had a permanent mold ecosystem that bleach would not kill. I actually outlasted this one, gave it to my brother after he had an accident, and it threw a rod on him after a week. A fitting end to a car that sucked so bad and was so nasty, it can single-handedly be blamed for three years where I could not get a date...any woman who would get into that piece was not someone I wanted to be with.
  • Car four was a red 87 Honda Prelude. Hondas will last forever if you take care of them. The previous owner didn't know this, so he beat it to hell and back. The transmission started slipping on me about two weeks after I bought it. It did last for a few years, and the whole time, I felt like I was driving a clown car...to test this, I actually drove seven people to Gainesville for a concert. This car, although it didn't hold rainwater like the Duster, also had an unstoppable mold problem. Finally, the transmission died on me, and we were just able to drive it to the junkyard.
  • Car five is an 1987 Oldsmobile that I got from my parents...thus, it was the nicest car I'd ever had, as it was the first one that ever had been taken care of. It was also the first car I ever had where the a/c actually worked, too, which was a nice luxury in Florida. The engine died almost immediately (the timing chain broke), but my parents paid for a new one since it was one month from my purchase date. Eventually, though, the car started to wear down. I bumped the front on a pole while exiting a tight parking garage, and then I had a car pull out in front of me on an iced-over parking lot. Eventually, the a/c quit working. The transmission died, and I got it replaced with a junkyard unit. Then, when I was working at the zoo (see the first blog posts), the driver's window also quit working. The driver's back door quit opening about the same time. My last repair was to get the rusted-out brake lines totally replaced, after a fun drive to work where the pedal sunk to the floor.

I would like to say that the transition from car to car signaled some great motion in my life, but the only real conclusion I can have is that I've left an awful lot of damage in my driving wake. The only thing that makes me feel better about this is that since all the cars were drastically used by the time I got them, I haven't really made much of a carbon footprint.

Anyway, my parental units called me this week to tell me that they were getting a new car, and would I like their old one? As it's much nicer than the Olds's current state, I heartedly agreed. In a month or so, I will fly down to Florida to pick up a 1997 Buick Riviera. It's pretty swanky...my parents usually buy the demonstrator models, so they have every accessory you can imagine (including five way sun visors and climate control, with separate passenger controls). I will also pass the Olds onto a carless friend, so there are winners all around.

I am thankful to get reliable wheels again...the Olds is valiant, but I'm getting old and wimpy enough to really want air conditioner. Plus, the car is in really good shape, so I hope to get at least eight years out of it before I kill it in some manner. And I'm hoping its the last car I ever own that's fueled by petroleum. The next one should run on either hydrogen, electricity, fryer oil, or live puppies.

Will my Oldsmobile look at me badly? Will it know that I'm giving up on it? Will it sulk? I'd ask it, but typically, it's in the shop...this should be its first clue that it's going bye-bye.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I also hold out a dream that the next car I purchase with my money (my parents bought my first car super cheap and I've had 2 hand-me downs since) will be a hybrid car. Maybe when I get a full-time secure job? M. & I talked about what we'd do if we won millions of dollars. I'd get a hybrid for sure.