We bought a 14 year-old car last summer. It’s nothing exciting, more of what we call a “grocery-getter”. It’s a small car, a humble car. There is no worry, with this car, that you will be approached by someone pretending to like you just to get to your money.
That’s why we got it. We’re flying under the radar over here.
The mechanic described the engine as being in “great shape”. And so far, bless him, he’s been right.
The years have been good to this car, engine-wise.
You know what that means, don’t you?
That’s right. It’s disintegrating.
The driver’s side window, for instance, comes off its track if you roll it down more than three-quarters of the way. This is not, as you’d imagine, a problem in the winter. Interestingly enough, however, it was quite a problem this last summer, when we broke the switch that turned the heat off.
It was 94 degrees outside.
And we had the heater on.
It was the Summer of Talcum Powder.
I finally gave up on winding the window down and simply pretended that the car had air-conditioning. After a while, you don't even notice.
The safety belts have gotten in on the fun as well. The passenger-side restraint, for instance, was seemingly designed to pull out only far enough to securely strap in someone weighing under 80 pounds. If you jiggle it properly, however, and if you can really suck in your gut, it eventually releases enough to be used.
Funny how often the ability to suck in your gut is part of the answer.
Then there was the damage done this past fall when the four-door, lane-wide Cadillac next to me in traffic slid off its axle and destroyed the right-side headlight and turn signal.
The three feet of plowed snow up against the garages in the alley, having been rained on, frozen, and then melted down to the leaden consistency of an embassy’s barricades has evidently acquired a cruel intelligence and has begun randomly attacking passing cars.
At least that’s how Willie describes it.
He has no idea how both sides of the bumper have been shattered. He does recall, though, sliding “softly”, he says, into a glacier after being forced in that direction by the deeply grooved ruts in the alley.
The bumper’s right side, made of only the highest quality plastic available, was ruined. He shimmed the headlight in with two pieces of wood.
Two weeks later, the left side suffered a similar fate; and its headlight was shimmed by use of three pieces of wood and a shoelace.
“Really?” I said. “What, are we out of duct tape?”
“I have no idea when the left side got wrecked! Just all of a sudden I’m walking out to my car and there it is!”
“So you think maybe it happened in a parking lot?”
“Well, noooo,” he drawls. “I did find the pieces in the alley when I took the garbage out…”
Ah ha! So he does have an idea how it happened!
Well, it is a 14-year-old car. Nothing lasts forever.
And she still runs like a top.
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