Monday, August 3, 2009

Clunkers for Cash? Not Me

I think there are two kinds of people in the world: those for whom a car is a work of art, to be studied, admired, and coveted. And those for whom an automobile is a way of getting from one place to another. Ours is a mixed marriage. The hubby grabs the automotive section of the paper first. Maybe even before sports. Me? I want to turn the key and go. What the car looks like is irrelevant. Reliable is all I ask.

Which is why my very favorite automobile is now 14 years old. We’ve jerry-rigged the air-conditioning. It doesn’t have a CD player. There are no heated seats. I’m not sure how many times the odometer has turned over, but I don’t care because this old car just keeps chugging along. Since I'm not interested in a new model, the clunkers for cash government program doesn't work for me. My husband says this antique of ours is no longer fit for long trips, but where am I going?

Some folks love the smell of a new car. Me? I love the fact that I can get into my car and remember the picnics held in those seats on days when it rained and we couldn’t stand being in the house another second. I smile when I think about the long talks I had with each of my kids as we barreled down the highway (and why do sex questions with teens always pop up when you’re going 60 miles an hour in heavy traffic?). I cringe slightly at some of the more heated arguments my husband and I had in the car – but sometimes it was the only place we could be alone and figure out a solution to a problem without the intrusion of children or dog. I relax when I’m in that car, recalling the naps taken during long drives to visit relatives in far-away states.

Son number two has been talking about needing a station car – and hinting, none too subtly, that my old clunker would nicely serve that purpose. He’s probably right. It would be an easy retirement for my faithful motorized servant. But I’m tempted to give him one of our newer cars (new being a relative term since we own no car less than five years old). They don’t have the memories or the old car smell.

For me, getting into my old car, with all the memories, is like Cinderella getting into the pumpkin. With a bibbity-boppity-boo, or a more mundane turn of the key, the transformation is complete. Both become gilded carriages – and we’ll both get to the ball (or supermarket) on time. But at least my pumpkin won’t break down at the stroke of midnight!

What's your car IQ?

Evelyn David

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