Friday, June 13, 2014


My car is currently in the shop for repairs. There's nothing like having no car to remind you of how much we take that sort of mobility for granted.

I appreciate having a vehicle of my own more than most, I imagine, simply because I get motion sickness. I also really like being in control, though--a personality trait I try to keep in check to varying degrees of success. I've had access to cars since I first got my driver's license, almost immediately after turning 16.

I don't consider myself a car guy--I don't work on them, I don't have any brand loyalty, I have no interest in modifying my car, etc--but I believe each of my vehicles, past and present, have factored into my identity.

My first car was passed on to me by my mom, and it was a surprisingly solid vehicle: a fairly new Mercury Cougar, which is a sort of large, heavy sedan. It was a great first car, and it gave me a preference for reliable, stable-feeling sedans.

More than anything, the car gave me an identity as "the guy with a car." I immediately started driving to school, which gave me a bit of income since I could drive other kids to school and collect "gas money." I honestly don't remember if that money actually covered my gas needs or not, though.

One of the first things I did, though, unfortunately, was back into my sister's car one morning on the way to school. That mistake meant that I needed to get a job to start paying her back for the repairs, so soon my car was taking me to and from my first job.

I admit I was a bit of a reckless driver early on, as long as I felt like I was the only person on the road. One day, while I was driving home from work along a winding road, going just a little too fast and pondering a story idea, I came up to a curve too fast. Long story short, my car slammed sideways into a tree, and that was the end of my first car.

I have a feeling that if I had taken better care of that car, I might still be driving it now. Sadly, that was not the case. Its powerful body protected me from harm, but it couldn't protect itself from me.

My next vehicle was a surprise purchase, made using the insurance money from the previous car: a Chevy S10 truck, which is a fairly small vehicle that seats two people comfortably. It was a standard transmission, which meant that I needed to learn a new trick to be able to drive it at all.

At first, it was a great new vehicle: it had a CD player, everything worked right, and I could carry more junk if needed.

Over time, though, the truck started falling apart bit by bit. The A/C broke, as did the windshield wipers. The windows required a manual crank to open and close them--important since there was no A/C--but the handle for the driver's side window snapped in two, making rolling the windows up and down considerably more difficult. Also, the rear-view mirror fell off, and spend many months just dangling from a wire, banging back and forth and hitting the windshield often. This problem was compounded by the fact that the passenger-side mirror was also cracked, giving me effectively 1.5 out of 3 possible rear-view mirrors.

The biggest problem, though, was when the fuel gauge stopped working. I must have run out of gas close to ten times while driving that truck. It got to the point where I started keeping a 1-gallon tank of gas in the back of the truck for the inevitable emergency, after several instances in which I ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere and had to walk a few miles to reach a gas station.

I'll say this, though: driving a death trap is an adventure.

The truck met its end through no fault of my own. I was working at a Gamestop for the holidays, and was surprised when a couple of firemen came into the store looking for the owner of a brown truck. As it turns out, a car in the parking lot caught fire, and the flames scorched my truck and destroyed my window.

Luckily, the flames never reached my spare gas tank.

Anyway, the truck was totaled, and there was nothing I could do about it. I wasn't terribly upset, though, since that freak accident led me to my current car.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know you when you had your first car, but I certainly remember that truck. After the saga of your truck breaking down piece by piece, it was pretty awesome that it went out in a blaze of glory.