"Imagine No Possessions"
Saturday, November 05, 2016
Ah, in America, we love our cars. I bet if I asked you to tell me about your first car (and I am, so feel free to post your story below), it would read like puppy love. Mine does...
I bought it for $500 in 2008. I was 25. I hadn't driven in probably at least 6, possibly 7, years. It was a 1997 Plymouth Neon. The A/C never worked, and the tape deck had a tape stuck in it (not that it mattered, because I owned precisely zero tapes in 2008). It was just convenient to buy and too good a deal to pass up. If it could last one to two years, that would be perfect.
As the years passed, I grew to really love that car, because it was loyal and steady. As the roof rusted, the dashboard broke, the sun visor rattled, the rear passenger lock stopped working, and the rubber bits along the doors fell off, I felt simultaneous embarrassment and pride. Yes, the Neon was a total hooptie, but it was MY hooptie, that I'd gotten a good deal on eight years ago. It moved with me to Indiana and back and had even been broken into. I have a lot of memories with the Neon!
Last night, my husband called me. He was driving the Neon out of the underground garage at his office, and it just died, right there. I went to go pick him up and find a towing company willing to tow a car from an underground garage with 6'4" clearance (found one with a driver willing to help us push the car out of the garage for the tow--we tipped him). Our mechanic told us this morning that the fuel pump needs replacing. Not worth it. The next call was to the salvage yard for them to pick it up from the mechanic. At least the Neon didn't suffer.
I am SO SAD! I went to the mechanic before the tow driver came and said a tearful goodbye. I feel a bit silly about it. My sister texted her condolences, "Oh, man." Feigning possession of enlightened wisdom and a stiff upper lip, I texted back, "It's okay. It had a long life. Except it didn't, because it is a car."
It's a CAR! It's not loyal nor steady, can't suffer, and did not live at all. But isn't it funny the attachments we have and meanings we give to our things? Cars, especially, I think, because we spend so much time with them, and they carry us around...they become like extensions of us. Little Neon was like Little Sammy, my blind, deaf, geriatric Chihuahua--No one else would ever want this car, but I took it, and it rewarded me in spades. It represented my ability to see potential where others don't, to appreciate a good value, simplicity, and frugality, to reject the throwaway culture I live in.
But really. It's just a car.