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Thursday, March 04, 2004
Blog's Salute to the Automobile - The Finale
I got the call a day later. The news? Not good. The van needed $1,800 worth of work. The voice on the other end read off a laundry list of problems. First off, the screeching was due to a leaking water pump. Droplets of H20 were falling on the fan belts, causing them to howl. This would cost $400 to fix. In addition, the front brakes were down to 10% ($300), the power streeing was leaking ($400), the engine needed new plugs ($450) and a tune-up ($150). Also: the nightmarish rattle in the passenger side door would cost a cool $85 to fix. At least the transmission was still in good shape.
My head spun. I did not have $1,800 to throw away on vehicle worth $3.82.
I told the voice I'd call him back.
Meanwhile, my heart swelled for the Corolla but I knew it would one day crush it like a water balloon. Like a fool, I fell in love anyway. Unlike the van, this car wasn't covered in mildew. The side door didn't have a woodpecker rattle. There was still paint on the roof and the speakers didn't cut out every five minutes. The Corolla also possessed an almost magical ability to injure British doctoral students.
I forgot about the van and tooled around town in my new race car. I sought out tight spots downtown, just to enjoy the new-found ease of parallel parking. I bounced from lane to lane and buzzed through traffic like a stunt man. The hills overlooking Lincoln High School became a haven for turn-hogging thrills. Together the Corolla and I were a heart and a fuel-efficient engine beating as one. Together we cried after a friend spilled Taco Bell grease all over the back seat. Together we laughed as other driver's shook their fists at our high-speed antics. This wasn't just tomfoolery, it was revenge for years of put-putting along in an ancient Toyota van.
But the rental fees were stacking up. A decision needed to be made. I had no money to buy a new car, even a new used car, yet I wasn't about to drop $1800 on my faithful, yet moldy steed. That weekend, a car dealership in Hillsboro was having a sale, with cars starting at "ONLY $50!!!". I thought about it and finally relented.
"How much to get the goddamn thing running again?"
"You're looking at $900 with the rental, sir."
"So be it, Jedi."
They took their time, blaming delayed shipments. When it was said and done, I dropped $930 on a vehicle that wasn't worth 1/10 of that. So much for Coachella.
On our final night together, the Corolla and I buzzed Barbur Boulevard going 95 MPH through 45 MPH zones. We hogged the turns one last time. 16 hours later, she was out of my life.
So now I'm $910 poorer and I'm still driving a $!@$! 1984 Toyota van with a leaking water pump. A better person might have put this cash towards a new vehicle. On the other hand, a better person can probably make monthly car payments. I now tool around town with a milk jug full of water. Once a day, the van needs to be fed its "bottle" or the engine will explode. Worse yet, the $%#$@#! side door rattles worse then before it was "fixed."
So ends this lil' tale of woe.