When I was in high school, my dad decided I needed a vehicle. I was shocked. My parents are very practical people. If we didn’t absolutely need it — as in there was no possible way a broken whatever could be made to work — we didn’t get a new one. My mom and I had been sharing a car, but with me having a zero hour class before school and track or cross country practice after school, either Mom had to run me to school and pick me up or she was stranded without a car for the day.
My mother even asked me what color I wanted. Generally her answer for that question was that I would be happy with whatever color I got.
So when my dad and I went to the car dealership and there was a powder-blue, ugly something with the rear passenger window replaced with a piece of plastic and duct-tape, I convinced myself to be happy with that.
However, the dealer and my dad were friends and he steered us to a Chrysler LeBaron. It was a nice gray, no rust, low miles, and clean, a car dealer’s dream. Dad looked it over. My uncle, a mechanic, checked it over and gave us the thumbs’ up.
I got a car.
A year later the trouble started. I took it in to get the brake pads replaced and the whole brake system fell apart in the mechanic’s hands. And by the way, the radiator had problems too. The driver-side windshield wiper would fly off the window when they were on high, especially when driving on the highway. They weren’t an easy fix because the car was a sporty edition, so replacement parts–like windshield wipers–were rare.
Eventually we got all these repairs squared away… which was when the alternator started to misbehave. We replaced it and the battery too, you know for kicks. So the next time I take a long trip, my windshield wipers, radio, and headlights slowly die. Yep, the replacement alternator was bad. I managed to limp the car to my parents’ church where my uncle followed me to the garage and took me home. Then my parents brought me back to college.
The crab behaved for a while after that.
Then I was about twenty miles from home (and on the highway) and suddenly the car had no power. I inched it over to the shoulder and stopped. I looked under the hood. I have no idea why. Unless there was an arrow pointing to the problem, I would have no idea what was wrong. I got back in and drove, scratched that, limped, it to a gas station — the only one for miles. Three people looked at it there and gave three different things wrong with it. All we knew was that there was no oil in the engine. I tried calling home from the pay phone, but no one answered. (ah, the time before cellphones) My only option was to take the back roads to my uncle’s garage. I turned on the hazards and limped the twenty miles. I barely dared to stop at intersections because I was afraid the car wouldn’t go again. Eventually I made it there, although it probably would have been faster to push the car myself. Once I arrived, he wasn’t there. I walked to my grandmother’s a half mile away. My aunt was there and drove me home.
Eventually my uncle figured out that the head gasket had blown. Oof.
I got the car back around Thanksgiving. When I was coming home from college for Christmas break, it was snowing so hard I missed my exit. I took the next one which required a left hand turn in a strange place. In the white out conditions, I was rear-ended while waiting for oncoming traffic to clear. Thankfully, the delivery van I was waiting for didn’t hit me.
Also thankfully, the car was totalled. Good riddance.
And this is why I married a car guy.