Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Car Talk: the Crunchy Version

I got my driver's license at 17, and my first car at 35. Yep, 35. I was able to do this due to a combination of living in mostly urban environments, taking public transportation, carpooling/car-mooching when possible/necessary, and, when it finally came around (and not a moment too soon), joining a car-sharing service for transportation by the hour (of course, the problem with car sharing is that it leads to "Domino's Syndrome" whereby one drives like a loon b/c it's 59 minutes into one's last reserved hour, and the parking space is still one traffic-light-infested mile away. And it's raining, so one can just imagine the next person waiting for the car getting sopping wet b/c, ehem, "one" didn't get the car back in time.....Theoretically speaking, of course).

So we moved to the 'burbs and bought a minivan. All in one year. It's amazing my sense of self-worth was able to remain whole. But, truly, I love my minivan. It's a 1997 Chevrolet Venture. However, much as I love "Betsy", she's got over 90,000 miles on her now, and we have to rent a minivan every time we go past our state border. This is mostly due to my parents being concerned about us taking an 11 y/o car on long trips, not any huge defect Betsy has (or, is showing that she has). Since I freely admit that I know just about as much about cars as you might expect from someone who didn't bother to own one until middle-age, I defer to my parents' judgment here.

Sure, Betsy's got some minor issues, who of us doesn't? For Betsy, this list includes:

--a driver's side mirror held on with electrical tape b/c to fix it they will have to order an entirely new arm thingy that holds the mirror. Ka-CHING. Even the mechanic told me to use tape!

--a muffler that, while it doesn't sound loud, shakes the car like the bed at a cheap motel.

--head- and tail-lights that are permanently fogged with water

--a driver's side lock/unlock button that doesn't work at all

--a rear passenger's button that rarely unlocks.

and, my favorite b/c it makes me look like a moron at parking garages and drive-through bank machines:

--a driver's side window that is stuck permanently about 1.5 inches down. In the early part of the summer, the window had been getting balky, and one day, it went down and never went back up. Due to a huge stroke of luck on my part, this happened to be right before a huge thunderstorm hit town. Panicked, I drove to the nearest car place I could think of: Valvoline (have I mentioned I don't know much about cars?). They told me that my oil was fine, they couldn't fix my window, and I had to go to the glass shop a few miles away. That sounded odd to me. I was thinking I needed a mechanic, but I positioned the diaper that was on the window sill to try to stop the rain from pouring in on me, and went off to the glass shop. They told me everyone was gone for the day anyway, but, even if they weren't, I needed a mechanic, not a glass shop, since there wasn't anything wrong with the glass except that it wasn't going up and down! So off I went to my mechanic, clear across town, now with an absorbent "piddle pad" across my very wet arm. They were able to pull out the door mechanicals, and, after a while of jabbing, poking and putting wires together, were able to get the window up. Until a few days later when another driver in my family forgot about the situation as well as the piece of electrical tape on the window control that says "NO!", and pressed the down button. It spasmodically went down a bit, but never went up again. I taped up the inside of the window the day after that, when it started raining again, and I began muttering about "not again. Oh no, not on MY shift!" and used my Scotch Tear-By-Hand tape that I carry in the glove compartment to close up the gap.

So we're waiting on the $300 repair b/c, hey, it might be someone else's problem soon!

But other than those few minor things, it's a great car. We love you, Betsy! Don't conk out just b/c I aired our dirty laundry in public!

Comin up soon: What kind of car to get? What size car do we need? Do they make a hybrid that doesn't cost as much as the remaining payments on my mortgage? And do we really need to clean four years of my kids' junk out of this car before trying to sell it?! That's almost as frightening as looking at car prices.

1 comment:

uberimma said...

Well, I'm 35 and have three kids and I'm still holding out! I don't think I could have lasted this long in Malden though. Here I have two kosher grocery stores, a produce store, a bakery, my bank, a CVS and a health food store all within 7 minutes' walk. Both groceries and the produce store deliver. In Malden, it was 20 minutes to the Stop and Shop, and then we had to lug it all home!