Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cars & Life Lessons--Humility & Non-Attachment

It is amazing how God uses the little things to teach us such profound lessons. I've never been into cars. I didn't own my first car until I was 25 and needed it  for my job as a marketing consultant for Mobil Oil Corp. I purchased the same car that my mom had--a 1990 Toyota Camry. That was the only NEW car I've ever owned and I drove it into the ground--200,000 miles in 7 years. 

My next car was also a Camry--this time USED from an auto auction. (The perks of working as a consultant for an automotive dealer) After that I had a Ford Explorer--an Ian cast-off, which I also drove for 175,000 miles. Around the 170,000 mile marker, my friend decided to sell her 1997 or 1998 (I can't remember) red Land Rover. Of course I told her that I couldn't afford it, but Ian thought otherwise. Despite it's 8+ years, it looked brand new and only had 50, 000 miles on it. For $18,000 it was a bargain or so I thought. I did briefly wonder why a $45,000 car didn't hold it's value after only 7 years, but quickly put the thought out of my mind. 

I quickly developed an unhealthy attachment to this car. I LOVED the 3rd row of jumpseats. I LOVED that I could tow a boat. I LOVED that it was a hip, cool RED car. I LOVED that it had heated seats. I LOVED the sunroof (which only worked for a week until I drove into my vertically-challenged garage, crushing the sunroof) My lovefest diminished a bit at 75,000 miles, when the car started falling apart. The Land Rover service dept. personnel all wear suits and serve you wine when you visit. This is so you refrain from going into apocalytpic shock when your service bill arrives. It is never under $1000. Clearly Land Rover is in cahoots with the Devil or Dick Cheney, because you can never get aftermarket parts. ONLY Land Rover can fix your car. After I've had to mortgage my children against future income, I realized that perhaps the Land Rover wasn't such a smart car to own. The bottom-less money pit of HELL. 

One day while driving home from a weekend field trip with my Uarts students, my car decided to just die. Ian says it didn't actually BLOW-UP. It wasn't like the car explosions in the movies. However, the engine light briefly went on and the temperature dial went berserk, (resembling an alien encounter depicted on X-files). Luckily or not, it stopped on an exit ramp 5 miles from my home. Smoke poured out of the engine. I didn't see flames, but the car was clearly SMOKING! In order to avoid  asphyxiation, I had to exit the car and sit on the side of the road like a homeless person. It was a bit embarrassing. Even though there are dozens of service stations in the area, AAA took hours to rescue me. 

I worked in the automotive and gas business for 10 years, so should be used to the stereotypes surrounding women and cars. Of course, everyone thought that the dumb blonde forgot to put oil in the car. In actuality, the  coolant leaked out. I'm not a car designer or manufacturer, but it makes sense that there would be some sort of warning light that would indicate a leak or at least a verbal warning--SELL THE CAR NOW, WHILE YOU STILL CAN.  

The well-mannered suited guy at Land Rover told me in a calm voice that my engine was fried. How could an engine fry in such a short period of time? You can fix it, right? Ok--how much does a new engine cost? I reply, equally as calm. He says a new engine costs over $10K-- $4K more than the car is worth, as if this is an everyday conversation and not 25% of my yearly income. However I could tell that the man was truly contrite and it pained him deeply to give me such dire information. NO ONE would even take the car for spare parts. I had to walk away. Just walk away. YES, YOU HEARD ME RIGHT. I JUST WALKED AWAY FROM A PERFECTLY GOOD CAR WITH 80,000 MILES AND A FRIED ENGINE. 

My lesson in humility and non-attachment was far from over however. The good and bad news was that I was blessed to inherit my husband's car once again. He had a company car, so was able to 'give' me his 1995 Chevy Impala SS. A muscle car with a corvette engine and tinted windows. It only had 150, 000 miles. I nicknamed it THE TANK or THE BOMB.  (not to be confused with da bomb) I get lots of attention driving the car. Heads turn and stare in awe at the middle-aged blonde woman driving the cop car. The loud engine announces my arrival at least 3 blocks in advance. But how many people can go O-60mph in only 4 seconds? I can beat any mom in the school pick-up line and I'm the envy of every teenaged boy, who says--wow!!! your car is really fast. My favorite day was when the rusted muffler dropped to the street, causing sparks and a hideous grating noise. As I was pulling into the parking lot for my son's wrestling tournament, some guy yells Lady--it's your muffler. I kept my mouth closed, practicing great restraint. 

I promise you I've eaten humble pie and don't even notice the stares anymore. I don't have any attachment to this car, so if you have an extra one that you'd like to gift me....

1 comment:

  1. I cannot believe this is the car you are driving. I wish I could help. This is a serious situation.