by Pam Young
Attention mechanics: DO NOT read or listen to this essay. At best it’ll disgust you, but at worst, it could make you sick!
I’m a self-confessed car abuser and I’m not proud of it, it’s just the way it is. I’ve abused every car I’ve ever owned including my current one. My organizing skills have kept my cars clean on the outside and on the interior, but when it comes to taking care of what’s under the hood, they are nonexistent. I know, I know, I’m irresponsible. I wait until something happens and then I head for repair. And I know the “ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure,” deal, but I’ve never minded that proverb when it comes to automobiles.
Once I thought seriously about marrying a master mechanic, but I just couldn’t get past the permanent grease stains under his nails. So I married someone as mechanically challenged as I am. Have you ever noticed it costs more for a plumber, electrician or mechanic, if an inept person has taken a shot at a fix? In the 25 years Terry and I have been married the rap sheet on mechanical abuse runs long. We probably could be retired by now if we’d have been more mechanically adept.
The highlights of my abuse began with a brand new Chrysler called a Sundance. Now the Sundance was a worthless car in the first place. (Driving it out of the dealership, I went to roll the window down and the handle came off in my hand. Just an omen, because anything that could go wrong with that car, did.) I still could have taken better care of her. Two years into ownership, I was stopped at a red traffic light with a car on my left in the left-turn lane. Black smoke began encircling our cars as we waited for the light to change. I looked over at the car beside me and noted it was a real junker and I thought, ‘Get off the road, you polluting piece of junk.’ Then his light turned green and he took a left and left me engulfed in the smoke. It was my car that was smoking! My light turned green and as I drove through the intersection, I heard a sound like a Costco-sized can of Chili blew up under the hood. I’d blown my first rod! Okay, in the two years I owned the car I had never changed its oil.
I think I traded what was left of the Sundance on a new Mazda. With the Mazda, I took lessons they offered free to new owners on how to take good care of your purchase. I didn’t mind.
Our next car was a Cadillac. We were coming up in the world and I vowed to be better. We still have her today, but we are still guilty of negligence! The Caddy has a big computer that I swear makes the car seem like a person. She lets us know when she’s hungry, thirsty, needs an oil change, more coolant etc. Trouble is, it turns out she’s a real hypochondriac. A good example; one morning her engine light came on informing me that something was wrong with her engine and I needed to get her in immediately! $119 later, it turned out the only thing wrong with her was that the engine light was faulty! The fix cost me another $45!
The Cadillac was born in 1998 and I figure she’s 105 in car years (same as dogs). We call her The Old Lady. She moans when I start her up in the morning if the temperature in the garage is below 45 degrees. I rammed into another car about two years ago and put a big hole in her rear bumper and when I went to get it fixed, I was informed it would cost more than the whole car is worth, so I just put a bumper sticker over the hole.
I think we’ll keep The Old Lady until she croaks, probably on the side of the road somewhere, but until that day, we keep oil and water in the trunk because she’s constantly complaining that she’s low on them. I figure I don’t have to take her in for oil changes anymore, because she’s constantly burning oil and we’re adding fresh oil on almost a daily basis.
I think when she does bite the dust; we’ll just rent a car or take the bus. Oh, and if you are a car, and you see me gazing at you with that look of intended acquisition, please, for your own good take off the other the way.
For more from Pam Young go to www.makeitfunanditwillgetdone.com. You’ll find many musings, videos of Pam in the kitchen preparing delicious meals, videos on how to get organized, ways to lose weight and get your finances in order, all from a reformed SLOB’s point of view.
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