I bought it on the day John F. Kennedy, Jr. died, July 16, 1999. Not the greatest of memories to associate with the purchase of my very first brand new car, but a milestone day for me.
The cars I’d previously driven had never been my choice: my father’s car, a hand-me-down from my husband or some used vehicle on its last legs, purchased at an affordable price from a friend.
What a thrill it was to finally select the exact vehicle I wanted from a car dealer, brand new off the lot. Tan-colored with a beige cloth interior, it wasn’t a fancy car. Nothing anyone would notice in a parking lot or on the road. Just an unassuming, but reliable car. Over the years, I watched as others brought their fairly new cars to their dealer or service station for repairs. My car only required oil changes every 3,000 miles, and when necessary, a new battery or tires. It never failed me on trips back and forth to work, or even on an occasional out-of-town jaunt.
During the sixteen years I owned my car, friends and relatives replaced theirs with new vehicles, some every two or three years. They spoke of GPS and Bluetooth and Sirius radio. They boasted about keyless entry and backup cameras. I never had the desire for a new car. Mine got me where I wanted to go without fanfare and without fear of a breakdown. Its body remained smooth and unblemished.
All good things, however, come to an end. The driver side visor broke loose and had to be jerry-rigged into place in a permanent down position. Mysterious wisps of smoke occasionally ascended from my steering column like a genie emerging from his bottle. When stopped in traffic or at a light, the car idled so roughly it felt like a vibrating bed in a cheap motel room. The “check engine soon” light became a constant beacon on my dashboard. It would take many hundreds of dollars to fix these problems.
The time had come for a replacement. Something new.
Driving my car for the last time, I abandoned it at the dealer. It wouldn’t have the pleasure of ownership by a new family. Instead, it would be trucked to some car auction, dismembered and sold for parts. A pretty sad legacy for a great car.
I drove off the lot in my brand new car, a lovely head-turner, graceful as a white steed in an open field.
I’m hoping for another sixteen years.