Friday, February 02, 2007

Piece of Shit Car

If you live in the western hemisphere, then chances are, you've heard us coming.

When we bought the old Buick, she was a bargain. She was used, but barely. The previous owners were old people (aka, my grandparents), and as we all know, old people take really good care of their cars. I'm talking about flawless maintenance records, never being more than 5 minutes late for an oil change, never braking hard, never exceeding 26km\hr....and the back window was pleasantly decorated with hand-crafted doilies and shuffle board awards, so who could resist?

We overlooked the fact that it was powder blue because the price was right, and we tended not to care that she was as big as a boat because frankly, I was a little bit sentimental about the old thing: this is the car that I took (and passed) my driver's test in. This was the car that my grandfather would pick me up in at 5 am to go fishing with him for perch on the St Lawrence river, and then drive home half a day later, sunburnt and smelly fishy, at 19km\hr while while he recounted memories of his childhood which I was pretty sure weren't true.

Like I said, when we first got her, she was old (she's 10 years now) and she was ugly, but her tenacious spirit meant that she got us to where we were going. But the poor thing quickly went into shock. She had spent years under the gentle care of senior citizens, those kindly old people who put her to bed in a cozy garage at night, and took her out into the sunshine for nice sudsy baths, and never asked any more from her than to cart home the odd grocery bag filled with geritol and metamucil. But then one day she was replaced by a younger, sleeker model, and she fell into the hands of...dunh, dunh, dunh: the evil twenty-somethings!!!

These crazy kids ripped out the beaded seat cushions faster than you could eat a bran muffin. They played their voodoo music to decibel-splitting levels and steamed up the windows doing god-knows-what. They took her out for late-night slushie\pizza runs, and made her carry enormous loads, such as 17 of their drunk friends, who sometimes left behind smelly reminders of their ride home.

But worst of all - yes, worst of all - was their shocking and utter lack of consideration. They did not keep up with the old girl's maintenance regime.

True, we often thought to ourselves: well, we could rotate the tires...or, we could buy 3 cases of beer.

Guess which won out.

Yeah, like you had to guess.

So now our car is falling apart.

It started with the shaking. It shakes, constantly. For a while I was getting motion sickness while we were stopped at red lights, but this has been going on for so long that Jason has worked out a "solution." No, the solution does not involve spending money on fixing the car. It involves him keeping his foot on the gas while his other foot is on the brake. It doesn't stop the shaking altogether, but I've been biting my tongue a lot less.

Then the squirty part of the windshield wipers stopped working. They wipe, but they don't squirt fluid, so we can no longer drive behind trucks, on dirt roads, during springtime, or the fall.

And then Jason's (the driver's) power window stopped working. All the others are still fine, but Jason's is the one where we conduct all our best drive-thru business: the bank, the pharmacy, the cleaners...and for god's sake, don't forget the coffee! So now we have to stop and get out to do these things, which wouldn't be so awful except for the fact that whatever causes the car to shake also causes the battery to not get properly charged, which means either stalling at inappropriate times, or not starting at all, which is never appropriate. But if we take the chance and roll down that window, we have to drive an additional 25 minutes to get it back up. And we know now from experience that on the nights that we had to leave it open a crack, it WILL rain, the car seat WILL soak up the equivalent of an ocean (well, a small ocean, like maybe the Indian), and Jason WILL have to drive to work on top of 14 towels and 3 garbage bags just to keep his pants dry (however, it WILL be the wet seatbelt that leaves the dirty mark across his new shirt and tie).

Then my door (the passenger door) stopped opening from the inside. This has forced Jason to be chivalrous and open it for me from the outside, so perhaps this is just the car's way of getting back to her old-fashioned roots (emphasis on old).

Then the dashboard vents starting squirting anti-freeze into the car, upwards onto the windshield, and downwards onto my shoes, and all the other valuables, like my purse, mp3 player, laptop, and cellphone, that I keep there. We could probably deal with the weird fog that pools at my feet (and the fact that I have to keep all belongings on my lap). And we could probably deal with the noxious anti-freeze fumes that now give the car a "distinctive" scent that 678 tree-shaped air fresheners have so far failed to mask. What is harder to deal with is the film of anti-freeze that has accumulated on the inside of the windshield, which gives the world a dewy, hazy, bleary tinge that would reek of reduced visibility had not Jason come up with another of his patented "solutions": he bravely sacrificed (or stupidly ruined, whichever) one of his nicest shirts, which is now living a second life as a rag, one that gets rubbed on all the windows at least 8 kabillion times per trip (note: anti-freeze and cleaner are like oil and water, nothing cuts through this stuff, nothing gets rid of it...the best we can hope for is just to wipe it out of the way for small amounts of time).

And now the heater doesn't work. I told Jason not to despair, we had extra mittens, sure it would be cold, but we'd survive. But he said that actually, we might not survive, because on the coldest days, ice would freeze on the inside as well as out, and would be next to impossible to get off if the car wasn't warming, and driving in freezing rain would be extra hazardous, and then on the milder days, our breath would fog the windshield, and breath fog on top of anti-freeze fog would basically be like trying to see out the bottom of a mayonnaise jar, but with the mayonnaise still in it. Okay, so that was a better simile in my head. You get the point. But the good news is, now that we have no heater, the heater doesn't make that loud mating-call that it's been making for the past 2 months, which is good, because I'm tired of getting humped by geese.

So, to make a long story short (well, if you're reading this, then you've already read the long version...haha, I tricked you!) the car is almost not a car anymore.

So we have to decide whether to keep setting our money on fire (aka, fixing a car that just isn't ever going to be fixed) or just junking the thing completely. Because the way she drives now, we couldn't sell her for a box of donuts. She's not even worth much as scrap metal because one of these days I'll look in the driveway and see only a pile of rust dust where our car once was (you can tell, because our parking spot is the one with all the oil stains on it).

In the last year, we have invested in a new battery, new tires, new brakes, and other things that have names and functions I don't understand, and I feel like we're prolonging a life that has already run it's course. Time to pull the plug. Time to put her down. Time to get a bus pass.

But for now, she hobbles on her last legs because Jason knows I don't want to get a new car. Having this car has convinced me that we are terrible, irresponsible people who deserve to be pedestrians for the rest of our lives. We haven't earned the right to complain because we abused our poor car who only wanted to bring us the joy of getting places while obeying all posted traffic signs. We've been selfish. In the immortal words of Adam Sandler:

What the fuck did I do
What the fuck did I do
To get stuck with you
You're too wide for drive-thru
And you smell like the shoe
But I'm too broke to buy something new
Oh fuck me

I've got a piece of shit car.

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