Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Car is Dead. Long Live the Car.

Well, I’ve certainly had a lot of things to say about my driving habits. I’ve been influenced a lot by the car I’ve been driving for the past ten years. Ten HARD years, too.

Sally is… was…. a black Mustang convertible, with more power than was really necessary. She had flair, and style. She’s the kind of car that Satan’s wife drives when she’s going out with the girls. Good for cruising down the road with the top down, looking over at the ocean and laughing like hell while you shoot through traffic like they’re standing still.

I drove her for many miles. Nearly 225,000. I thought I was going to get a quarter million out of the old girl, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Last night she started overheating during the commute home. I pulled off the road and Jesse and the dog came to my rescue – we let her cool down, filled the radiator, and babied her back to the home lot. We poked around under the hood, which is total fakery on my part because I know nothing about cars, and decided that I’d go back to taking the train. I’d been pretty good about the train, but stopped after Bander injured himself; it was too hard to take care of him while dedicating the extra time to the commute. And if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time at all, you know the dog gets the top spot in my schedule. (There’s a “top dog” joke in there somewhere, but I’m too lazy to dig it out.)

So we reasoned that I could limp my car back and forth to the train station. Just five or six miles each way. That should work for a while, right? I have some other stuff in the works that isn’t quite ready yet, and I could really use a few more months out of Mustang Sally.

Well, at 7 am the following day, I found out that both Jesse and I are stupidly optimistic. I did manage to get to the train station, and as I stood there and watched my engine billowing steam, I made a mental list of the things that are wrong with her. Poor thing.

1. Tires are bald.

2. Water pump has given up.

3. Several different fluids are leaking. I have not bothered to sort out which ones.

4. The thermostat is obviously not working. (hiss, billow, steam.)

5. The rear differential slips. A lot.

6. The transmission has developed a nervous tic.

7. The cruise control is dead. It hasn’t worked for the last hundred thousand miles.

8. You can’t roll down the driver’s side window. This makes fast food runs a horrifying ordeal.

9. The engine stutters if your speed is between 40 and 70. I solved this one by driving eighty all the time.

10. Something is odd about the suspension. I can’t put my finger on it, but it sort of feels like the right front tire might fall off one of these days pretty soon.

11. Jeez, even the wiper blades are rotted and useless.

I’ve loved Sally, I really have. But it’s been a hard life for her, and I have certainly gotten my money’s worth. As I walked away from the steaming hulk to board the train, I realized it was time.

I spent most of the morning combing through Craigslist, and shortly after lunch I became the proud owner of a Ford Explorer. Used, of course, since a car loan is NOT part of my plans. Ten years old, in fact – but it’s been a kinder ten years with whoever owned him last. He wears it well.

He’s a much bigger and more muscular guy than I’m used to, and I immediately noticed that he doesn’t corner the same way Sally did. There’s less hugging the curve and more “keep this up and I’ll tip the hell over”. The back is nice and roomy, which the dog will like. The seats are comfy. All in all, a good purchase.

I haven’t yet decided on a name. Sally was fun and flirty. This guy is more staid and conservative. So I need to find something both stuffy and referencing exploration. I’m thinking maybe Stanley, after the Welsh gentleman who trekked through scads of African jungle before uttering the famous, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

Most explorers are named things like Amerigo or Ferdinand or Erik the Red and my new ride is not nearly that exotic. And a lot of explorer-type names are ill-omened. I’ve been researching this for all of ten minutes, and I’m already surprised by how often I’ve heard the phrase “sadly, he never lived to tell the tale”. Quite a number or explorers have met untimely ends by… well, by exploring, and discovering waterfalls by blundering over the edge. Or by mutinies, from crew members who were promised things like fame and fortune and are now being dragged across trackless wilderness while the leader says things like “I wonder what’s over that hill, the one in the distance?”

As usual, I digress. I’m going with either Stanley or possibly Livingstone unless one of you suggests a better name.

Oh, and a local charity group is coming to the train station tomorrow with a tow truck. I’ll be there to sign paperwork and watch her go.

Go gently, Sally. You were a good girl.


sisterofmagichands said...

RIP Sally. I am having a hard time picturing you in a Ford Explorer. It is kind of hard to wrap my head around.

Anonymous said...

aww poor Sally =(
sounds like Stanley might be a little apprehensive...does he know what he's gotten himself into?

Suds to Love said...

such a sad time of things... at least you had a good number of years with sally. I think Stanley is a good name!

Darren said...

We got 395,000 out of our Saturn so I know the pain of pulling the plug from life support.(oil,squeaks and squeals) How about Quartermain (Alan). He's stuffy and brash, muscular and an explorer.

Magic Hands said...

Oh, I LIKE Quartermain - I'm using it! And he's at least partially immortal, yes? Good juju for a car that I own, lol.

I will save Stanley for a less imposing vehicle. :)

Tracy said...

Wait, what color is Quartermain?
Sorry to hear about Sally.

Magic Hands said...

He's blue and was portrayed by Sean Connery and Richard Chamberlain.



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