Mar. 19th, 2010

Little was my second car. Dad suggested that it was a good idea to buy a new car, so that you could get to know it from the beginning and hear when she started squeaking or rumbling. I settled on a Saturn because I hate the notion that car dealers know the bargaining game better than you and are out to make you pay $500 more than you should, and Saturn uniquely didn't play those games. I got a small engine and standard transmission and no air conditioner because I liked the fact that it was both cheaper and better mileage that way. It was a harder decision to turn down the power windows and locks, but it would have brought the price tag all the way up to $13,000 and that'd be a crazy amount to spend on a car.

Little and I have been to thirteen states and two provinces together. Despite being from Tennessee, she handled some of Rochester's harshest winters like a local. As far as I can recall, she's been to four weddings and three funerals. She's carried one baby and witnessed one makeout session. A little over 128,000 miles, and I don't think she went fifteen of those miles without me behind the wheel. And for nearly exactly fourteen years, every time I walk through a parking lot looking for her I see her and smile because I had the prettiest car in the lot and I've been getting 41 MPG in the summertime all this time.

Still, she's been aging. While continuing to run like a dream, the annual inspections have been in the habit of turning up expensive problems. Two years ago, I had to totally replace the brakes and exhaust system, which was a few kilobucks. But this year, she failed with a rusted subframe, and I know enough about cars to know that's the beginning of the last chapter. I don't know if turning down the repairs was callous or sensible. I don't even know if I should be thinking about it like my car was a pet that I'm having put down.

Tomorrow morning the local Vietnam veterans group will come to tow her away. She's at my parent's house, so I've already seen her for the last time. My understanding is that she's going to be crushed because she's got a non-repairable condition. I get that, but I hope they strip her pull out all of her good parts first, because there are a lot of other '96 Saturns on the road and I bet her engine still has a lot of life to offer.

I still don't know what will happen next. I can't imagine what car I want next, and I can't envision myself bargaining for it. In the mean time, I'm driving my Mom's 2008 Yaris while she and Dad are down in Florida, which is very much appreciated and a satisfactory car, but.

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Matthew Daly

December 2012

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