You see, I had worked all through high school and college, but had nothing to show for it because I had spent all of my hard earned money on not one, not two, not three, but four - yes FOUR cars... all of which my mother had recommended, and all of which died in dramatic fashion within a year or two of my owning them.
First there was the Toyota Corolla that had a mysterious overheating problem... which turned out to be a cracked block. (For those who don't speak car... that's BAD... VERY BAD.)
Then there was the Chrysler that burned more oil than gasoline. I can't remember what its diagnosis was, but I think we had to pay somebody to come haul it away.
Then there was the Mazda that would just stop... for no apparent reason. The mechanics could never find anything wrong, but after it left me stranded for about the umpteenth time, I had had enough.
My mother finally concluded that I had some sort of car curse, and the only way to break it was to buy me a new car. Personally, I thought the problem had much more do do with the quality of the advice I was getting than any sort of curse, but hey, I was gonna get a new car out of the deal so I kept my mouth shut!
So I did my research and decided on the car that Consumer Reports rated highest in reliability... the Honda Civic. My mother bought it for me with one condition.
OK... have I mentioned that my mother is... well... errrr... a little bit... ummmm.... out there? The deal was that before I could have the car she took it to one of her psychic healer friends who performed a curse breaking spell on it. (Not kidding here)
And I had to promise to keep the curse breaking "Wanga Doll" in the glove compartment at all times. (Yes - it's still there.)
Anyhow... crazy parents notwithstanding, it's been a great little car. It took me across the country three times and even to Mexico. All that, and she still has less than 85,000 mile on her.
But about 5 years ago she started having problems. At first I thought it was just a fluke, but soon a definite pattern emerged. The car wouldn't start when it was hot. I took her to mechanic after mechanic. Most told me that I was either flooding the engine or that it had vapor lock, and nobody could fix it.
The problem grew worse and worse until about a month ago when it got to the point that it was practically unusable. Seriously, I'd run to the grocery store and then have to wait 2 hours in the parking lot for the engine to cool down before it would start again. Perhaps I had spoken ill of the Wanga doll one too many times...
Soooo... to make an excruciatingly long story a tad bit shorter. It took me a few weeks of research to determine that I probably wasn't gonna be able to replace the part myself, and then to find a reputable mechanic who would do it. I finally found a fellow who's been around since 1978 working exclusively on Hondas and Acuras. When I described the problem, his first response was to tell me to open the driver's door and give a hard whack right on the spot where I had already determined that the main relay was located. I knew I'd found my man!
So as long as I was gonna take her in, I decided to fix a whole gaggle of long neglected problems that had been lingering. Call it a 21st birthday present if you will. It meant that she had to stay in the shop for a week, and it cost me over 2 grand... (this included several concessions to CatMan who felt it was unsafe for me to be driving around in a car with a cracked windshield and a non-functioning defroster.) But it was worth it.
ANYHOW.... this is all my long winded way of telling you that for the past month I haven't had a car. The funny thing is, I barely noticed.
I walked or rode my bike to the grocery store, and for some reason both CatMan and my Dad decided that they needed to take me out to eat, so I actually went "out" much more than I regularly do. Really the only substantive change I had to make was to order a few cases ridiculously expensive food for the fe-lions online instead of getting it at the ridiculously expensive cat food store. In fact... it actually ended up being cheaper to buy it online!
So does this mean that I'm gonna go car free?
Well... while I certainly think it would be possible, the answer is no. I'm sure I could make it work if I really had to, but to be honest, it's really nice to know that you have a car available when you need to haul some lumber or to go to the farmer's market or Whole Foods, or someplace out of bicycle range. Plus... it just seems like the prudent thing to have transportation available in case of kitty medical emergencies.
All in all, it hasn't been a bad month, but I'm really glad to have my baby home!
I hope to keep her running smoothly for another 21 years!