Tuesday, November 24, 2009


My first car was like this Ford Fiesta.

I should be out grocery shopping and getting ready for the Thanksgiving crowd I am hosting this Thursday but instead I am waiting for an auto mechanic who makes house calls to come help me. My ten-year-old minivan refuses to start today. Well, technically, she can start--the problem is the key no longer turns in the ignition. Alas it is not a simple fix--the spare keys don't work either which means the key isn't worn out but the ignition is and banging on it with a hammer is not working.

My kids keep telling me we need a new minivan. I say, "You're a bunch of wimps." They have no idea what it's like to drive a real beater around. Right now the only thing wrong with my car (except for the aforementioned issue) is that the passenger window rolls down but doesn't always roll up. Which is why I say, "Quite whining and hold a towel over the window" when it rains. Usually it will roll back up but only after you drive around a bit pretending you don't care that the elements are coming in on you. The back wiper doesn't work either but so what? How many cars actually have back wipers anyway? The trunk latch broke a few months ago but I did replace that. You really can't have a mini van without the use of a trunk.

Other than that for a ten-year-old car with 100,000 mile on it, it goes great. It is NOT anywhere near the clunker/replace it now stage--and believe me I know.

My first car ever was a used Ford Fiesta my parents bought me when I graduated from college. Now that car sucked. It had fuses that blew if I made a left hand turn with the radio on (I knew how to change them without stopping, they were in the dashboard) and the gas gauge never worked so of course I was frequently running out of gas because I had miscalculated how far a tank of gas would go. It broke down constantly and was so poorly designed you had to pull the engine to do even minor repairs. In case you have never heard the words "pull the engine" let me translate. It means "will cost way more money than you have and take days to repair."

It is one of life's sad truths that only people without much money drive shitty cars that need a lot of money to repair regularly which is why I finally got rid of the car when they told me they had to "pull the engine" to change the oil. I am only exaggerating slightly on that.

My second car was a used Toyota Corolla. It was awesome! It NEVER broke down and the only money I put into it was for brakes. I would still have that car if I hadn't had kids. I can only imagine their complaining if I did still have it. It had vinyl seats, no air-conditioning, crank windows and NO radio which believe me you do not miss as much as you think you'd might. It was a stick shift (which I happen to drive with amazing skill if I do say so myself) and I loved tooling around in that.

Between the Corolla and the mini-van I bought my parents used Buick LeSabre. I know, it looked funny to see me get out of a Grandpa car with my two toddlers in their car seats but that was a nice car too. Very comfy and plush. The only thing was that after driving the Corolla with the manual, that thing was like driving a La-Z-Boy with wheels. Comfortable but boring.

I happily traded that up for my only new car--the now old mini-van and I've been very satisfied with that since. It does the trick when you have kids and it's a Toyota so it doesn't break down.

I had to borrow Coffee Friend 2's car this morning to go to a school appointment and she told me, "Why don't you quit being a cheap hippie and get rid of that piece of shit car before you break down on Lake Avenue like trash." Really. She says stuff like that to me all the time which is why she's one of my favorite people in the world.

But the fact is that even though I can afford a new car (or at least a new used car) I just don't know what I'd get. I still need a minivan and really, who gets rid of a car just because it rains inside occasionally or you can't turn it on when you need it.

Not me.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am thankful I have a minivan and I can afford to repair it when it breaks down!


  1. It sounds to me that with that Fiesta not only did you have the wrong car but also the wrong garage.

    European Fords of the eighties are very basic cars, and pulling of engines should not be necessary for minor repairs. If you'd been driving a Citroen GSA, now THAT would have been a different story. And an even worse one.

    I keep thinking that the Citroen 2CV would be a perfect car for you. It has too few parts to break down very frequently, and you are already in touch with the elements with this car anyway.

  2. Your parents bought you a CAR for graduation?!?!
    Did you not see that episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show?

  3. You parents must have been very mean?