Today I accidentally rediscovered one of my own posts about the death, in 2009, of my 1995 Camaro. I just can’t tell you how distressed I was. You would think I’d lost a family member, or a dog. But it felt very similar. That Camaro had traveled all over the country with me, and reliably gotten me from Point A to Point B for almost 15 years. (Which is really all I ask of a car.) We were friends.
It turned out it was only temporarily dead. It had a blown head gasket. The person I bartered it to fixed it up and sold it. As far as I know, it’s still cruising the streets. I’m strangely comforted by that. But how is it that it’s cheaper to buy a new car than it is to fix your old one?
The Camaro did have its downsides. First there was the 15 mpg thing. Which leads me to an aside, namely Cash For Clunkers. Remember that? Talk about an ill-conceived idea with the best of intentions. I thought surely I would qualify, but I didn’t. Your car had to be a certain age ( I qualified there), but it had to get 18 MPG or less WHEN IT WAS NEW. What is wrong with that picture? I consoled myself with the idea that the government got even worse cars than mine off the road. Maybe. The cars were supposed to be destroyed once you turned them in. That didn’t turn out to be true either.
But I digress. The second downside to the Camaro was that it was so low to the ground that it was apparently invisible to other drivers. I mean that as a joke. The reality was that other drivers, especially those with big pickup trucks and SUV’s ignored it. They figured you couldn’t do any damage to them, so they just barreled right on through, regardless of the right of way or any other considerations (you know, like being polite). If anyone is going to get hurt, it’s going to be you. I will say, it does teach you patience, even if you have to grit your teeth. It’s probably good that I had to give way, because if I had a bigger car, I swear I might have rammed your car just for the justice of it. Insurance be damned.
I learned this when I lived in Des Moines. We had a work truck, a Dodge Ram 1500 that I would sometimes drive when it snowed, as long as it didn’t snow heavily enough for us to need the truck for snow removal. Hauling stuff and removing snow were its jobs. So I discovered that when I was driving the truck, everyone gave way. Amazing. It wasn’t me. It was the truck.
I loved that truck. It was hunter green. It was my job as chief bottle washer to go buy a snowplow attachment for it. Imagine how fun that was. I know as much about snowplows as I know about quantum physics. I came to Iowa from New Orleans. I had never lived anywhere with snow since I became an adult. So I went to this snowplow place, which had a bumper sticker on the door which said “Snow Happens”.
The truck was 4-wheel drive. My boss purchased it, and I had to drive it from St. Louis to Des Moines, a 7-hour trip. I wasn’t even out of St. Louis before I had a screaming headache from bouncing up and hitting my head on the roof. When I finally made it back, the chief maintenance guy said, Oh yeah. I should have warned you about that. You should have put weight in the truck bed. Several five-gallon bottles of water, or sandbags, or bags of ice melt.
But I learned that lesson. My Camaro was a rear-wheel drive, so it would fishtail if the streets were icy. So every winter, we would pile its trunk with four or five hundred pounds of ice melt.
But after 7 hours on the road with that truck, we had bonded 🙂 I loved that truck.