Friday, January 8, 2010

Rest in Peace, Bluey

I bought my first car, a '98 little Chesapeake Bay-blue Toyota Corolla, before I even had my license. At $5,000 for six years and 50,000 miles, it was a real steal. My parents fronted $2,500 and the registration fees; the rest came from several summers of saved babysitting salary.

Bluey had quirks from the beginning. Her driver's side window never sealed quite right--it took one person holding the glass pane just so and another to hit the button to get it to close sufficiently, and even then I had to crank the stereo as soon as I hit 40mph to drown out the sound of the wind. Going through tolls involved putting the car in park and opening the whole door. This was a delicate operation in and of itself, as the door handle was loose and threatened to come off completely if you yanked with too much force. The cupholder, when it didn't stick too much to pop out, was flimsy and better served to hold iPods, glasses, tissues--basically anything that wouldn't result in Slurpee across your feet after every turn. The airbag light flashed intermittently--a flaw in the wiring and not in the airbag, said the dealership when we took it in to be examined, although passengers were less easily convinced. When the traction failed in slick conditions, even I would start to wonder; luckily Bluey's slight shudder and lack of shock absorption discouraged reckless driving. She may have had pretty good gas mileage, but her appetite still bled my minimum-wage budget several dollars a gallon. The breaks were always loose, but you got used to it (a little too much, perhaps--I still screech suddenly to a halt when I drive other, "normal" cars).

In short, she was a great first car. She gave me six good years, and even shared herself with Gramma regularly, and later with Dad when the Camry died. She protected me when I spun out on route 95 during senior year of high school, and kept me connected to civilization during senior year of college.

And then David happened.

My brother more or less inherited my car after graduation, using it as his mobile trash heap. Within a week he had rear-ended someone, leaving the hood slightly crumpled but the engine in working order. The car was too old to merit the repairs, my parents decided, so it remained on the road as-is. A week before I came home, he ran it into a ditch during a snow storm, where it stayed for several days before my parents had it towed out.

David managed to at least clean out the trash before I came home, but Bluey was in a sad state otherwise. With a dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree, she groans like she's in overdrive just to hit 20mph. The carpeted seats and floor stink of smoke and are stained with mold and unidentifiable fluids, the grey plastic borders of the doors are peeling in sharp splinters to expose a yellowed frame underneath. The inside driver's door handle is now broken; to get out, you have to roll down the (still broken) window and open the door from the outside, whose handle threatens to break off at any moment.

To be fair, Bluey's now more than ten years old and close to 150,000 miles. She also has (and has had, for a while) a cracked catalytic converter, meaning she was doomed to fail the emissions test she was due for a few weeks back. In short, it's her time, and when I leave for the airport in a few days it will probably be the last time I see her.

I had planned to give her a good bye road trip down to college to visit some friends. It seemed an appropriate destination for a nostalgic final voyage, and the drive through rural Southern Maryland would feel like putting her out to pasture, in a way. However, when I awoke to a fresh snowfall on Friday, Mom made the executive decision that it was too dangerous to risk Bluey's less-than-reliable state on the icy roads. While I missed Bluey, I have to admit that the new Camry offered a much smoother ride and made me eager for the days, surely not far from now, when I will be able to afford my own, nicer car. I should probably take this opportunity to construct some poetic passage using my car as a metaphor for growing up, but this is getting long, so I'll end simply:

Rest in Peace, little blue car. You were a true trooper. You will be sorely missed.

1 comment:

  1. lol, You should come drive one of James's cars...
    the '92 Toyota Carib 4wd stationwagon, who's clutch has been dying for over a year now.It will atleast have a familiar windy sound from the drivers window that doesn't really close.

    or the '91 Isuzu Mu Truck which has in the last few months: Had its back windscreen broken, the roof around the sunroof bent, now we get high pitched whistling at over 50k. The wheel bearings have just been replaced, along with the drive shaft James melted (!!!) driving 150ks home with said smashed up wheel bearings... It is tri colour, Mostly blue, with two front panels in black and numerous grey patches of primer and bog... James loves it.

    And yes, be afraid world. These are the cars I'm learning to drive in...