Extreme Unction for an Automobile

Clearly there are some weeping angels working some kind of mischief, because I blinked and we’re more than a week into September.  This means, among other things, that it’s been 3 weeks and 9 months since I first declared that I Need A Newer Car.

It’s a bit hard to narrow possibilities down when all you’re looking for is “newer than 1994, a bit smaller, better gas mileage than a Buick Century.”

It’s a bit hard to narrow possibilities down when all you’re looking for is “newer than 1994, a bit smaller, better gas mileage than a Buick Century.”

Sadly, making such a declaration isn’t the same thing as finding and purchasing a vehicle.  Back in February, I stirred myself just enough to flip through an old Consumer Report and figure out which 2-6 year-old cars would, statistically speaking, be a bad plan.  Weeks later, I took a few stabs at searching for images from the driver’s seat of each one.  A few months after that, I’d gotten as far as checking dealerships online, as well as cars+trucks on Craigslist.  At the current rate, I’ll be finding and test-driving actual cars sometime in 2015.  2016?  2020?  You’d think it wouldn’t be so wearying for a person in southeast Michigan.

Fortunately, unlike Melpomene, I am not the owner of a dead car.  My Buick is hard pressed, but not crushed.  True, there’ve been some rough starts (dead battery a couple times here, flat tire there, not to mention that time the gearshift came off in my hand) and, more alarmingly, a few sudden stops (a serpentine belt that slipped off something important, a broken gas line, a weird hiccup followed by completely normal functioning on the car’s part, and paranoia on mine).

Imagine this, but full of gas receipts, Kroger bags, and a travel mug rolling about

Imagine this, but full of gas receipts, Kroger bags, and a travel mug rolling about

This is the car that has suffered parking garage scrapes, a fender-bender on US-23, and the loss of its catalytic converter when it was stolen some years back. It’s got some tea stains inside and rust outside.  It rattles so much that I keep the radio far too loud at any speed over 60 mph.  It is partly held together with zip ties.

“Apart from the brakes, suspension, carburetor, transmission, the whole engine really, upholstering on a couple of the seats, and a fender or two, it’s the exact same car!”

“Apart from the brakes, suspension, carburetor, transmission, the whole engine really, upholstering on a couple of the seats, and a fender or two, it’s the exact same car!”

But it’s also the car that’s taken me to Hillsdale and back at least three dozen times.  It has conveyed me to concerts in Grand Rapids, Bay City, and Dublin, OH.  I’ve visited family and friends in Midland, Lafeyette, Columbus, Grand Haven, Kalamazoo, and Chicago with it.  It’s carried me, my generally overpacked bags, boxes of books, the Bar Bag of Delight, and various friends most faithfully.

I think I’m growing fonder of it, rather irrationally, as it becomes older and less reliable.

It can’t be too long before it turns in its notice of resignation.  Were it a horse (o, valiant steed!), we’d be fingering a shotgun with regret and making arrangements with the glue factory.  Were it a man, we’d be anointing him with oil and praying for God’s mercy upon him.

But as it is a vehicle, well.

Guess I’d better head back to Craigslist.

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