Mellow Yellow

Since I got my drivers’ license 49 years ago, I’ve owned a 1969 red Mustang, a 1976 brown Honda Civic hatchback, a 1984 gray Chevy Nova, a 1993 sage green Subaru Legacy station wagon, and my current car, a 2003 yellow Volkswagen Beetle (aka Nana’s yellow bug).

My uncle helped me buy my Mustang. My first husband handled buying the Honda Civic. After I got divorced, one of the first things I did was buy a new car. I researched the fair price of a 1984 Nova through a car-buying service offered by my credit union. I went in to the car dealership, and told the sales guy who drew the short straw that I was only going to pay $5000 for the car since that’s what the car buying service would have paid, and he agreed. That transaction took about an hour! Bill helped me buy the station wagon. When it came time to buy my VW, I took Bill’s friend John to help me seal a good deal.

Of all of my cars, my yellow bug is far and away my favorite. A few years after I bought the car, I was in an accident wherein a young driver blew through a red light while looking at his telephone, and took out my entire front end. I wasn’t hurt, nor was he. I had the front end repaired, but my car has had its share of knocks and rattles since.

I have never kept a car past 100,000 miles. My VW currently has 97,486 miles. The reason I get rid of cars around 100,000 miles is because I don’t trust them after that. It’s an artificial number, I know. But that’s the way it is.

Or was, anyway. Because here’s the thing: my grandkids have forbidden me from getting a new car. Nana’s car is the yellow bug, and that’s that. Now, of course, if I wanted a new car, I wouldn’t let the opinions of nine kids whose ages average 9.6666667 daunt me. But I love that car. It’s noisy and bouncy and too small to carry much of anything. I can only handle two grandkids at a time unless one of them is old enough to sit in the front seat. But the grandkids always spot me when I’m driving through the neighborhood. And when I come out of the grocery store or church or a shopping mall, I can always spot my car no matter where it’s parked.

But, tick tock, tick tock.

A couple of weeks ago, my Check Engine light came on. I tried to ignore it, but every time I started my car, there was Mr. Check Engine giving me the stink eye. Bill attempted to fix what he thought was the problem, and the light went out for a few days. And then came back on. Bill tentatively suggested that it might be time to trade it in. Speaking of stink eyes: I could envision the stink eye Kaiya would give me if I pulled up in a blue four door sedan.

But I finally took the car into a service station. This was a repair shop I had never before used, but it had come highly recommended by a friend. The reason that was important is because let’s be frank. Car repair personnel have you under their thumb. They can tell you whatever they want and you either believe them or you don’t.

Yes, Ma’am. We took a look under the ol’ hoodaroo and it seems your compression rings are chamfered on the outer periphery instead of the inner combustion chamber. That makes your crankcase have too much blowby. We can change the periphery for $3,159 plus tax and labor. 

And really, what’s a guy to do? He showed me some sad looking somethings-or-others with a solemn look on his face, but how am I to know if they actually came out of my car? He might keep a collection of cruddy looking car parts for that very purpose.

But, as Bill said as he drove me home after waving goodbye to my bug, “You’ve gotta trust somebody.”

So, two days later, here was my newly-fixed car, awaiting my arrival with a checkbook. Doesn’t it look cute sitting with the grown-ups?….

We’ll talk again in 2,514 miles.

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