Wednesday, October 9, 2013
In which Maddy donates her car....
She sighed. "I'm donating Scaramouche to the local fire department. They're coming to pick her up today or tomorrow."
"Scaramouche? The little black car?" Well, not so "little." I think that Saturn is about three inches longer than the infamous Red October.
She nodded. "I'm not sure I feel so good about it."
"But they'll use it for training, won't they? Like in saving lives?"
"Well, yeah, but - you know me. If something breaks, you don't toss it, you fix it. But the transmission is pretty much shot and even if I could spare the money to fix it, they don't make them anymore - and haven't for years - so there's the problem of parts. Plus, it's eleven years old with 103,000-something miles and really - it doesn't run all that well anymore even without the transmission. The handling's shot, too."
"It was that or t-bone the trailer of the landscaping truck that had just cut me off. I didn't have a whole lot of choices to work with right then. But yes, it was. I bet Sears really regretted that $74.95 flat-rate alignment special after they had to spend four hours realigning it. It was so far off that I had to hold the wheel in almost the four-o-clock position to drive straight. I destroyed a new set of tires in less than three weeks."
And yes, that car looks almost new. Unlike her father, she can be trusted to take care of nice things like cars.
"They call those suicide doors. Don't ask me why," Maddy said. "I couldn't open it in a parking lot without someone coming over and saying how freaking awesome it was."
"Was this your first car?"
"No, my first was a little Geo Storm. Bright turquoise. I always used to describe it as blue, but then everyone would look at me funny and tell me it was green. So I finally just started saying turquoise. That one was eventually sideswiped by a huge Suburban and totalled. Took out the entire drivers' side. I walked away without even a scratch. I ended up getting almost three times the Blue Book value for an eight-year-old car just because I'd taken care of it. I got Scaramouche three days later."
"What were they? A different kind of car, a different kind of company?"
"That's it. I remember when I picked her up, the sales rep actually spent about half an hour with me showing me where everything was under the hood and where all the controls were and all. That was nice. They even had a bunch of balloons tied to the antenna and a big red bow around the rearview mirror. I got to keep the balloons, too. It was actually kind of fun. They made a big deal out of it - in a good way. I kind of felt like a little kid with my first grown-up toy. For 2001, she had a lot of really nice features - and a lot of power. I very quickly learned not to floor the accelerator going up the hill unless I wanted to be doing ninety." (For the record, the "hill" is a just-over 1,000 foot tall mountain that's part of the extreme southern Taconic range. We're about nine hundred feet up it. And no, we don't have a view of much of anything except trees, trees, trees and the house next door.) "She also had cup holders."
"Since when are cup holders an optional feature?" For me, they're seating. I'd call that required.
"The Storm didn't have them. It made trying to get lunch back to work kind of interesting in the bad sense if I had a drink cup. Storms were about the same size as the smallest Mini Coopers. They did have some amount of cargo room, though. I managed to fit thirty twenty-two inch pizzas into mine once. Of course, this meant pizzas in the back piled to the roof, pizzas on the front seat and pizzas on the floor. And did I mention it was way below freezing that day? And these were hot and steaming right out of the oven? It took about five seconds for the windows to fog over like - uh - well, something else was going on. It was a good thing I only had to go back across the street, because by the time I got back on the IBM site, I had my head out the window trying to see where I was going. Then, when I got them back, me and the manager who'd ordered them for his all-hands meeting got busted by the cafeteria manager trying to sneak them in. We weren't supposed to use "outside food vendors" for anything on site - but the cafeteria, well - sucked. The next day a nastygram went out to the entire site reminding everyone of the policy. A very nasty gram."
"So how did you end up with two, then?" I looked at Red.
"I inherited my father's Saturn Vue after he died. That Vue was - well, ugly. And a piece of crap. And it had his bad mojo, because something was always going wrong with it. I traded it in for Red and never looked back. Of course, at the time Scaramouche was still more or less running, so I thought I'd keep her, too. But now - oh well." She sighed. "I always thought I'd put a million miles on that car. I wanted to set the record for the most mileage on a single vehicle."