Letterwerks Sign City
"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
Online Edition
Friday, December 9th, 2016
Volume ∞ Issue ∞

Jade & the Eggplant

Fri, Oct 18th, 2013
Posted in All Commentary

The dreaded “W” word approaching. The days are getting shorter, colder, and soon the ground will be white with that other four letter “S” word that often goes along with the aforementioned “W” word. This year, more than years previous, I find myself particularly focusing on a “C” word before the “S” word and the ‘W” word: cars.

Between my wife and I, our cars are 36 years old. That’s older than either of us. My car is 15, only one year away from taking her down to the DMV to get a license so she can drive… herself. My wife’s trusty minivan, on the other hand, recently turned 21, and the joke we have between my wife and I is that we’ll crack open a beer over her hood in celebration. My wife’s car, originally her grandmother’s, has rolled over the fabled 200,000 miles, something I’ve never even seen a car do before, and my own little sedan has already topped 170,000, something I never thought she’d see when I was neglecting her maintenance in college. Needless to say, something’s got to give, and with this year’s winter (I said it!) forecasted to be a real humdinger, I fear it’s either going to be my Jade, or my wife’s 1993 Plymouth Eggplant.

And so, on the horizon dawns the unpleasant: not only will I most likely say goodbye to the car I received as a high school graduation present (and, despite her warts, I’ve grown to love her) but I’ll also have to take on the new difficulty of getting a different car. Now I know some people that, to them, buying a car is no great shakes. Need a car? Buy it. Custom order it, even. In my time living in Chicagoland, I worked with people who had Maybachs and Ferraris they would only park to hop onto their 60 foot yachts. Unfortunately, for myself and a lot of people I know, a new car (or even purchasing a used one) can completely throw off the financial balance of their student-loan saturated, part-time-waging households.

When it comes to the situation inside my rented little bungalow, it’s a hydra of financial responsibility for my family, a three-headed monster of house-car-baby. Which will come first? As it stands, there’s probably going to be a trip in my future. Whether it’s Zumbrota or Winona to trade her in, or to the Big Auto Recycler in the sky, I don’t expect my little Ford to make it another year. This, of course, opens up all sorts of new questions: do I just trade in for a cheap little rustbucket to get me down the road? Do I bite the bullet and lease something new, even if it seems the economy could implode any day now? Do I go really out there and experiment with a hybrid, or a plug-in, to offset the cost with lower fuel bills? Do I throw out a Hail Mary and gamble on one of the newly-minted econo-car marques like Elio, who are dangling an $8,000, 84 mpg three wheeler out there like such low hanging fruit? The choices are many and, in volatile times like these, a lot trickier than simply hitting up Otis down at the local Packard shop to do you a solid…but such is the world we live in now.

The bright days of my teenage years where I would devour Motor Trend Magazines and dream of turbocharged Subaru rally cars and 4x4 trail-busting pickup trucks are gone now, seemingly forever. Maybe it’s just part of this long and protracted form of growing up my generation is being drip fed like asparagus juice crossed with battery acid. Still, it would be nice if something like this could come a little easier as I re-re-re-tape up the driver’s side window of old Jade to make sure I won’t freeze driving into winter this year. Until then, expect me to be slowing down a little bit every time I pass a “lawn car” on Highway 52: checking out the mileage, or the MPG, just to see if maybe I should give the guy a call. After all, nothing lasts forever, not even a rusty, trusty old American-made Ford.

No Comments Yet. Be the first to comment!

Your comment submission is also an acknowledgement that this information may be reprinted in other formats such as the newspaper.