Sparks From Over The Hill


I made up my mind years ago that I’d probably never own a new car. It’s not that I would mind flaunting its perks as I drive around, but the final answer for the math behind a new vehicle purchase is too impractical for my style, even if I could afford one.
My first car was handed down to me when my grandmother quit driving. Perfect timing. A metallic gold Cutlass of the late ’60s, it had more zip under the hood than a young, inexperienced driver needed, but I enjoyed having it during my last two years in college.
What surprises me now is, the times I appreciate most in that car aren’t things I did with friends on campus or in the surrounding college town. I remember best the hours I spent alone, driving to and from school. The just-over-an-hour drive afforded some personal space to think, take in the countryside, marvel at the sunrise (when I made a point to embark early), and, occasionally, take a road I’d never traveled and find out where it went.
Since those days, I’ve often wished that I wasn’t dependent on a car to meet the demands of today’s schedules. If I lived in a city, I might not have to be, but that would no doubt lead to a different set of problems even more distasteful to me. Still, the maintenance required in having a car – old or new – brings with it a bit of stress that’s always looming slightly beyond my comprehension.
On a Friday afternoon, I pulled my van into our drive and was surprised to see my brother’s old pick-up already parked there. He was about to leave me a note that he’d missed me.
“What’s that noise?” he questioned loudly to carry above my engine. I let it run. I hadn’t noticed any new noise from inside. “Pop your hood,” he commanded. I pulled the release and crawled out to stare underneath with him. “Something’s wrong with this belt; or maybe a bearing is going bad.” His words bordered on the mysterious foreign language of vehicle mechanics. I shut off the van as dollar signs floated through my head.
Rather than call my service garage of choice during a weekend, on Monday, while I was out doing errands, I pulled into Columbiana Motors in person to get on their schedule.
“We’ll pull it in and take a look, “manager Chuck directed. I hadn’t expected immediate service, but if something was wrong – why wait? No sense risking a breakdown. I gave them the keys.
We were soon pricing the parts I’d need. It was a late night for them. They’d likely have it done before I needed it for my meeting at 7:30. Just in case, Chuck offered me a white, Cavalier sedan painted with company info and detailed with sporty decal stripe to drive home. I found out why granny loves her sporty little car. After years of chauffeuring teens around in a minivan, it gives a gal a whole new lease on life.
The call came too soon, after only 90 minutes or so, that my van had a new water pump and belt and was ready for pickup. I would have to return to my minivan life, but I was taking with me that spark that I’d felt driving the perky little sedan. As it smolders within me, I’ll frivolously wave off the potential stress of owning another car. Keep me from the car lots. Those sporty little jobs are calling out to me.


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