I know it’s silly, but today we said good-bye to our 1998 Volswagen Jetta TDI. Western PA winters have destroyed it. For those of you who don’t know what that means, our roads are kept “clear” through snow, sleet, and ice by plowing and the use of a saline solution, aka salt. If you’ve ever seen metal corrode in the salty coastal air, or the corrosion on you salt shaker, imagine that on a larger scale on the underside of a car.
Many people who don’t experience this sort of winter weather management have an entirely different view of rust. This type of rust can’t be contained or halted with some putty or paint. We often try, and we prolonged the inevitable as long as possible. But those of us who experience this type of rust often liken it to an automobile’s form of cancer. It slowly eats away at the good parts until the car can no longer function; the frame becomes fragile and corroded like Swiss cheese; moving parts start moving where they shouldn’t and seize up where they should move; cables disintegrate.
And that’s what happened to our car, the “Jedi” (yes, we often name our cars). We had the Jedi for 15 years and around 200,000 miles. It’s been across the state countless times, to Maine, the Jersey Shore, North Carolina, Toledo, Chicago, Wisconsin, and Minnesota- some of these locations, multiple times. We’ve hauled countless, and often improbable, amounts of stuff in that car. The Jasmanian Devil has permanently dog-snotted the windows.
It drove me crazy at times; like when the driver’s door latch would freeze and you couldn’t get in or out through that door. This was a huge problem for me, as it would happen in winter, when I was in multiple layers of clothes, a winter coat, and big bulky winter boots. Imagine the kid from ” A Christmas Story” trying to climb over a seat, an emergency brake, and a shifter in a smaller sedan while bundled like that. I didn’t find it nearly as comical as it probably was. Because the solution was taking the door off of the car and rebuilding the latching mechanism, it was difficult to convince The Goat that this was a major issue for me. I think he finally understood just how much of a problem this was when it (finally!) happened to him and when I told him the story about the time my Mom, hating a car that was causing problems, stopped at a dealership on her way home from work and traded the problem car for a new one. At the time of the latch problems, I passed about 4 car dealers on my way to work.
And then there were the flats! The rust on the rims wouldn’t allow the tires to seal well, and I would have to check air pressure every few days until we could get the rims fixed. Even as the tow truck was loading it up today, The a Goat had to air up a tire so it could make the trip. And notice I said rims – it happened on different occasions to different wheels. Did I mention the rust problem yet?
But 15 freakin’ years! Yes it gave us problems, but what machine doesn’t over it’s useful lifetime?
Yes, it’s silly to to get attached to car, but many of us often do. I realize that cars are material possessions, and some people value others based on there material possessions. I try not to fall into this trap, and I, personally, view cars as tools, so I have a hard time understanding the attachment some people have to their cars. However, in many instances, I think it’s more often an attachment to the memories made through the car than a love of the car itself.
Sure, we often choose our cars based on some physical characteristic – power of the engine, steering and handling, MPG, cargo space, or even color. But over time I think those traits morph into memories that are enabled by the very traits we used to pick the car. For example, we chose the Jedi based on MPG and cargo space. It was that very cargo space that was often utilized on our trips, even the shorter, local trips. I think the record was 12 unicycles, 3 people, and luggage for a week for those 3 people. The Jasmanian Devil spent many trips slobbering up the windows – for the record, dogs in cones don’t travel well in any car. We’ve hauled bikes, lumber, shelving, spinning wheels, and so much more in that car.
I’m sad to see our car go. I’m not going to miss the hassles of owning a klunker, but I am going to miss the car because what was a tangible reminder and a symbol of everything that had happened over the past 15 years, both the good and the bad, is no longer parked in front of our house. I guess sometimes it is ok to get sentimental over something as silly as a car, because sometimes, like the people who are constants in out lives, there are occasionally material possessions that are also tied to our memories because of their consistency. But sometimes, we need to let those material possessions go, and that is ok.
Goodbye, my old metal machine. You will be missed because you were a part of so many memories.