My daughter Beth may be horrified by this math, but she’s driven a vehicle upwards of thirty years. She’s owned Grumbelly, the VW bus, a little red Dodge Colt, a red pickup, a red Dodge Neon, and a Subaru wagon. If you discount Grumbelly and the pickup, both of which she had for a couple of years, but for very different reasons, she’s pretty easy on cars. Especially as none of these came to her new. Excepting possibly the truck, which had to go. When you are young and have a lot of friends, and own a truck, you too frequently are pressed into moving your friends from one housing situation to another.
Grumbelly and the Subaru were not red. All the cars had standard transmissions in common. The little red Dodge Colt she learned on was a stick. Mine. She backed it right into a tree first time out. In fact, I turned all driving lessons over to my brother. When I finally got into a car with her, she was a good driver. She gives me all the credit.
I believe the little red Neon gave way to the Subaru right around the new millennium. Beth bought the restaurant/wine bar about then, and the Neon not only was past any legal limit of miles, its trunk was mighty inconvenient for loading and unloading cases of wine.
First came a growing restaurant and catering business, then love, then marriage, and then Beth and Bill with the baby carriage. Dad’s Toyota looked really nice in the drive way, but Mom’s Subaru was the day-in, day-out go to. Hauling restaurant supplies. Taking kids to and from school every day. Family vacations. It was the epitome of the family car. Crayon on the seats. Drink stains on the floor. Stickers on every square inch of the back seat windows. Not “Baby on Board.” We’re talking smiley faces, Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Square Bob. All those gooberie little circles and squares that are distributed to children. I confess to passing along a few myself, and am amazed at the forbearance of the parents. I could not have tolerated that mess all over my back seat windows.
Beth failed her Subaru recently. At its regular check up, her trusty mechanic said she was around 190,000 miles; time for a new, preventative maintenance, timing belt. OK, next oil change, said the busy mom, restaurant owner and caterer. And on a lovely Saturday morning, loaded with a wedding reception in the next county, the Subaru died of terminal timing belt failure. Fortunately the rest of her crew was following her, redistributed the contents, and pulled off the wedding reception without missing a beat, while her trusty mechanic sent a tow truck and took Subaru to the garage.
What to do? A new standard transmission Subaru was out of the pricing question, and owners of older standard transmission Subaru’s don’t turn them in often. Then she found one and sent me a link to the picture at the dealer. What did I think?
I advised her to go for it; there was just one sticker in the window.
She told me Caroline was disappointed; she had wondered how long some of her favorite stickers would last. “Until last Saturday, Caroline.”