My New Car

carShortly after pothole season, my eight year old Civic began making expensive noises.

It started with an angry metallic buzz, like the sound of an ill-mannered cicada. Over time it got worse.

I wasn’t concerned because disturbing sounds are often engineered into critical components. The designers do this to draw your attention to failing parts. It’s their way of saying, “hey buddy, start saving because this one is going to cost you.”

So I started saving.

A week later something went clunk when I bounced over a speed-bump. Again I didn’t worry. I usually don’t mind clunks – but this one emanated from a region not associated with clunks.

Next came a wobble or was it a lurch? I will let you decide. Name the sensation you get while running on wet grass in a loose pair of shoes.

Whatever you call it, a flutter, a flounder, a wiggle, a waggle, a wobble or a weave, it is still not something you want to experience while taking a curve at 65 mph.

Finally all of these woes: buzz, clunk, flutter, flounder, wiggle, waggle, wobble and weave, united into one unholy harmony – the kind of tune that only VISA would enjoy.

This was going to set me back.

I figured the buzz would cost $500 at minimum. I pegged the clunk at a cool $1,000. A wobble or a weave tops $1,200 easy. After adding it all up, the bottom line was a sum too close to the trade-in value of my Civic to not simply trade it in.

Which is what I did. I got a new car.

How exciting!

My wife got excited. The receptionist at the car lot got excited. The sales rep got excited. Her manager got excited. The finance guy got excited. Everyone got excited but me because new things and especially new cars do not excite me.

Sure… New cars are clean, shiny and flawless. They are as fresh and full of promise as a clean sheet of paper. But I am suspicious of promises, especially new ones.  In the past, other new things have promised me that life would always be fresh, clean, shiny and flawless – for all time.

Life is never so kind.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not stuck on old things. It is just that old things have a history to know them by whereas new things only offer promises.

Take my old Civic.

The front bumper wears a permanent snarl from the time I clipped a deer – but during those frantic moments that car took me safely into and out of a ditch.

The right rear quarter panel was crumpled when a drunk ran a stop-sign but again the Civic saved me.

Coffee stains the carpets and bagel crumbs fill the cracks in the seats like grout. A lot of me and my family remains in that car, but now its history belongs to someone else and they will live with our ghosts until time sets them free.

The Civic and I had a few last moment together.

The two cars, old and new, rested side by side in the parking lot while the sales rep and I exchanged keys. I thought of saying good-bye but with the rep as excited as she was, I thought better of it.

That Civic looked so sad, so worn, so tired, so abandoned.

I wanted to tell it not to worry. I wanted to reassure it that everything would be okay but I thought better of it.  I know that car too well and I know it is just as untrusting of promises as I.

Author: Almost Iowa

26 thoughts on “My New Car”

    1. Around here, the holes remain around all year but officials only allow us to concern ourselves with them during certain seasons.

      It is easier and cheaper to control language and thoughts than it is to repair roads.

  1. Good piece. Reminds me of the ones I have had to say goodbye to. Since you are planning on retiring soon and using your time writing, I have a piece of advice for you. You will need structure. Otherwise the time gets away from you and you don’t know where it went. If you plan on writing a lot, then you’ll need to schedule your writing as you would a job. Good luck with the new car, and the truck.

              1. “I think Greg’s just about to buy that little engine”

                It’s a big decision. Does a guy go with the Farmall A Series or C Series? I am leaning toward the C. It’s a classic, built in 1947 and still runs like a champ.

  2. Sad. The thought of a new car fills me fear of new unrecognized clunks clicks and clatters. I’m clinging to the old and hoping those strange squeals are just signs of affection.

    1. My wife is of the same mind. She keeps me around even though I am beginning to make grunting and groaning sounds.

      I tell her that if she wants to trade me in, it’s fine with me – as long as I get to pick out my replacement.

  3. Hopefully some of your mates will land here on WP. Noting the comment above mine, I’m glad to hear you will spend more time writing. I do enjoy your contributions.

    1. Hopefully we will be seeing more of the Writing Essentials crowd here. I am working on a WordPress site for their weekly writing challenges. Everyone will be welcome.

  4. “Name the sensation you get while running on wet grass in a loose pair of shoes.” Would that be the sensation just before or just after you land flat on your keister? Great piece, by the way! Happy new car. (and thanks for the follow, too!)

    1. Having landed there often, I know the sensation well.

      I am glad you stopped by, I need to get plugged into the WordPress community. I used to post on It was a great place, full of talented writers who flowed in because of its affiliation with public radio – but alas, the site is in its death-throes and the community is scattering to the wind.

    1. I am thinking about getting an old truck. I retire in July, so I won’t be driving back to the Twin Cities on weekends. Instead my only trips will be to the lumber yard. I plan to build another man-cave in my pole-barn.

      I just found out today that the only option for internet out here is satellite (which comes with a 10G monthly data cap). It doesn’t bother me. Maybe I will spend more time writing and less time reading the internet then.

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