I'm feeling a tad nostalgic today.
Our car is in need of servicing and an MOT, the UK's annual inspection / road safety / emissions test that each car must undergo after its a few years old. So I spent the morning calling round to various garages for quotes - it's amazing how varied the quotes were, for the exact same services!!
Normally M handles the car stuff - not because I'm not capable of it, but because he enjoys it and he loves our car. :) The rare occurrence of having anything to do with taking care of the car totally threw me back to my very first car...
I was 17 when I passed my road test. I had taken Drivers' Ed so I was prepared and passed on the first try. I didn't really need to have my own car then since most of my friends were a year older and had already been driving. I always seemed to be able to catch a ride to wherever I needed to go. On the occasions that I did need a vehicle, my mom let me drive her 2nd car. She had two cars, very similar to each other - one was 2-tone gray and the older one was blue. Both were Lincoln Town Cars, of the 1988 and 1989 persuasions. My friends and I dubbed 'mine' the Big Blue Boat because of how enormous it was in comparison to what most other people we knew were driving. Picture this car but a slightly darker blue:
Even in the late 90s, it was a bit vintage. Big Blue had a blue exterior, a dusty blue velour interior, and a trunk so big that you could fit a mini fridge and a keg in, with space left over! Not that I ever did that...
Seriously - that car was amazing! Pure beast, with a huge engine, amazing pickup, and feet and feet of sheer metal in front and behind you when you were driving. You barely felt the speed you were going at, because of all that metal...I felt so safe in that sucker. If anything ever hit me, it was more likely to damage itself off my car than to do anything to me.
When I went off to university for the 2nd year, my mom had just bought herself her dream car (a big, boxy, white Cadillac - do you get the sense of her vehicular style?) so she no longer needed both of the Lincolns. I needed reliable transport for work when I was at school, so she let me take Big Blue away with me. That baby saw me safely to work and school and home that entire year, through horrendous winter storms, and played a major part in my role as Designated Driver for many of my lucky girlfriends. Don't get me wrong - the car was ooooold. It was in great condition for its age, but it leaked oil constantly, so whenever I was home I had to park in a certain spot in the garage, over the cardboard on the ground so the floor wouldn't be stained. I had to check the oil and antifreeze pretty much every time I drove it. And it wasn't cute and little and sporty like what many of my friends drove. But I didn't really care, because it was my faithful Big Blue!
The summer after that year at uni, I was living at home until autumn classes began, and working about an hour's drive into downtown Rochester. There's a section of the 490 Interstate that snakes around and through downtown that tends to get backed up during rush hour - and on this one day in August of that year, I was caught in that traffic. It was nearly 95 degrees outside and sunny, around 5:30 when everyone was trying to get home after work so they could enjoy the sunshine, and there was bumper-to-bumper traffic. We were literally at a standstill. We were all sat that way for a few minutes, and I was singing along with the radio, when all of a sudden Big Blue gave a little lurch, and the engine just....stopped. I sort of looked around, not sure what had happened, but as she had died on me before I just turned off the ignition and then tried to restart the car, which always worked before.
It didn't even ATTEMPT to roll over. There was just....silence. And then...a tiny plume of smoke wafted its way from underneath the gigantic hood of my car. Within seconds, it was much larger. And while I silently went from bewildered to beginning to panic inside the car, I quickly became aware of the noise of horns all around me. Whatever had caused the traffic jam, had just cleared up, and all of a sudden all three lanes of traffic were quickly moving again! Well - that is - the outer two lanes were moving. Everyone in the middle lane was stuck behind my smoking behemoth of a broken vehicle! It seemed like each one of those people stuck in queue behind me was holding their car horn down and yelling. When the first guy careened out of the queue and sped past me - quite dangerously, considering the traffic was really moving in the other lanes - and gave me the finger, I won't lie. I had a total helpless girl moment and started crying! And I did what most 19-year-old girls in that situation would do...I picked up my brand new cell phone (YES, my First Cell Phone Ever features in this story too!), flipped it open (ha!), and dialed home.
Anyone who knows my mom will not be surprised to hear that her reaction to me broken down in the middle of 70mph traffic an hour from home was to say, "What do you expect me to do, Bec?! Why are you calling me?? You should be calling AAA!!" (Obvi she was just worried about me and couldn't do anything to help, but at the time I just got more upset!) I found my card for AAA (an auto recovery membership) buried in my purse, and called them, somehow managing to convey that I needed collection and quickly all while still sobbing hysterically. To their credit, they acted as though it was a completely normal occurrence and promised to have someone there ASAP.
Keep in mind that this whole time I am still getting honked at, and yelled at, and traffic is rushing past me on both sides, causing Big Blue to gently bump and sway periodically. Cars are speeding up to the back of my car going 70mph until they finally realise my hazard lights are on and dart around me into the other lanes of traffic to avoid hitting me. I was worried that my car would explode for some reason, but I couldn't exit the car without the risk of getting hit by another vehicle!!
All of a sudden, two men driving by in the right lane, who as it turns out didn't even know each other, both pulled over onto the shoulder. One acted as traffic cop and stopped cars so the other could run over to my car. One man reached in through the open window and started steering the wheel and the other guy joined him and they both pushed Big Blue (and me!) out of the crazy traffic and onto the side of the motorway. They popped the hood to let some of the heat escape, and offered to call a tow truck for me. They were complete strangers and I was so grateful that they had happened by and helped me!! I don't even know their names...! Randomly, my godmother was driving along the same road then and recognized my car (if you opened the link to pictures you'll know it would have been hard to miss!) and she pulled over behind me, and waited with me for AAA to arrive. She had gorgeous air conditioning, water, snacks, and tissues, and she calmed me down until I was able to have a normal conversation again by the time Big Blue was towed away.
She ended up being irreparable. :( Poor Blue. Apparently I was completely ripped off earlier in the year when I took her in for a repair. I had been hearing funny noises when I was driving so I called my dad - as you do - and as he was four hours away I held the phone up to the engine whilst I did various things so he could hear it and the verdict was a fan belt needed replacing. I took her into the nearest garage and the guy charged me $150 for parts and service - and it turns out he never replaced anything!! Lesson learned - always ask to see the old parts when anything is replaced on your car!!
It was a sad day. I loved that car. Soon after that I had to go and buy a car for the first time. Even though I paid for that next car with my own money, it still never felt like my car the way Big Blue did. Have you ever had that?
Nostalgia aside, today I'm linking up with Anne for Wednesday Wishes! This is my first one and it's a great idea - I see it as a midweek moment to sit and think about what is on my mind, and focus my thoughts. Lately I have been wishing for:
- later 'wake-up' calls from Bug...she was up at 4:30 am again today and even though I rocked her for an hour, she never fell back to sleep. She just kept touching my face and talking to me!
- clarity on what is coming next for us as a family. We are a little in limbo, and I just wish our direction was made clear, so we could make plans one way or the other and get back to living.
- letting go. I feel like I am trying to hold onto everything tightly, and juggle all of the moving parts so nothing slips and nobody is let down. My to-do lists are becoming ridiculous and my normally stellar memory is slipping on tiny little details. I wish to let go of this need to control everything and simply trust that God has everything in hand.
What are you wishing for this week? :)