I’m not very knowledgeable about things when it comes to cars. I didn’t get my license till I was 18 and never was in a hurry to drive myself around. (That was what boys were for.) I tend to identify cars roughly by their shape and color. In college my friend Justin had a gray station wagon, and whenever I saw a blue station wagon I’d shout, “Oh look! It’s Justin!” Although, come to think of it, it could have been a blue station wagon that I mistook for a gray one. I still can’t get it right. Either way, I saw that car on a near-daily basis and I had a hard time identifying it.
We’ve been lucky enough to inherit cars passed down from members of the family, meaning we’ve had some nice (and terrible) cars and haven’t been burdened with a car payment. The trade off is that most of the time we’ve been driving either Buicks or Colts or Geos, nothing impressive, but it gets us from point A to point B. And since I’ve been spoiled with Buicks I’ve luxuriated in legroom and trunk space.
The nice thing about Buicks is that they were created for an older demographic, so the entire car is designed for ease of use. Everything is automatic, even the lights. After all these years I am sick of making 15-point turns to park or change direction, but those Buicks have been good to me, especially now that we have a baby. Those cars are solid.
For about two years Anthony and I were a one-car household. Our second Buick died and we didn’t have the money to replace it, so he dropped me off at work in the morning and a rotation of various friends drove me home. It was frustrating but we got used to it. After Isobel came along it became apparent that we needed two cars again. A friend of ours had an old car they wanted to get rid of so we bought it just to get by for the timebeing. It was widely known to be a huge piece of crap, but we bought it for cheap and we knew it wouldn’t last. It made the most peculiar noise when it was running, and if I had to describe it to someone I’d say it reminded me of the time I got a spoon caught in the garbage disposal. We also sometimes referred to it as the “rock tumbler,” but most of the time we defaulted to “the white car.”
In fact, I could never remember the make an model of the car, so when Anthony asked me to make a folder for it in the filing cabinet, I labeled it “white car.”
When Anthony had to drive out of town he’d take the Buick and leave the white car for me because, well, obviously. I’m pretty sure it would fall apart if it had to reach speeds of, I don’t know, 40 mph. I became so spoiled by driving the Buicks that this car took a little getting used to. I drove all the way to work without my lights on the first time I had it. The lights in the Buick go on automatically. I thought the drive was darker than usual, but then again I’ve often boasted I know the route to work so well I could do it in the dark. Which I proved I could do… accidentally. I only realized I’d never turned them on when a coworker yelled at me. The next day I was sure to turn my lights on, but when I parked at work I forgot to turn them off. The Buick does that automatically, too! I took my key from the ignition and the car started making this terrible beeping noise. I look around but I don’t see anything wrong. “What I horrible noise!” I thought as I start ed to walk away. Good thing I looked back and noticed my lights still on or I would have had to get a jump to get home.
As you can see in the photos, the car interior was as jacked up as its engine. Isobel grabbed on to the ripped bits of ceiling upholstery at one point and pulled a large chunk down. The door handle on the passenger side was broken, and, if you remember from a few months ago, the other door handle exploded in my face. When it failed to pass smog a few weeks ago, it languished in our driveway. Anthony had a company car by then, and it was only useful for keeping the rain off the neighborhood cat, Sprinkles.
(Actually we don’t know what this cat’s name is. But we call her Sprinkles. She’s very friendly.)
The white car is no longer ours, however. A few weeks ago we donated it to NPR, a process that was so simple and easy we’d do it again in a heartbeat. I’m grateful that we had it when we needed it, and now I’m grateful it’s gone.