This is a requiem. And a welcome.
It’s not often you find someone you can rely on. Someone who will see you through thick and thin, ups and downs, ins and outs, winter, spring, summer and fall, all you gotta do is call. (A little James Taylor riff here) For 15 years, this Friend was my little 1998 Honda Civic.
It wasn’t much, as cars go. The biggest improvement it had over my previous wheels was an intermittent windshield wiper. The windows needed to be cranked, the key used to get in and start it, the locks engaged when I pushed them down. And it had a tape player that handled the audio versions of all seven books of the Harry Potter series a few years ago. And it was a stick shift.
I never got a speeding ticket in that car. I guess it never attracted the law’s attention as, say, a red Corvette. And there were only two minor accidents to the body, not the inner workings. Hey, I even had the same license plate for all 15 years!
One of the Honda’s first passengers was my mom. I think we went to Ted’s Hot Dogs in Buffalo. It was one of Mom’s favorite spots. She liked the car and must have blessed it with a taste of her own longevity. They both had a lot in common with the Energizer Bunny. Mom passed away that fall at the age of 97; the car just kept going and going.
A few weeks ago, however, upon my return from the Northwest, I got in my car and turned the key. There was this horrible screeching sound and stinky white smoke erupted from the tailpipe. It settled down and I almost took it on my errand when I noticed the battery light on. That seemed ominous, so I decided not to chance it. When I talked with our car guys, they said it was probably the alternator belt. And it was, along with what I suspected were some brake issues. I’d been pouring some serious cash into repairs during the past year, so despite the fact that it only had 130,000 miles and still got over 30 mpg fuel, I decided the time had come to get something more reliable and went shopping. Of course, my first choice was a Honda Civic.
I don’t know what I expected a 2013 Honda Civic to be like, but it wasn’t what I faced when I got in one to take a test drive. The dashboard lit up like Cedar Point on the summer night. Lucky I had my sunglasses on. In those fifteen years, things had changed a bit. Talk about bells and whistles—and they’re all standard. I drove, I liked, I got. Like my old car, it’s a stick shift and a good thing it is, too. It gives me something to do. I hope it has the same staying power.
Someone else saw the good in my old car, though, and snapped it up. He’s a car mechanic and I’ve no doubt will keep my old friend going another fifteen years. It may be gone, but will never be forgotten.