I have what some would call an unhealthy, irrational, emotional attachment to my car. Most people don’t understand my love for him but they don’t know what we’ve been through. His name is Eddie the VIbe, Eddie for short, and he’s the best car anyone has ever had.
He’s a salsa red 2003 Pontiac Vibe and came with the moons and tunes package. I bought him brand new and we spent a glorious 14 years and 276,000 miles together.
I was just about to start school at the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts in Southfield, Michigan and I needed something to get me to and from our little town 49 miles North of school. I was upgrading. I spent the last two years, my only driving years at the time, in a 1991 Geo Tracker, affectionately known as Tracker Smacker. It was the car my dad had me drive because it was 4 wheel drive and light enough for a couple of football players to carry it out of a ditch if need be. He also taught me how to drive a stick in that car. Well, he tried, but that’s another story for later.
I once asked my dad, in the middle of a complete meltdown, fit for a true 16 year old drama queen why I had to learn how to drive a stupid stick anyway! His response stuck with me all these years and is a lesson I will pass down to my own kids.
“What if you’re out with some idiot boy who tries to do something stupid. How will you steal his car and leave him for dead if he’s driving a manual and you don’t know how?”
Touché, Daddy, Touché.
As much as it pained me, the Tracker Smacker was not a good car for a daily Detroit commute. I needed something safe with good gas mileage. Enter Eddie.
The above isn’t MY Eddie. Obviously, he’s much better than that picture. But I’m new to blogging and I can’t figure it out. Just go with it.
The gas mileage and safety thing were of the greatest importance…. to my father. My list of needs was something along the lines of, it has a moonroof? Look at all these cupholders!!!!!! IT HAS A REAL OUTLET IN IT!!!! SOLD
Except being 18 and having exactly zero credit, it wasn’t sold until I had a co-signer. Enter an Uncle who happened to work for GM, could get me the family discount and had a credit score higher than zero! Bam, now SOLD!
I pulled out of the parking lot and my dad, sitting shotgun, congratulated me by giving me a tire pressure gauge and announcing, “Congratulations, you just lost $10,000 by driving 15 feet!”
It was fine with me. Instantly, I knew Eddie and I were meant to be. We went on camping trips where I didn’t need a tent because I slept in the back, totally comfortably. I took cross country road trips, with friends and a cat in that car. I don’t recommend taking a cat. I curled my hair in that car! Checked out grad schools with my best friend in that car. Piled tons of video equipment in that car. I got tickets in that car. I talked myself out of way too many tickets in that car. I laughed until I cried in that car. I also cried until I laughed in that car.
During one of the toughest parts of my life, when I didn’t know what would happen the next day, where I was living, which way was up, or who I could count on, I knew Eddie always had my back. No matter what was going on in my life, I had an exit plan, a safe place, something that was reliable and never let me down.
I also didn’t expect to keep a car so long, so I had a couple of babies with that car. Eddie handled it like a champ. The back hatch suddenly full of baby gear and his back seats always covered with something sticky, and eventually, melted crayon. He got used to having the back used as anything from a changing table to a seat at a soccer game.
Sweet Eddie never did complain but he did start to show his age a little bit. Nothing major, just a few small bumps and bruises. Small things really, if you didn’t look hard, you wouldn’t notice. Scrapes, peeling paint, check engine lights, headlights that would flicker if you hit too big of a bump, a window that would pop when it put it down, you know little things. I mean so what if he leaked. It only happened when it would rain or go through an automatic car wash.
If I was being totally honest, maybe some people who didn’t drive him would notice some things that were slightly amiss. But really, why does a muffler have to be completely attached anyway? He made an entrance! Other people were just jealous, with their quiet, personality-less, boring vehicles.
Everything was going just fine with us, Eddie and me. Sure, he was old and tired but he was still strong! One mechanic told me that he’s seen cars go 350,000 miles before! Same guy told me that Eddie was, and I quote, “Unbelievable!” We were ready to pack up and leave Charleston. Eddie would, of course, get loaded on a truck and shipped out to Texas. It was a long drive. He had paid his dues, he deserved a ride on a flat bed truck no matter the cost. The Man with a Plan agreed. I like to think it’s because he knows the love I have for Eddie but I think the fact that his company agreed to pay for it helped. But only slightly.
Eddie getting loaded up with the rest of the luxury vehicles ready to be carried to Texas. The driver looks a bit nervous, weird.
Then we got some terrible news.
Texas requires a vehicle inspection.
Eddie and I began our relationship in Michigan, the motor state! Then, we moved to South Carolina. Neither state requires an inspection. I wasn’t nervous though, Eddie would pass with flying colors!!!
Turns out, he did not. Apparently, Texas doesn’t take emotional value into it’s inspection, which is just rude. Also, they require the catalytic converter to be attached on both side, again, rude.
The inspector gave me a rough estimate of around $1,000 to get Eddie up to code. There was hope! $1,000 is way less than a new car! I went home and told the Man with a Plan the excellent news!
He wasn’t as excited. He tried to explained that Eddie needed some other work done included new tires. He used all sorts of logic, math and other types of black magic to explain why retiring Eddie would be the best move financially. CarMax would give us $250 for him. $250?! $250?! Clearly they forgot a zero. I asked the Man with a Plan if they included the emotional value when they did the quote. They did not. Because they’re also quite rude.
I handled the news like any normal, rational, full grown adult would. I got angry. How dare they? Do they not know what we’ve been through? Do they not care that we have been together for 14 years? Did they know that he was only in one small accident because tourist drivers in Charleston suck? Do they not take into account the fact that while yes the radio sometimes goes out, it totally comes back on once you hit the top of the dashboard???
Turns out, they do not. No one does. Once again the Man with the Plan took his time patiently explaining that it was time. We had to let Eddie go. The more he used numbers and logic, the deeper my heels dug in. I would not get rid of him. We would fix him, get him new tires and get him up to code no matter the cost!!! That was final, I was putting my foot down, decision made. I had defeated the Man with the Plan’s logic with my pure emotion and temper.
My sweet husband agreed. We could fix him! Keep him forever if we wanted to! He told me he understood and wouldn’t force me to do anything I didn’t want to. It was my decision, and my decision was final. I had done it! He asked if he could just say one more thing about it and he would never ask me to abandon Eddie ever again. I agreed, because I am a gracious winner.
“I just want to point out that even if we waste, I mean, spend all the money to fix Eddie up to code, he’s getting to the point where it’s no longer safe to drive the kids around in the Vibe…. Let me know when you decide what new vehicle you want.”
He had me, he knew it. He was right. And while he’s normally what I call a “sore winner” he just let it go. There was no bragging, no I told you so. Just a quiet exit with sympathetic eyes. Which just made it more annoying. The day had come. I knew I had to say goodbye.
All I had to do was find another car to fall in love with but that’s a story for later.