There came a point when carrying a rubber hammer in my car for whamming on the alternator became embarrassing. There also came a point when getting a ride home from the tow truck driver became ridiculous. That was the point I was at with my navy blue Acclaim. I had always felt a little resentment towards that car because it felt like a sad replacement for the white turbo hatchback Daytona that was my first ride.
That white car with red interior called my name the first time I saw it. It felt comfortable to drive and it felt fashionable. I loved that sleek vehicle that was my first car. There was nothing like cruising the highway with the window down and the radio blaring. I’m sure that I must have set a record with that little car though, shortest time to own a new car.
I was flying down the highway, minding the speed limit. I had the radio blaring and I was singing along to Pink’s Private Show, and I was watching the intersection I was approaching. It was an uncontrolled 3 way intersection and it was crowded with vehicles waiting to turn left across oncoming traffic as well as vehicles waiting to turn left onto the highway. All vehicles were waiting for me and the cars in my pack to pass by. I didn’t even see it coming. A vehicle waiting to turn onto the highway cut out and rammed into the side of my precious car.
It hit me hard. I actually broke the steering wheel in my hands with the terrified grasp I had on it. My car started into a spin, I could feel it bumping and grating over the pavement. I glimpsed oncoming traffic that had been behind me, the section of road where the other driver had pulled out from, and around again as the other side of my car slammed into something causing me to ping pong around in my seat. The seatbelt dug hard into my chest in its effort to restrain the forced movements of my body. Then
all motion stopped.
I struggled briefly for breath and I assessed myself. My heart was hammering in my ears. My brain was fighting waves of anger and waves of relief. I didn’t feel much else. I was in the middle of the highway facing the direction I had been traveling from. My car had spin into a vehicle in the turning lane while it was waiting to turn off the highway. I leapt out and ran to that car to make sure that the occupants were okay. That’s when I noticed the vehicle that hit me. He was sitting in his car watching everything, he never once got out to see if any of us were okay. He also moved his vehicle and tried to pin the fault on me. Perhaps because of my young age it seemed an easy win for him, but there was a witness that wasn’t involved in the collision and he stayed to make sure he provided his account of what had occurred.
Anyway, no injuries was a blessing. The cop that took my statement told me I was lucky to be alive, every fibre of my being believed him. My Daytona didn’t fare as well and she left my life forever in one fleeting second. However, if I was going to get to University and work I needed a new vehicle and I needed it fast. That was how big blue came into my life.
Big blue was a good car and I knew I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, I took possession of the Acclaim within a week of the collision. Yet, it was so anticlimactic. Blue just didn’t have the same pizzazz and flair. Whether big blue could sense my disappointment or not I didn’t know, but it certainly seemed that way when thing after thing started to go wrong. For two years I battled with her blue demons. Anyway, it was decided in my mind that I needed a new car and not a new-to-me car but a new car.
However, I wasn’t buying another used car only to sink money into it repeatedly to keep it to functioning. Everything relied on the car functioning because if I couldn’t get to school I couldn’t get to my end goal, and if I couldn’t get to work I couldn’t pay my bills or buy my school supplies which again crumbled my end goal. The intelligent decision for me was something reliable and warrantied.
I started the footwork of car shopping. Toyota, Chev, and Ford all received visits from me. In the end what sold the car was a sales man that treated twenty-three year old me as a customer. He allowed me to test drive the car for the day.
At twenty-three with zero credit I hadn’t failed to notice that I might not be qualified to purchase a car, at least without a co-signer. I thought my only option was my dad. So, I drove the sparkly blue metallic Ford Focus right to his front door and pleaded my case. I felt engulfed in feeling: excitement, fulfillment, and eagerness.
I often wondered what it was in myself that seemed to enjoy setting myself up for a fall. Within minutes of approaching dad I felt all those wonderful good feelings begin to die as I was submersed in attempts to be controlled. It was like reliving my University plea for help all over again, only this time it was “if you buy a Chevrolet I will co-sign, but I won’t co-sign for a Ford.”
From that day forward dad drove Chev, and I drove Ford. It became a companionably joke, but that day I would have happily run him over. I drove away after a fast excuse
about having to return from the test drive, and I barely got out of sight before the tears sprang free. A sense of hopelessness flooded me.
The car and I had bonded though and it wanted to come home with me as much as I wanted to take it home. I arrived back at the dealership determined and firmly back on track. I was approved for the financing on my own, no co-signer. I embraced this new responsibility. Three part-time jobs and the label student, but I could proudly add owner of a 2002 Ford Focus to the list.
The car had a little photo shoot when I first brought it home. It was a beautiful sunny warm July day, and the metallic sparkled brilliantly under the sun. The chrome package on the car also caught the light; that was the first time I was appreciative of that feature. The new car smell was so novel to me I was loath to think it would fade away in time. I stood back to admire my achievement and enjoyed the short rounded front end and the
tiny flat back. I was happy with a regular trunk and no hatchback. Tint windows would have been nice, but not a necessity. The stereo was deafening and the interior colour suited me fine in tones of grey.
I was back to cruising down the highway with the radio blaring and not feeling like I need to slide out of sight behind the steering wheel. I also retired the rubber hammer!
By Shari Marshall – 2019