Thursday, August 2, 2012

A clunker is a clunker is a clunker


            I need a new car. I have needed a new car for a few years. I needed a new car when I bought my old car which had belonged to my father and was already his old car.

            Because my three-owner, 2000 minivan averaged 19 miles a gallon, instead of 18, it wasn’t qualified to be a clunker during the governments’ clunker program a few years back. It looked like a clunker, sounded like one, got lousy mileage and yet it was considered an ecologically fit vehicle; how ludicrous is that? Now it’s so unfit I don’t buy ice cream when I go food shopping for fear it won’t start and my Klondike’s will melt.

            26,000 miles ago the odometer flipped over to a 100,000. About six months ago I backed into an ATV parked in our driveway so the hatchback only opens on days which do not end in Y. There’s a problem with the right front passengers window. Press the button and the window goes down, press the button again and the window does nothing. A couple of swift kicks to the inside of the door and it gets past the dead-spot on the window- motor and finally closes. The right front speaker only works if you go over a bump; when you go over another bump, it dies. Recently I realized that about half the time my speedometer and tachometer don’t work. I noticed that, when I spotted a police car in my rear-view. Upon checking if I was obeying the law I observed that according to the gauges I was not moving and the engine was off, so I slowed down.

            The most disconcerting of my vehicle’s ailments regards the starter or the battery. Often when I turn the key the car slowly groans like an old man clearing his throat after half-a-pack of Camels. I didn’t think it was my battery until I heard a couple of clicking sounds before the groan. My husband thought perhaps if he cleaned the corroded terminals the car might start normally. I should have known there is nothing normal about a vehicle built prior to the current millennium.

            My husband is in construction. There isn’t much he can’t do with a piece of wood and his workshop full of loud machines. And because he’s not a gear-head, when he decided to clean the terminals of my battery I should have asked him to redo our kitchen, re-finish the floors or build a house.

            It was after the first terminal was disconnected and cleaned when the problem started. Every time he went to reconnect the battery cable, the car alarm went off. It was like standing in the middle of the Mohegan Sun Casino surrounded by a dozen winning slot machines with sirens wailing and whooping all at the same time.

            We tried everything. Finally he slammed the hood and went back to sawing and sanding something. To top off his admirable attempt at car repair we heard thunder in the distance, (the windows were stuck open.) So for the rest of the day and night my poor wounded minivan rested comfortably under a blue tarp held in place by rocks.

            The next day I called AAA and a nice young man, (I have socks older than him), replaced my battery and reset the alarm. The next time I hear sirens, wailing and whooping I want to be standing next to a bunch of winning slots at The Sun. Then I’ll buy a new car, one without an alarm.

(published July, 2012, Shoreline Times)





Cooking on a Budget said...

Laughed my butt off. Loved this article.

Jennine G. said...

Nice. Think I got rid of that mini van's twin last summer! It too was a 2000 with too many problems to list. The best though was the fact that the reverse lights came on when I used my turn signals! Well, the right one anyway...sometimes nothing happened at all when I turned on the left one.