Wednesday, July 30, 2008....
Yesterday my sister came into town and we got to spend some time together. As we were in her car, we discussed the purchase of her next car. She's torn between several options, one of which is a Volvo. For safety reasons this is a practical choice. However, as we were discussing the virtues of the Volvo we digressed and talked about the cars our dad would purchase when we were in high school.
My dad commuted into NYC and needed a commuter car for the train station. However, if we dropped him off early mornings and picked him up in the evenings, we had access to the car. It was great because alot of my friends had to take the bus to school and I had a car which opened the door for endless freedom. No standing on the corner waiting for the school bus in the freezing weather and I could go places after school without having to rely on a parent to shuttle me around. My sister and I never had an issue about sharing the commuter car because she is 4 years older than me and was in college when I was driving.
The cars that my dad chose were HORRIBLE. If he paid more than $400 for them, he would have overpaid for them. During the years that my sister used the commuter car in high school, she drove this old Toyota. I think a Corolla or Tercel, but am not positive. I am fuzzy on the particulars, but remember it was white with a lot of rust and it backfired all the time. One late night as my sister was driving home from visiting her boyfriend during summer break from college, she was pulled over by a police officer. It wasn't for speeding. No. It was for the shots she was supposedly firing from the car with her gun. Apparently, when she was leaving her boyfriend's house late that evening, the car backfired when she started it up. The neighbors thought it was a gun being fired and called the cops. She was pulled over at 2:00 a.m., wearing shorts and tank top (if memory serves me, but definitely wearing clothing that could not conceal a gun). Two things I remember about that night are that 1) it took her some time to convince the police officers that she hadn't a gun and explain why she was in that neighborhood at 2:00 a.m.;and 2) her chewing out my dad for the sheer embarrassment of being pulled over by the cops.
Shortly after this incident, my dad purchased the commuter car that I got to drive around. A puke brown, Capri. My sister reminded me last night how much she hated the car, but I kind of have fond memories of the car. It was an incredibly low riding vehicle and maybe I thought that was cool. Heck, I was 16, what did I know. Believe it or not, that car was less safe than the crappy back-firing Toyota. This one caught on fire....while I was the driver.... However, that isn't the best part of the story. The best part is that I was driving to a friend's house when the car began to smoke and I pulled over in front of the local pizza place. I got out of the car, noticed a trail of flames following the car and went into the pizza place with the intent of trying to put out the fire. I had the best intentions, but all I could mutter was "Excuse me, could I please have a glass of water. My car is on fire." My sister still laughs at this, but kudos to me for having manners. I said excuse me (I believe I may have been interrupting a conversation) and said "please". Needless to say, a glass of water wasn't the solution, however, it was a start. The fire department was able to put the fire out before it exploded from the gas line fire. The entire engine burnt in the fire and my dad's response to when I informed him that the car was dead was "I told you to bring the car down for a new muffler -- this never would have happened if you had done that". He was finally convinced that it wasn't my fault only after talking with the fire department and learning it was a gas line fire. He also had a delusion of saving the car until he saw the melted engine.
It was after this incident that my mother finally intervened and the "commuter" cars became safe Subarus. Twenty-five years later and my dad still drives a Subaru.
Personally, I'm hoping that our car drive discussion last night convinces my sister to play it safe and get the Volvo.