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Random Thoughts About Cars

I got my driver’s license when I finally needed it. Before then, I hitched a ride with my parents or used public transportation in the city. I didn’t really need a car, and I didn’t really have a reason to drive. Finally I got a learner’s permit and started taking driving lessons, but I was really lazy about it and it took me a couple of years to finish them. 

Cars spark some interesting thoughts.

No one thought I was ready for the driving test. The driving instructor thought I needed a couple more lessons. Mom kept giving me the line that she didn’t drive until she was twenty-two and I shouldn’t worry about it. Dad was preparing me to fail the test, telling me that it took him three times. It apparently took Mom twice.


But I needed the license now. I had a job waiting for me in the Cascades and I needed to drive in order to get there. I passed the test in the first try and drove off into the mountains. It was partially because I needed the license and partially to show up all the people who said I’d fail.


This wasn’t the last time that happened, either. When I went to college, one quarter I took seventeen academic credits. I was told by everyone I knew that I probably wasn’t going to get the good grades I usually got because seventeen credits was “too hard.” This was especially true because one of the classes was Introduction to Logic.


Yeah, I swore at the beginning of the quarter that I was going to show them all. I worked my ass off for that 4.0 I earned at the end of the quarter. Not only that, I was one of only six people out of ninety-eight to get an A in logic. People shut up after that.


Don’t tell me something is going to happen. Don’t prepare me for failure. I’m likely to go out of my way to prove you wrong. There are several cases where I have done so, too, and not just for trivial things like driver’s licenses or academic credits, either.


I remember when Grandma would cackle wisely whenever I said I wasn’t going to get married. She told me that she always swore up and down that she never would, and she was the first sibling in her family to marry. Decades later and I’m still unhitched, nor have I ever had plans to be hitched, and I’ve never been in a romantic relationship. It’s just not something aromantics do.


Then there’s Mom, who always looked down her nose at me when I said I wasn’t going to have sex. She told me, rather triumphantly, that I would someday because “nature makes it that way.” Well, I’m no longer that twelve-year-old who claimed asexuality. I’m not a fully adult and very happy asexual.


And let’s not forget the myriad of people who said that I would outgrow my “tomboy phase” when I grew older. I was supposed grow into makeup, dresses, and jewelry. Here I am, wearing my usual jeans and tennis shoes, with no idea how to even put on makeup. It’s just not something that this agender person cares about.


Just by existing as I truly am, I proved them wrong. Yeah, you read that right. I am AAA. I guess that’s a good transition into today’s actual topic, when you think about it. So we’ll start with a pun.


Today’s topic is cars, but, as usual, it makes me think of other things for this freewriting project. My first car was my mother’s old Chevy pick-up truck. It took me on trips to explore volcanoes of the West for several years in a row. That truck was my dog Reedy’s favorite car, and he enjoyed riding in it on his long doggy rides every summer.


Unfortunately, the maintenance for the old vehicle got too much for me. I just couldn’t keep up with the old car and I had no knowledge of auto mechanics, so I made the big mistake of selling it to a neighbor kid. He eventually sold it in exchange for some crappy Toyota truck, and the guy he sold my truck to wore it into the ground. There were a lot of memories in that truck, and to this day I regret selling it.


Today I drive my mom’s old Subaru, which has considerably less maintenance so far. I’ve heard those old Subarus will drive until they fall apart after 300,000 miles. So far it has almost 220,000 miles and it’s still going. (Knock on wood.)


It’s not that it’s never had problems. Twice it slipped its belt tensioner and left us stranded in Mammoth Lakes. It once blew its oil cooler outside of Wenatchee, Washington. Then there was the time the alternator gave up the ghost after seventeen years. I recently replaced the brake system for about nine hundred dollars, and it’s in need of a new fuel pump, but it’s still here.


This thing is like a tank through floods and snow. It pushes through without so much as a shimmy. It’s been through three floods and more snowstorms than I can count. It’s driven on a road that consisted of nothing but two ramps for the tires, and it even traveled on solid ice once.


I remember that day. I didn’t realize the back streets of Ellensburg, Washington, were in such bad shape after a winter of continuous snowstorms. Suddenly the sound underneath the tires changed and I heard that metallic whistle of solid ice. I felt the car going into a skid, despite its AWD, and I gently lifted off the gas. The car did a slow motion 360 through the intersection, where I nodded and waved to a rather baffled guy walking his dog. The car contacted some solid street on the other side of the intersection and immediately locked into place. That is probably the biggest adventure I had in this car.


Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen of Subarus, their quality has gone down since we purchased this car. Almost all the new ones end up needing their head gasket replaced sometime after purchase. There are also several with burned out engines. Though whether this is actually a drop in quality or a consequence of the type of drivers who have started driving Subarus, I can’t tell you for sure.


Today’s push is for electric cars. Unfortunately, the technology is not keeping up with demand. Until a recent call for standardizing the charging system, every car had a different one. The batteries are not ready for long distance travel, nor for cold weather, and a certain brand of electric car is infamous for catching on fire. We’ve got a long way to go before these cars will be ready for the modern roads, no matter how much the idealists want to change our society to something greener.


You can build all the charging stations you want along the Interstates. The problem is there are other roads in this country. That is my problem with the Democratic Party, they are urban thinkers. They never put any consideration into rural life or long distance travel. Like the Republicans, most of the leaders of the party are wealthy and have no idea what it’s like to not have money to spare. They think of the lower classes as just existing and don’t really care, either.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly as hell not a Republican. If I went into all the problems I have with the Republican Party, we would be here all day. That’s another blog entry in itself. The Democrats’ problems fit into a paragraph or two. The Republicans fit into a few pages, at least.


Right now as I’m typing this, I’m listening to the neighbor work on his obnoxiously loud truck. The thing starts up every morning at least thirty minutes before I have to get up and blares all over the neighborhood. It wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t leave it idling for several minutes before he drives it away. Lack of sleep is making me grumpy.


The other morning I put a grouchy curse on that truck and rolled over to go back to sleep. Now I don’t believe in curses, but you have to wonder a little bit. He’s been trying desperately to fix that truck since the morning I snapped my fingers at it. Just buy a new car, man! A quieter car! Please!


I recently rented out my mom’s old place to a young family in the valley. It’s a good thing I’ve got over two acres on this property, because they have four cars. One of them doesn’t run yet, but the guy is working to restore it. Interestingly enough, it is parked in the spot where I used to keep the truck, and it’s also a blue pickup truck. I guess this is the designated non-running blue pickup truck spot.


The only other random thought I have about cars was a story my dad told me. When he was a young man, the highways in Nevada didn’t have speed limits. He was riding in a car going around a hundred miles per hour. Suddenly this souped-up sports car came blaring up behind them, shifted into the next lane, and darted off with a brief BRRRT. They had to wonder how fast it was going. I am pretty relieved that Nevada changed its mind on those speed limits.


Well, that’s all I have about cars for now. Please remember, while electric cars are a good idea, we’ve got a long way to go with their technology. If you’ve got that one special car out there, don’t let it go for anything. Oh, and to that guy out in the middle of the Nevada desert, if you’re still around, slow the hell down, will you?

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