Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - July 21, 2006

Musical cars

The "low engine oil" light came on.

I went back into the house and asked hubby Art, "Could you check the oil for me?"

The dipstick was completely dry, so he added enough 10W-30 until it reached the "add oil" line. "That will get you into town to the shop," he proclaimed. "It wouldn't make sense for me to add more and then have them discard it if they have to break the engine down. Oh, and by the way, have them check the air conditioning, too. It hasn't been keeping the van cool enough."

I sighed. But most of the time, we seem to get along fine with our assortment of older cars - the 1996 van, a 1994 Cadillac and a 1989 Mazda. Mariya's 1992 Topaz serves her pretty well, too.

In fact, even when our cars have "bitten the dust," they have proven to be useful. I had planned on having a wrecker haul off my old 1984 Cavalier. Art thought he might try to get it running again, but decided it wasn't worth the effort.

But then he called from work one day and said, "Don't call the wrecker just yet."

I wasn't sure why, but I figured he wanted to check to see if there was some part he could use on one of the other vehicles. Sure enough, he raided the Cavalier's horns. He used them as replacements for the two in Mariya's car. It was only later I learned that those same horns had originally come from his 1971 Buick and had gone on to new lives in first his 1979 Oldsmobile and then my Cavalier.

So, although I griped a little, I didn't really mind taking the van in to get the oil leak and the air conditioning checked.

In the meantime, I borrowed Mom's pickup to use as my replacement vehicle for a day or two. I love that 1994 S-10 pickup because it reminds me of when Dad used it on the farm.

But after having parked it on campus on one of those really hot days, I noticed something askew. As I unlocked the door, I saw that the rear view mirror had fallen off the windshield and was hanging by a small cable.

I sighed again. I stopped by Art's office to get his advice, but he was in the middle of a project and not in the mood for a car repair. He told me I could get the glue I needed at Wal-Mart. I didn't feel like going there and then having to figure out how to use the glue so I decided to return to the shop where the van was. I drove slowly, holding the mirror in my right hand so it wouldn't bash the windshield. When I let go of it long enough to maneuver around corners, it swayed from one side to the other.

"Guess I'll play musical cars with you," I told the repairman. "If my van is done, I'll take it and leave the pickup with you." So we exchanged keys and I was on my way.

Times such as these make me wish for a new car. And when I watch the ads on TV or see they are having a big auto sale in town, I think how nice it would be to have a new vehicle.

But then I come down to earth. When I look at what they cost compared to our vehicles, some of the new-car luster fades. And I'm inclined to imagine that "new car" translates into "no hassle." But new cars have problems too and still need routine maintenance. By then, the thrill is gone.

So, no matter which way you go, old or new, as Andy Rooney says, "The next problem is already in the mail."

And so it was. I returned the pickup to Mom's and went on my way in the van. But two days later, I found that the door latch was jammed and I had to crawl out the passenger side.

Ah, boy - time once again to play musical cars!

2006 Index