I needed a rental car recently and I was really excited about it. My van, after all, was built in 1996 and has suffered through more than its fair share of vomit, rock collections, soggy Cheeze-its, ground-in mud, spilled 7-Up, and half-sucked lollipops that have melted to become a permanent part of the carpet. The blinker doesn't work, the rear-window wiper doesn't work, there is a click that refuses to depart, the power steering freezes up involuntarily, the Check Engine light comes on each time we use the air conditioner, there is a diaper (unused--what kind of people do you think we are?) stuck in one of the back windows to keep it from rattling and the heating vents in the back do not heat. You know, it's old and I don't know how to fix cars. So the chance to drive a new car with less than about 5% of the miles that my car has was a pretty exciting thing in my world.
I picked up that car and it was sporty and sleek. There were no bicycle handle bar scratches running down the length of it, the doors closed with a satisfying thwump, and the back seats flipped up and down with the ease and grace of Fred Astaire on a dance floor. Lovely.
I started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot. No clicks, ticks or bumps.
I turned on the blinker and it began this rhythmic tick-tick-tick without the assistance of my left hand. I had forgotten how convenient that was!
I fiddled with the satellite radio, dinked with the phone controls on the steering wheel (no, I don't have a cell phone so I just had a conversation with the lady who kept saying, "Pardon?" and "Cancelled" and other intriguing single word responses), and basked in the warmth of the vents that blew hot air without throwing a fit.
But then? Then, tragedy struck.
Then, it was just a car.
The seats weren't as comfortable as my old van. The steering wheel had a kind of strange shape that made my hands tired. I listened to NPR on the satellite radio . . . which I can find on the FM dial. It got all dirty on the slushy winter roads. I still had to scrape the windows and I didn't like the gas cap.
Final assessment: I will keep my comfy old van in which I don't worry much if something spills or a newly training-wheel-free child slams into in lieu of breaks. As long as I have access to a good mechanic, I am happy to blink that light.