Cars

A month or so ago I started thinking seriously about getting an electric car.

I don’t think I’ve owned a car newer than five years old so I started looking at used cars. Leafs. Bolts. i3s. eGolfs. Fiat 500s.

Actually, I started looking at one or two person cars. I see them in Europe and they’re all I need for getting around town. I figured I would keep a gas car for longer trips and head to the coffee shop in a Twizzy of something.

Maggie said, “no”. She’d lost a parent in a car accident and she was not supporting a small car that could be run over by an SUV that just didn’t see it.

Kim was run over by a truck driver on his phone three years ago today.

The driver never did any time for swerving his truck into her while reaching for his phone. It cost him no money and no time in jail.

But that isn’t the story I was telling.

I was telling you about looking for a car.

Once I started thinking more seriously about the electric car, I decided that if I got one with enough range I could make it my only car.

The farthest distance I travel regularly is to see my mother in Oberlin. That’s about eighty miles round trip so I need one that can comfortably do, say, one hundred twenty which means it should be rated at one hundred fifty or so.

Most of my travel farther than that is by airplane. Now that Maggie has graduated and moved in to her new apartment I won’t be driving to see her. I’ll probably fly. For those occasional long trips, I can rent a car.

So I started asking friends about electric cars and they said the Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Bolt, and the Tesla Model 3.

The only new car we’ve ever owned was the Honda we bought for Kim when we first adopted Maggie. We wanted to have a safe car for our new baby. A car that was reliable.

We decided to get a new car for Kim and a reliable used car for me.

It was a tough decision. We each loved our cars but they were old and neither was reliable.

She had a white Chevy Cavalier. She looked cute in it – but she looked cute in everything.

She knew exactly how big that thing was and could maneuver it in and out of tight spots without paying much attention.

I was driving a well-used Volvo. I loved that car. It was comfortable and drove great. The wind whistled oddly when I drove on the highway because someone had broken into the car to steal my stereo and the replaced window didn’t seal quite right.

So Kim and I went to a car dealership to buy a new car for her and a used car for me.

We knew what we want. We told the salesman what we wanted and who they were for. I told the salesman that Kim was the car person. But he decided to concentrate on me. When we test drove the car for Kim he suggested I get in and drive it and gestured Kim to the passenger seat.

He lost two sales that day. We’d come in to buy and we left with nothing.

Someone at the radio station knew someone who sold cars near us so we went in to look at a Honda.

He listened.

He focused on Kim and answered her technical questions. We bought the car and drove it for nineteen years.

Kim and I had been talking about selling it, but after Kim died I couldn’t have Maggie driving in a car that wasn’t absolutely safe.

I bought a used white Nissan Maxima. My mechanic knew a couple that was downsizing. The wife had a car that she only drove to Cedar Center to shop and to the beauty parlor.

The car was in great shape. It wasn’t really my style. It felt too nice for me. But I loved that car. It was easy to drive and had an electric sun roof. I drove it until just after Elena died. Too many things needed fixing.

So I’m looking for an electric car.

Last week Maggie and I test drove a Bolt. I have several friends who have one and speak highly of it. It’s rated for two hundred forty miles. So we test drove a 2017 model.

I liked it a lot. It drove a little funny as I came off the highway but the salesman said that’s just how it is. It tightens up at low speeds. Also I wasn’t used to the feeling of a car as it regenerates power. The price was good but it had been a fleet car and had enough miles in a year to void the three year/36000 mile warranty.

My mother had a great suggestion. “Test drive a new one,” she said. That way I would know whether that model had driven stiffly at low speeds or if the salesman had been right that they all do.

So I did. After I dropped Maggie off at school I went to a local dealership and drove a new Bolt.

It was nice. But it was more money than the base Tesla so I decided to test drive one of those as well.

A friend said that he thought Tesla was off-brand for me. That he couldn’t see me in one.

Perhaps. My cars had been old and used. I started in 1981 with a ’72 Century, then an orange ’62 VW Beetle. There was a brown Rabbit, a VW GTO, the Volvo sedan, and then that Nissan Maxima. Since then it has been Subarus. An Impreza, a Forester, and an Outback.

The Bolt does feel more like my brand: an aging, overweight, former academic. It felt like a regular car.

The Tesla was fun to drive and leasing it is about the same cost as buying the used Bolt.

Maggie reminds me that there’s no rush.

I was rushing a bit. I told them I’d make a decision today.

That was before I remembered that Kim was run over by a truck driver on his phone three years ago today.

Maybe that was why I’d set an arbitrary deadline of today. I can wait.

Kim was driving a car she absolutely loved.

She bought my sister’s Mazda Miata and she loved driving it.

She looked cute in it.

So cute.

She’d text me that she was coming home and I’d open the garage door for her. The dog and I would be working in the back yard at the picnic table.

She’d pull into the driveway with the top down, the radio playing, and she’d look over and smile and wave at us.

So cute.

So happy. She loved that car.

She’d pull into the garage and put the top up for the night.

I had an electrician over to see about restoring power to our garage. I should do it anyway. The automatic garage door opener hasn’t worked since a friend of Kim’s cut through the power while installing our patio.

He had trouble moving around in the room with the power in the basement.

I’d forgotten that the hard top to Kim’s car is still there.

I’m not going to make a decision about a new car today.

Kim was run over by a truck driver on his phone three years ago today.

 

Published in: on August 19, 2019 at 7:08 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Daniel, since you started this blog – since Elena’s death – I’ve been reading.

    Each year, I marked Elena’s passing. I’ve gotten to know glimpses of Maggie, of Kim, of you, of your dog. Of your loving family, and of your friends.

    Of Elena, as she was, so full of life – before she wasn’t. And of how you had to live through missing her, no matter how impossibly painful it was for all of you.

    Three years ago, when you wrote about Kim’s accident — no, no, no, I didn’t want it to be true! It couldn’t be real. It wasn’t possible that you had to deal with Kim’s death on top of Elena’s.

    So bitterly, so strongly I didn’t want it to be true. Any feeling I had, I knew it did not even approach the blinding, unyielding devastation you all were forced to bear.

    I cried my eyes out for Kim – for you – for Maggie. I cried and cried. I felt I’d lost a friend, that the world had lost someone it couldn’t afford to lose. How much more, far beyond the furthest thing I could feel – how much more you feel with her death.

    I’m crying today. I’ve never met you IRL, but your Kim – she was one in a trillion. She was so *right* with you. That she’s not here – that’s the wrongest wrong I can imagine.

    I’m sorry is pale and ridiculous and pointless. It won’t bring her back. But I am so sorry. I am truly devastated that your Kim is not right there with you, right now.

    If only.

    Cathy in Missouri

  2. So sorry, Daniel.


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