I remember it rather clearly. Significant other Jamie’s old, bright red Pontiac Grand Prix had revved its engine for the last time. We were in a pickle. He needed a cheap, reliable car — and fast. A bit panicky myself, I posted on Facebook, hoping, but not really expecting, anyone on my friends list to have a car they needed to get rid of.
Surprisingly, a classmate from high school sent me a message. She had recently upgraded her vehicle and had one she was willing to sell. Jamie and I met with her parents just outside of town and for a couple hundred bucks, Jamie had a “new” car to drive.
The car certainly didn’t owe Jamie anything. There were dents in the side panels and a few rusty spots, but it was reliable. One hub cap was still intact, although the other three had mysteriously fallen off somewhere along the many roads driven. The mileage reached into the 250,000 range.
But a couple of weeks ago, Jamie bought a new car — something he’d been dreaming about for a few years now. He spent a lot of time “researching” online, showing me vehicles and trying to convince me he needed a BMW. We drove around many car lots, inspecting each vehicle carefully. Finally, we went into a dealership in Madison and Jamie ended up driving away with a new car — a beautiful dark blue 2017 Chevy Malibu.
And for $250, the old, reliable car was gone.
Now, I’ll have to admit, there was a tinge of jealousy from this girlfriend upon the purchase of the new car. I bought my car about five years ago — a silver 2007 Ford 500. For a couple thousand dollars, I finally had upgraded from several runs of “old” cars, each as terrible as the last. But the glamour had worn off, especially with the introduction of Jamie’s new ride.
As I climbed into my car to dart off to a pasture walk, the orange check engine light switched on — for no outwardly apparent reason. I blasted the air conditioning, with only a small puff of cool air blowing out of the vent. Jotting down my starting mileage, I realized it won’t be too long before I’m pushing the 200,000-mile range.
But with the windows rolled down and the breeze whipping through my hair, the music turned up just enough to hear over the howl of the wind, I was content. I was going to get where I needed to go.
Bumping through a field to park upon arriving at the pasture walk, I didn’t need worry about scratches or door dings. Muddy back roads? No problem.
Putting on my sunglasses and slinging my camera over my shoulder, the tinge of jealousy had worn off, and it seemed at this moment, my car was, in fact, actually just right for the job.
Someday I’ll be able to upgrade my ride, but until then, I’ll keep cruising those Wisconsin back roads with the tunes cranked, appreciative for the adventure and everything I have.
Brooke Bechen covers news and writes feature stories in southern Wisconsin. She can be reached at email@example.com or 608-574-5405.