Plymouth Rock

You can read about why squirrels have a bone to pick with the founding fathers here.

You can read about why squirrels have a bone to pick with the founding fathers here.

It’s Wednesday, which of course means it’s Black Friday Eve… not that that makes a single bit of sense from a Gregorian standpoint.  Anyway, it’s time once again for me to roll out some pretty pictures for Marilyn’s Serendipity Photo Prompt.  The “Frisbee,” as she once dubbed it, is being retired and will be no more after this week… but The Nest still plans to make every Wednesday non-sciurine picture day.  This has been my favorite new feature I have added to my blog this year, and I look forward to continue telling my twisted but true tales to the beat of my world famous shitty photography…

So, with all of the farewell bouquets and cat calls out of the way… let’s meet the subject of this week’s post:

Beep! Beep!

Beep! Beep!

There are guys who are absolutely in love with cars, and I am fortunately not one of those people.  Never been a car guy, never will.  But it’s hard for me not to have a higher than normal amount of affection for the vehicle that has been my constant companion for 15 years now.  On November 24, 2000… which only coincidentally happened to be Black Friday that year… me and my Dad ventured to the Chevy dealership across the street from my Mecca to find my very first car.  While I very much wanted a red car since it’s my favorite color, and there were plenty of gingers to choose from, I wound up driving off that day in the only blue used car on the entire lot.  I’ll bet every one of those red cars I passed on is rusting in a junkyard somewhere right now…

My car patiently waits while I take pictures of squirrels in the park while trying not to look like a pedophile.

My car patiently waits while I take pictures of squirrels in the park while trying not to look like a pedophile.

My car is a no-frills 1998 Plymouth Neon… a make and model that have both long since gone extinct.  The dealer who sold me the car fast-talked me into purchasing GM’s extended warranty.  I can’t possibly thank him enough since I more than got my money’s worth of free repairs from those extra two years tacked on to the rapidly expiring original factory warranty… and that was the two year window during which both of the major issues my car wound up having surfaced.  In December 2001, a short in one of the computer’s wires kept kicking the car into perpetual high idle whenever it would rain.  Try convincing an ASE certified mechanic that your car is only having some under the hood issue while it’s raining.  After three tows and three repairs (All on General Motors’ tab… bet they liked paying for a car they didn’t even manufacture!), they finally conceded I might be right and identified the problem by squirting the living shit out of everything under the hood with water bottles.

Then the following year, my poor Neon began leaking oil like a sieve with holes in it.  Since I was literally months away from that extended warranty expiring, I was convinced to take it in and discovered the wonderful world of how Neons were built with the world’s shittiest head gaskets.  Despite Chrysler discovering the issue and designing a superior model shortly after my car was made, the customer friendly auto giant could not be bothered to issue a recall on the damned thing.  That made me one of the lucky few Neon owners who got a brand new head without having to pay a penny…. again, on GM’s dime.  No wonder Detroit needed bailing out…

After 8 years of being a birdshit depository, my Neon was very happy to get its own garage... which incidentally is no longer that clean.

After 8 years of being a birdshit depository, my Neon was very happy to get its own garage… which incidentally is no longer that clean.

After that rough start, it seemed inevitable that a continuing string of costly repairs was going to eventually force us to break up.  Yet amazingly, the car’s needed very little fixed outside of routine maintenance over the past 12 years.  The fan that kept the engine cool broke once (Overheating in an interstate traffic jam with your 8 year old nephew in tow is so much fun!), the AC crapped out and became unusable due to power draining issues, a bad brake job (NEVER EVER GO TO MIDAS, FOLKS!) caused my passenger front tire to smoke before the whole brake set up finally exploded.  And just last week, I sprung a coolant leak… though those hoses badly needed changed anyway.  On average, I’ve spent maybe $500 a year on the car.  Before you say that’s too much, compare that to a monthly car payment for a minute.  Since I made my last payment in February 2005, and dropped expensive full coverage on the car in March 2008, I’ve literally saved tens of thousands of dollars over that time span… money that has been well spent replacing all the shit that’s breaking down in my home.

My car isn't afraid to take on SUV's twice its size.

My car isn’t afraid to take on SUV’s twice its size.

While I may procrastinate on oil changes and neglect to clean the inside of the car like….. ever, I’ve really been very good to it during our 15 years together.  It’s been fortunate to have only been involved in three minor accidents.  The first occurred in 2004 as me and another driver backed into each other pulling out of opposing parking spaces.  That busted out part of my left tail light… a scar the car still bears today.  Then while I was still living at home, my sister side-swiped my parked car after being spooked by some idiot tailgating her.  That stripe of red paint is still near my driver’s side reflector as well.  And then there was my totally at-fault accident I got into on an Oklahoma trip in 2011 where I tried to make a dangerous left turn and T-boned an SUV (At maybe 5 mph) while trying to pull into a damned Whataburger.  I’m so glad the other driver settled things out without getting the police involved (Still ticket free, that’s me!)… though I can’t believe my insurance company didn’t question why cars from Illinois and Texas were involved in an accident in central Oklahoma.

One of my message board friends portraying the hot car model.

One of my message board friends portraying the hot car model.

While I knew I didn’t have many photos of my car in the archives, I was extremely disappointed to realize just how few times I’d bothered to take its picture.  Despite taking it along with me on baseball trips to Cleveland and numerous jaunts to Kansas City where I’d taken plenty of other photos, I didn’t have a single damn Neon picture in either folder!  Oh well, with a cracked tail lens, two missing front hubcaps (I won’t bother warning you about the local tire shop that fucked that up), the driver’s side paneling missing, and countless dents, scratches and paint streaks… my Neon is probably just as rightfully camera shy as I am.  In my car’s glory days, it actually got quite a few compliments from pretty girls who thought it looked “too cute.”  If I were a playa, this car no real man would be caught dead driving could’ve probably picked up a lot of chicks back in the day.

Hey, at least it's still stylish in its old age.

Hey, at least it’s still stylish in its old age… if not clean.

As it sits in my garage while I type this, I’m still just a couple hundred miles short of having put 100,000 on it since I drove it off the lot that chilly November afternoon when Bill Clinton was still President and Regis was the talk of TV.  No doubt the fact that I have a very short commute is a large factor in why it’s still on the road.  I like to think I have an unwritten agreement with my Neon… as long as it keeps getting me from Point A to Point B, I’ll keep it out of the junkyard, or even worse, from belonging to some idiot kid who’ll drive it into its grave.  Who needs to play the expensive game of constantly upgrading your car?  Take care of it, and it will take care of you.  Your bank account will thank you…

Some day I'll tell the story about when the chemical plant decided to use my parents' street as their own personal parking lot.

Some day I’ll tell the story about when the chemical plant decided to use my parents’ street as their own personal parking lot.

I’ll try to do better, or at least keep it shorter, next week…

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About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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20 Responses to Plymouth Rock

  1. I agree with you, NEVER go to Midas… but at least there I learnt that the world is not only pink and funny, it’s dark and stinky too… I cried a little while reading, I remembered my Hyundai Lantra who was on my side for 17 years… I see it from time to time when I shop groceries and I always pat it when I meet it in the parking lot…. I know, I’m crazy :o)

  2. Ally Bean says:

    This is a story of true love. You two have been together for so long that it brings a tear to my eye. Such devotion. Such a sense of connection from the git go. Such a reasonably inexpensive way to travel. You inspire!

    • And I’ve had it so long, I’ve put gas ranging from as cheap as 96 cents a gallon all the way up to $4.19 a gallon in its tank! While I certainly don’t miss the $4 a gallon days, at least having a small tank and not driving much never made buying gas the financial crisis it is for many people…

  3. draliman says:

    Ah, old faithful. It was actually quite new when you bought it!

    • From the paperwork that was left in the glove box, I was able to learn that it spent the first two years of its life as some high school girl’s car… and she put as many miles on it in those 2+ years as I have in the past 5! She also apparently knocked the passenger side mirror off at some point since I noticed not long ago that there are dates printed on the glass of each mirror, and the drivers side is original (11/97) while the passenger was definitely replaced (12/99)!

  4. Merbear74 says:

    But, is it moldy?
    Okay, I’ll stop.

  5. Garry’s car is our yellow 2002 Pontiac Sunbird. He loves that car and despite its 13 years on the road, it has remarkably few problems. None, actually, that we know about. He loves it. It isn’t a great winter car being very much like your Neon in style of low center of gravity, but it’s snappy and yellow and has a moon roof. Which gives Garry his “convertible” fix. We have no plans to trade it because according to somebody or others’ book, it isn’t worth anything. But it runs and it has saved us from car-less-ness many time when our newer vehicle was in non-running mode. It was used too when we got it. Best buy I ever made!

    • That reminds me of when I applied for my home loan, and the bank president (Yes, it’s a small bank) filling out my application asked if I had any assets. I pointed to my car in the parking lot (Which was only 12 years old at the time), and after a little thought, he put down a value of $500 for it. It’s sad, and the reason it isn’t even worth insuring anymore. But the real value of cars like ours is almost priceless…

  6. Trisha says:

    I’ve never heard a story of car problems occurring before the warranty expires and not immediately after. I think your electric blue Neon must be enchanted!

    Keyless entry things rot your brain. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood outside my front door pushing the button on mine while wondering why the hell the door wouldn’t beep and unlock.

    • Having to never get one of those evil keyless entry things would be reason enough to try to keep my car forever and ever. Whenever I get a rental car for trips, I always have issues with pressing the button enough times to unlock the stupid car, but not enough times to set off the panic alarm…

  7. goldfish says:

    Nothing makes sense from a Gregorian standpoint.

    I had a crappy Hyundai Accent for twelve years and over 100K miles before the transmission went and we parted ways. I wish I could find a reliable car that I could drive forever again.

    • I know I’ve been incredibly lucky with this car, and one day it’s going to run out. I dread having to go through the car buying process again… not only because I’m a socially awkward introvert who can’t haggle, but it would also mean I’d end up with a newer car, and all that fancy ass gadgetry and high tech shit they put into modern cars is what most often ends up turning them into premature money pits. I like simplicity, even if it means I have to use elbow grease to roll down my windows…

      • goldfish says:

        “I’m a socially awkward introvert who can’t haggle”

        Ditto.

        My current car has a clicker to open the doors and lock them. I keep a real door key on my keychain, because even after three years, I forget to use the clicker thing. Most of the time, I use the key like a 90s mope.

  8. fanrosa says:

    While you might not be a car guy, I am a total gearhead so this might be my favourite post of yours ever! I would read it to Mary Jean, but I have a new housemate with all of his junk in her toasty garage so she’s been forced to temporarily move to the driveway….

  9. That is one great car!

  10. My first car was a 1981 Toyota Tercel hatchback. I loved that thing…right into the ground. I replaced it with a red Nissan Pulsar. I loved that thing…right into the ground too. There have been others but by far my fav. was my bright blue 2003 Echo hatchback…which Hubby took to work one day and it died tragically as a sandwich.

    You’ll never forget your “first”!

  11. Cars have personalities and they become part of our lives as much as our pets. I’m glad yours is still looking after you!

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