Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Drive My Car

PJ's new, very blue car

 Hallelujah!! PJ has a car!! He’d been the owner of a 1983 (yup) buggy which gave out awhile back. Since then, he has been begging and borrowing—thankfully, not stealing—rides everywhere he needed to go. His plan for this post-graduation year was to substitute teach at various schools in the area, most of which are not accessible by public transportation. So he’s been on the hunt for wheels for months.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, he found a 2005 Elantra. Low mileage! Reputable dealer! Alas! The dealer was an hour north of here. I hightailed it up with Pieg to seal the deal, expecting we could quickly part company and he could tool off in his new car. But no! The dealer had to power wash the Elantra first; it wouldn’t be ready for hours. Finally, we really did part company, and PJ drove home to his apartment. En route, however, the “check engine” light went on. Drat!! Back to the far-flung dealership the next morning, to discover that the power washing had left water in the spark plugs, causing a misfire. Happy ending: quickly fixed and PJ is in business. Whew!

I totally get the ease and convenience of autos. Indeed, looking back I marvel at my relatively car-less childhood. It was all well and good when we lived in NYC, but as soon as we hit the suburbs it was a different story. By the time we moved to Atlanta, we were truly stuck all week (Dad was a traveling

Ah, Pumpkin memories! Thanks to Michael Baran for sending this along!
salesman, Mom didn’t drive). It was a happy day in the   
Cunningham house when we bought the Gremlin (a “sporty” bright orange number we dubbed The Great Pumpkin), and sister Mo and I could take over weekday driving duty.

Nowadays, while I can’t say I drive for the fun of it, I can’t imagine NOT driving, and dread the day to come when I’ll have to relinquish my keys. My Grandma Berrigan was almost 90 when The Moment of Truth arrived (she’d remarked to my uncle, “How strange, lovey. People are planting trees in their driveways!”) Grandma clearly had to stop driving, but it was painful. Driving is a Declaration of Independence, and who wants to give that up? Ours is a nation of highways, and Lord help you if you can’t navigate them. So on we motor, guzzling our gas and racking up the miles in our Volvos and Chevys and Toyotas.

Watching PJ drive away, I said a little prayer:

Dear Lord, May we remember how lucky we are to be able to get so easily from Point A to Point B in a car. May we also remember to slow down sometimes, turn off our ignitions and enjoy being right where we are. Life is going fast enough, and there are many pleasures to be had at walking distance. As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, with its massive traffic jams, I pray for safe travels for all, and many happy reunions. Amen.