My new car has a rust spot. It came on so suddenly. How can this be? I bought the car brand new and have had it just a short time. Well a fairly short time. Is eleven and a half years a fairly short time? It sure seems so.
This was only the second brand new car I had ever bought in my life. The first was when I graduated law school. That one stuck around for two years before I became bored with it and sold it.
But since then I have become a faithful car-spouse instead of the serial car-philanderer that I used to be. So when we decided to buy a new car in the summer of 2006 it was a big deal.
Gas had shot up to $4 per gallon and our 5,000 pound full-sized van was getting old and needed some work. So our next car had to be thrifty but big enough for our family of five in a pinch. A 2007 Honda Fit seemed just right.
We even had to order this one and get on a waiting list, such was demand at the time. Our car took months to arrive. Imagine, a Japanese car having to come from, like, Japan. On a ship. How retro. The picture at the top was taken when our new car was maybe six months old. It still looks like this. At least in my mind.
And now our new car has a rust spot. Actually it is now my new car. It was “our new car” when we bought it but that was before we bought a, well, new “our new car” for the Mrs. to drive. So our new car does not have a rust spot. But my new car does. It also has a couple of light bulbs out in the dash. And the floor mat has a tear in it. I suppose it needs a good cleaning too. Wait – looking at this picture, it definitely needs a good cleaning.
When I was a kid my grandma had a 1955 DeSoto. To me at that time it was the oldest thing that anyone could possibly drive. The starter conked out one day and Grandma traded it in on another car. This was in 1967. So Grandma’s DeSoto was about the age of my car now. Funny how Grandma’s twelve year old DeSoto was old on a biblical scale yet my twelve year old Honda is still new.
You can be quite sure that if the starter were to suddenly retire on my Honda I would get it fixed right away because I see years of life left in my new car. I used to occasionally listen to Click and Clack on the radio. I have never forgotten their explanation of the difference between a car and a heap. A car is something you can lend to someone with no special explanation needed about how to drive it. A heap requires detailed instruction on how this particular car differs from every other normal car on the road. By this definition my new car is definitely not a heap. And I refuse to let my new car become a heap. A project that will begin with fixing the rust spot.
My friend Jim Grey shared a picture on his blog of his elementary school in South Bend, Indiana. It was a stately, classic school building that I find beautiful. And it was old. I didn’t go to a school like that. My school was brand new in the fall of 1965 and I was there on opening day. My mother put me in a red shirt so that she could pick me out when I came out of the building after the final bell. We both had a little trouble that day. Her trouble was that about half of the other mothers had done the same thing and she was beseiged by a sea of red-shirted grade-schoolers flowing from the front doors.
My trouble was that I turned left instead of right when I exited the classroom and went out a different door from the one my mother was expecting. Well, I guess this kind of became her trouble too. I knew where I was from my time spent going on walks with our neighbor Mr. Johnston and his dog Pogo, so I made it home before she did. Does anyone walk to and from school anymore?
I looked up pictures of my old school and discovered that they are in the midst of a renovation. A renovation? If there is any school that could not possibly need a renovation it is my old grade school. Sure, it has been a little while since I have been back, but it was just beautiful the last time I was there. Almost brand new. OK, so maybe 1972 is longer ago than I like to think.
This reminds me of one summer in college. In the fall of 1980 I had a job which involved driving a Chevette with a lawnmower in the back to a small funeral home in Albany, Indiana. Once there I would cut the grass and then drive back. I hate Chevettes. The one I rented in Connecticut one weekend wasn’t any better. What, this isn’t current information?
Anyhow there was an ancient school building next door to the funeral home that was in the process of being pummeled by a wrecking ball. During a break I noticed an elderly woman standing on the corner, watching the building slowly come down. “They’re tearing down the new school” is all she would say. “New?” I thought. It looked like it had been built in the 1920s, making it over fifty years old! That wasn’t a new school but a really old one.
Old schools, new schools, old DeSotos and new Hondas. I suppose I am going to be forced to admit that all of this is about age and perspective. But I am not going to take it lying down.
Once the weather warms up I will be out in the driveway giving my new car a good cleaning up. I will also get some sandpaper and some spray touch up paint and do something about that rust spot. I simply will not accept a new car with a rust spot.
I can see right now that fixing my rust spot is going to cause a terrible dilemma. It is universally understood that once a car carries paint that has been sprayed on by its owner, the car is absolutely, positively no longer new. But at the same time it will still be my new car.
As of this moment I am not sure how I am going to reconcile this new reality to my current one. I suppose it will depend on what kind of a result I get with my repair. Fortunately one of my fast-becoming-obsolete skills is that I am pretty good with a spray can of Dupli-Color. So for right now I am betting that I am going to continue to enjoy my new car for several more years.