My beloved 18-year-old Saturn died two weeks ago. She only had 31.5K miles on her, but when the dementia of a terminal electrical problem sidelined her, I knew it was time to put the old gal down.
She was a good car. I mean, 18 years. Come on. Only a couple of small problems over our time together. She even had her original brakes. I’d dubbed her “Bratgirl” because she looked a little like a sports car. I certainly felt like my ass was dragging on the ground when I drove her. But, she had to go. Here’s my last shot of her as I backed away in her replacement.
When I make a decision like buying a new car, I generally do a minimal amount of research and then go. Do it. Get it over with. Plus with an anxiety disorder that has left me mistrustful of automobiles in general, I needed to deal quickly with the reality of my fear of the car just stopping—STOPPING—in the middle of the road without power.
I began by looking at used cars offered by a rental company. I’ve known several people who’ve had very good luck getting a car this way. Then I looked at new cars and discovered that for only a few thousand more, I could get a brand new car with no mileage to speak of. Worth it to me.
So on the Saturday after the Thursday Bratgirl first crapped out on me, I forced her to take me to the local Toyota dealership where I abandoned her in favor of a brand-new, bright-red Yaris. I named her Ruby Saturday.
And here she is.
First new car in 18 years. Do you know how much has changed in that time? I got pretty much the cheapest car on the lot. It has Bluetooth and a push-button start and a backup camera. Standard. All of this advanced technology is great, but my driving skills have been truly challenged. Take today.
Today, I drove to my writing workshop, pushed the button to turn the car off and saw a yellow light on the start button. I’d never seen that before. What the fuck? What’s the yellow light for? I pushed the button to start the car again, then turned it off again. Yellow light remained. I looked around and noticed that the car was still in Drive. So my car was telling me to shift to Park. (The Saturn would have refused to give me the key, but Ruby Saturday doesn’t have a key to hold hostage.) Lesson learned.
Ah, but that wasn’t the end. When I came out, I got in, put my foot on the brake and pushed the button, and once I’d backed out of my parking space (with the screen displaying the backup camera’s viewpoint) and shifted into Drive, no music. What the fuck?
A big icon filled up that little screen telling me…what? I thought it was telling me the Bluetooth wasn’t working. So I switched over to the radio, but no radio. And the damn icon wouldn’t let me change things at all. I played with it for a couple of minutes (back in Park), but to no avail.
So I drove my brand-new, bright-red Yaris named Ruby Saturday back to the dealership and whined to the young man in the service bay, “I’ve only had it for a week-and-a-half, and this happened.”
And you know what he said? You know what he said after he said it wasn’t the Bluetooth? He pointed to the icon on the screen and said, “It’s on mute.” And proceeded to show me all the places I could turn the mute off.
Progress. We can’t live without it, but it’s damn irritating to live with.