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Friday, June 9, 2017


"You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon?…It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs." - Han Solo


I need a new car.

I'm still living in the last millennium, myself. I bought my 1999 Hyundai Elantra in 2011, from my man Roy at Dynamite Auto Sales in Phoenix, Arizona.

I was leaving town in a hurry, and needed wheels that could get me from there to here. I told him I had exactly two thousand bucks on me, and that I'd give him every penny of it to get me off the lot. I told him he could mail me the paperwork. He made it happen.

I'm pretty sure I hate this car.

That's no knock on Roy, who has helped me out many times. Dynamite didn't build the car. Hell, he gave it to me with brand new tires on it. But the power windows have never worked. The seatbelt constantly applies pressure to my left clavicle. It rides rough, sits too low, and displays no information on the radio.

It has hit me up for more than a few repairs: Wheel bearing. Radiator. Mass air flow sensor. Fuel pump. Clutch kit. Axle shaft. Driver's side door. Starter.

I am so sick of this car.

For all the grief it has given me, I've put over 50,000 miles on it. I've only found a couple other Elantras in our regional junk yards, so I guess they never die. It blows heat. The rust-free Arizona undercarriage is still solid. It gets 40 miles to the gallon on the freeway.

I can't get rid of this car.

As it sits, it still needs rear struts. The exhaust is cobbled together with soup cans and radiator clamps. It's time for tires again. The windows will never be right.

Try selling a car in that condition. Am I about to sink $500 into it to get $500 more out of it? No... Am I to sell it for $500 as is and then spend all that plus much more to replace it? With what? 

I am stuck with this car.

It has earned a few nicknames. The Gray Ghost. Little Grizzly. Millennium Falcon. It runs great, with a 16-valve, 2-liter engine mated to a short-throw, five-speed manual transmission. It's fast... Less than 12 parsecs.

The first time I had my nephew Charlie in the car, I warned him - Uncle Paul drives crazy sometimes. (And if you say that, you have to back it up.) Almost every time one of his buddies got in my car with him, he proudly informed them, "Better buckle up. Uncle Paul drives crazy sometimes."

He loved this car.

My place of employment was right by where his Dad lived, so I gave Charlie a lot of rides. He had to hear a good number of Uncle Paul stories. Some of them, he soaked right up. Others put him to sleep.

I sometimes put NPR on the radio for those rides, or on the many occasions on which I picked him up from school. At the conclusion of the journey, I often asked for his opinion on what they were talking about. And he'd give it to me.

I just don't want this car anymore.

I could really use a pickup truck. An automatic transmission would be a welcome difference, too. Up here, a four wheel drive is practically a must (though I'm telling you the truth: Little Grizzly has never gotten stuck).

The memories that are soaked into the oxidized paint, the grimy cloth interior, the greasy engine compartment - they make me want to part with it even though I would get almost nothing for it. And they make me keep it long after its day is done.

Maybe some of you have similar feelings; I don't know. I'll leave it at that. I have to go now. It's a beautiful afternoon...

I guess I'll wash the car.

pH 6.o9.17


Editor's Note:  On Thursday, September 14th, 2017, the Little Grizzly was sold for $200. The new owner indicated he would harvest its valuable organs and sell what remained as scrap metal.

"Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another." - Albert Einstein