My first car was a hand-me-down. And, not only was it a hand-me-down, but my mother bought it from a car rental agency, drove it for five or six years and then handed it down to me. It always ran perfectly, for some reason, but superficially it was kind of a mess. A new piece would fall off of something at least once a week and every time I had a new passenger I would have to reassure them that it was not their fault when the center console suddenly plopped down into their lap. There was neither heat nor air-conditioning and the windows didn’t work, so in the summer I would have someone permanently fix them down, then reverse it for winter. I loved that car! Its death was premature and unnatural; a drunk driver smashed into it one night as it sat, innocently parked in front of my house. I know it wouldn’t have lasted forever, but if any car ever deserved to go until its very end, it was that one.
Our old limos, on the other hand, got to drive into their graves. Only five years old, they each had over 200,000 miles on them. And, no, it’s not because other people are special and get to ride in them to San Francisco when you’re told “no”. They racked it all up on trips that averaged around 4 miles each. I wonder if any of you noticed how they had started sputtering around? Certainly you could not have missed that, like my beloved red car, some of the not-so-vital pieces had started to go cockeyed. I guess you probably didn’t know that we had our fingers crossed everyday, hoping it wasn’t yet time for a guest to get stranded en route to the airport. Now that we’ve got our shiny brand new limos and are safe for another five years, I can tell you how close we shaved it: One of the old workhorses died about 25 miles into its drive away from home. The transmission just gave up.
The new ones are great, all sparkly and perfect. Still, I have to confess, I’ll like them better once someone has opened a door into one and a bellman has clipped a pole with the other. You know, once they’ve built a little character.