Saturday, April 20, 2013

1995 Escort

Goodbye, old companion.

My under-powered, rattle-trap, misaligned little red '95 Escort died a long and painful death over the course of the past week.

I can't believe I don't have a picture of it!
I stole this pic from here because it looks just like mine...
(minus the bumps, bruises and kid-style "improvements").
The car lived a full life.  It was purchased new by my husband's grandmother, who drove it to the mailbox and back, and to church on Sundays.  My husband's father took care of it for her, and so it was in pretty good shape (for what it was) when he acquired it from her in 2002.

At the time, I was doing my student teaching, and my husband (boyfriend at the time) would come over every day to drive me to school.  I lived in a part of Seattle called Ballard in a studio apartment in the top floor of a house.  It was on a classically steep Seattle hill, such that the poor little car didn't have enough oomph to get all the way up.  He would have to get as far out as he could, perpendicular to the cross street, hope for no cross traffic, and take a running start to get the car up to the house.

Over the years, this little car acquired many bumps and bruises.  I backed out of the garage before the door was completely up and scraped off the spoiler.  My husband glued it back on with masonry adhesive.  There was some freaky wiring thing that ran through the trunk that made the reverse lights die, and made the car unable to shift higher than 2nd gear when the headlights were on.  THAT one took a while to figure out!  So, periodically, my husband had to stand on his head in the trunk, splice wires together and wrap them all in electrical tape so that my car could run.

My husband crashed into something and the front right fender and corner of the hood became mangled.  He beat them back into some semblance of shape, but they were always crumpled.  I backed into a large light pole in a parking lot, so the rear left corner had a big yellow scar about 2 feet long.  I called it my racing stripe.  The heat shield was loose and so the car rattled in idle.  It was too low to clear most curbs or parking stops, so it would always scrape.

There was automatic NOTHING on this car (okay, transmission, but that is it).  The passenger side door lock was missing because it was popped when the car was towed while we were on our honeymoon...long story. The back windows were plastered with stickers from the kids, and the back seats were stained with...whatever kid stains are made of.  The rear defrost button was broken, only the right side speakers worked, and the front passenger window leaked.

This car drove me to and from every job interview I ever had, took us on adventures to Canada, Oregon, Minnesota and all the states in between, to Mount Rainier, trick-or-treating, my daughter to her first day of school, my parents to the airport numerous was a decent car.  I even went through labor in that car, both quickly each time that both of my children were almost born in it.  I think the passenger door had a dent on the inside from where I was pounding on it.

How many times did I strangle myself on the seatbelt?  It had that 90's thing where the top of the shoulder strap would travel down to the front of the car when the door was open.  Hypothetically, let's say I dropped my credit card at the drive-thru and popped the door to pick up the card, only to have the seatbelt wrap around my head and try to decapitate me.  Hypothetically, of course.  About five times.

I always had a kind of love-hate relationship with that car.  But now that she's gone, I feel somewhat sad.  It wasn't beautiful to behold, but dang it, it always got me there and back again!

The death pains started last week:  the car would die when it idled in gear.  It did it once or twice.  Then, it started to do it at every chance it had.  Forget putting it in reverse, that just killed the engine immediately.  I took it to Midas and sat for 3 hours (thank goodness for a job I can do from anywhere!) while they changed the oil and the fuel filter, checked the spark plugs and ran a few diagnostics.  Nothing showed up for them, and for the next 12 hours or so, the car ran fine.  Then it started to stall again, and on Thursday I thought I was going to end up walking home.  Thursday afternoon, when I started the car to go get my son from daycare, it sounded like an enormous jackhammer in my garage.  It really startled me!

My husband tore into it that night, and eventually had to take Friday off of work to deal with it.  He took it to Midas again, and they had a master mechanic take a peek.  The car has totaled itself from the inside out, because we are looking at probably a few thousand just to find out what is wrong.  Apparently there is something in the valves in these cars that dies...I don't know, I'm not well versed in such things.  Needless to say, the car is a goner.

I look forward to driving a new-to-me car, hopefully one with more living space.  It would be nice to take my kids' bikes to the trails in the summer, or have room for a trip to IKEA.  I will certainly always remember my little red Escort.

Goodbye old frenemy.  You will be missed, in your own way.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

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