Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Car

Last Sunday, the tow company the BMW dealership recommended came out to get the car. The driver smelled like stale cigarettes and did not fill me with confidence. I had cleared everything out from behind the car so all he needed to do was get it out of the garage and load it on to his truck.

When I called to make the appointment to have the car towed, I told the gal the car was dead. The tow truck driver seemed a little surprised by this information. The car was so dead we couldn't even use the key to manually pop the trunk so he could get to the tow hookup. We also couldn't figure out how to manually release the shift lock, as that is conveniently not in the owner's manual. He called his office to tell them there was no power to the car at all. I stood right there as he said this. He got off the phone and told me that they were going to have to come back the next day (Monday) with a different kind of truck and they were going to have to attach wheels to the car so they could pull it out of the garage. I told him I had to work, but was only 15 minutes away and to call when they were 20 minutes out so I could meet them at the house. He called the gal at the office back to set up the appointment and again, I was standing right there when he said "she" will be at work and to give "her" 20 minutes notice.

Monday morning, shortly after 9:00, the gal from the office called me to let me know the driver was at my house and asked if I was at work. I flew out of the building thinking that when I got back to work I was going to have to send a follow up e-mail to my best friend telling her my hunch about the tow company not calling until they got to my house was right.

There were two guys this time and I felt more at ease with them. One of them took the key from me, got in the car, tried to start it and told his co-worker there was no power to the car at all. Does the gal in the office not listen or bother to communicate with her drivers? Or do they just not believe her? They hooked up the wheel things to the car and pulled it out of the garage. I almost threw up when they started to pull it out. And then I started wondering if the neighbors thought I was having the car repossessed. I was really hoping they didn't think that. I don't know why that mattered, but it did. After they left with the car, I went in and let the dogs out of their crate and gave them pets and treats. I needed time so I wasn't following the tow truck.

There wasn't a set timeline on when the car would be ready. I have my Lancer so I wasn't stranded. They called my work number after I had already left for the day on Wednesday to let me know I could pick it up anytime. I ended up picking it up on Friday, with the help of my boss who was kind enough to drive me over to the dealership.

The weather on Friday was less than ideal which did not help my nervousness about driving the car any. I had to have the service tech show me how to move the seat forward so I could reach the pedals. I figured out how to adjust the mirrors, turn on the heated seats and the windshield wipers and off I went.

I did okay driving it back to work. I didn't cry or throw up, though I wanted to do both, and I remembered to breathe most of the way. I realized after I crossed the Interstate Bridge I was holding my breath but that is the only time I had to tell myself to breathe and I was at least halfway back by then. The BMW is just so different than my Lancer is. After almost 5 years, I know my car very well. I know how much lead time I need for the brakes, I know how much tension I need on the steering wheel, I know what all the knobs and buttons are for, and where they are. Driving the BMW is well, it's like driving a foreign car, German manufacturing aside.

Now I have a decision to make. I have to keep driving the BMW so I don't kill it again. Yesterday, I had to go over to Portland so I drove my car. I needed to be in a car I am comfortable in driving to a part of town I was unfamiliar with. Today, I drove the BMW to the grocery store. I think I finally have the seat adjusted to where I am comfortable with it, and I fixed one of the radio presets. James has them set up in the order he liked the stations. His station selection is fine; they just need to be preset in numerical order.

I don't know why I am making this so much more difficult than it needs to be. The bottom line is I don't need 2 cars and mine is the logical choice, the practical choice for the car to keep because it is the more economical of the two. But the BMW is such a nice car (did I mention it has heated seats? I could kiss the person who came up with that idea!). And I have to drive it for a bit because I have to be sure about this. Once I sell one of them, I can't take it back.

My co-workers told me that whatever is right for me is the practical decision, even if it turns out not to be the more economical decision. They are right, but I can't get past the dollar signs (the accountant in me just never seems to go away). I also look at the cars and I see the BMW as a status symbol: pretentious, rich people drive BMWs. The Lancer is cute and fun. The BMW has (almost) all the bells and whistles. The Lancer is very simple. The Lancer is more my personality. My friend asked if I can separate the cars from what they are. Can I see them for what they offer and not as a BMW and Mitsubishi? I thought that was a great idea. He said this was a much easier decision for him as they had one nice car and one crappy car so it was a no brainer which to keep. He said he didn't know what he would have done if he was in my situation and had two nice cars to choose from. The vibe I got from him is he thinks I should keep the BMW. It's a much smoother ride. He's due to have surgery and when I help him run errands afterward, it won't hurt as much when I hit the bumps in the road, which contrary to what he likes to tell people, I did not do on purpose last time. Sadly for him, keeping the nicer car is not actually going to magically turn me into a better driver.

I have thought about putting them both up for sale and letting fate decide: the one that sells first is the one that is meant to go. It shouldn't be this hard. They're cars. They are nothing more than a means to get from Point A to Point B. I should just be able to go out into the garage, look at the cars and tell one of them they are out. So why can't I? Because one of them, James picked out for me. He test drove it and knew it wasn't for him but would be perfect for me and it has been. And the other was the car he looked for for so long. The car he died in. Because it happened so suddenly, what if part of him is still trapped in there? How do I detach myself? And how do I stop getting so emotionally attached to everything in the first place? Sometimes, I really do wish I was an unfeeling robot.

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