The car didn’t hear me say it had done good.
Of course it didn’t. It’s a car; any feelings or sentiment were only going to come from from my wife or me.
But as it was being hooked to the back of the tow truck — not even on the flatbed because a truck was already there — I felt it important to acknowledge the 2003 Toyota Corolla that had been our longer-drive car, and run incredibly well right until the end.
Because it had done good. It had done real good.
My wife will text all day long, but she hates talking on the phone, so it was odd to see her name come up on the screen, and at 8:30 a.m. on a Thursday … yeah, I was definitely worried something really bad had happened.
But she was perfectly calm as she told me she had gotten T-boned. The worst thing that had happened was her coffee had spilled.
It was at a four-way stop. It didn’t appear to be a particularly hard hit, and she drove it to work — the accident was around the corner from her office — and home that night.
We figured we’d down to one car for a little while, but once we got things sorted with the insurance company, we’d take it to the local body shop, get it repaired and have it back on the road.
So it was a bit of a blow when the insurance appraiser said it should be totaled. But it still ran great! It didn’t look like that big of a hit!
As best as we can figure, the location of the collision — right where the door met the fender — bent the frame or badly damaged the hinges. The latter was my father’s guess, and he has forgotten more about cars than I’ll know in 10 lifetimes.
The immediate thing we had to figure out was how to make do with one car.
We’re fortunate that we both work in the same town, 10 minutes apart, and both of our schedules are flexible, especially mine.
So most days, I drove her to work, then went back to my office. Then I would pick her up at the end of the day and take her home.
Being directionally challenged, I had always taken a direct route to her office, but she had a tricky way down side streets to avoid most of the traffic. Much to my shock, it only took a couple days for me to memorize it.
The big thing was remembering to turn at Harrington Avenue and not missing it, because from one direction the sign was mostly hidden by trees.
After three weeks, my wife started joking to her coworkers that I was her driver, and we had accepted we needed a new car.
No, not this one, joking Facebook and Instagram post — or the comment from a friend asking if it was my anniversary gift to her — aside.
There’s a fork in the road down the hill from our house with a small area that has become a staging spot for whatever people are looking to get rid of — cars, mostly, but we have also seen construction equipment, just in case someone was looking for a bucket loader.
My wife saw the car as we were coming home from the gym. It was gone the next day.
At the risk of continuing to anthropomorphize motor vehicles, each car has its own personality, and we’re having to learn our new car’s.
It’s another Corolla, but it’s a completely different car, and not just because it has a dashboard display that will probably take me weeks to fully figure out.
It looks different, it drives different — well, but different — and it feels different.
If you drive a car long enough, you know where everything is. You know what it’s going to do when you step on the gas. You know how the seats feel, how the steering wheel feels. It’s like a favorite recliner or a favorite pair of slippers.
Meanwhile, my wife says driving the new car is like driving a rental car.
We’ll get used to it.