The Buick is undeniably and reliably dead.
The Buick is not only merely dead, but really most sincerely dead.
Several weeks ago, after months of a brake warning light being on, the brake lines, which were original (1997), finally gave up the ghost. Yes, I was driving at the time. I was able to coast into and through an intersection, then turn up a small street and come to a safe rolling stop. Warren and I waited for the tow truck, then followed the Buick to my mechanic's shop.
My mechanic is swamped this summer, so it took another three weeks before he and his crew could get the Buick up in the air and look at it. I had already been forewarned by the office staff that I was looking at a major bill.
With 19 years on the car, major terminal rust throughout the body, and a whole host of problems just waiting to bloom, "major bill" meant to me "get ready to give it up."
At the beginning of the fourth week, my mechanic called. Dave and I have done business together for many years, and I appreciate that he wanted to break the news to me gently.
The news was bad. Without even getting into the brake calipers, I was looking at $1200. The underbody rust was so bad that the mechanics had a hard time getting the car hoisted in the air as rusted areas kept giving way.
Then Dave delivered the ultimate words.
"April, I can't advise you put that kind of money into this car. Use the money to get another one."
It was like agreeing to turn off life support. I did so. Dave then put a salvage company in touch with me and we made arrangements to have the remains removed.
Warren and I went out the next evening to clear out the car and remove the license plates. I took photos of the rear bumper, which sported bumper stickers of several kinds:
The BUC-EE'S sticker is from my friend Katrina, who used to live in Texas. We visited the Tennessee Parthenon last fall:
Then there is my favorite presidential sticker ever, right next to the just-went-on-the-bumper Tillamook Cheese sticker from my trip to Oregon this September:
Most of them cannot be replaced. I will miss them all.
For now, we are a one car family, although what with my chemo schedule and Warren's Symphony schedule, we often end up borrowing my dad's truck for a day or two. My office is only a four block walk. Other friends have made generous offers of their vehicles.
I live in a great community.
We are postponing looking for a new car until after mid-August. I will be looking for another older car, albeit now "older" means 21st century. The car may possibly come from the Goodwill auctions in Columbus as I just need reliable wheels. I do not need a car payment, so there will be no new shiny Prius in my future.
It is inconvenient being a one car (and a loaner as needed) family, but this is truly an inconvenience of first-world magnitude. Even within this community, it is a privileged inconvenience at that. Working at the Court and at the Legal Clinic, I know lots of us out there scrape by with no car or no reliable car, which is only marginally better than no car at all. And I know that my inconvenience will be relatively short-lived.
Alas, poor Buick, I knew it well.