“Hit my brakes, out slid Skittles“ – Sir Mix-A-Lot, My Hooptie, 1989
My car has a small piece of a wire hanger sticking out of its front grille that serves as a pull for the latch that opens the hood. My car is a metallic champagne 1988 Merecedes Benz 300E. Legend has it that the original owner of this car was the professional basketball player Detlef Shrempf of Seattle Supersonics fame. This exciting fact was imparted to me by the nice family that sold me the car three years ago after I totaled my previous metallic champagne 1988 Mercedes Benz 300E. I paid them $1200.00 for the privilege of owning this car. That’s approximately $40,800.00 less than Detlef paid for it back in the day.
The wire hanger pull has been there since about a year ago when I got stuck in the public library parking lot with a dead battery for the third time in about a week. I flagged down a nice man who said he could jump-start the car. I went to pull the latch to open the hood so he could hook up the cables, and it broke off in my hand. There was no way to open the hood at this point, so the nice man drove away leaving me and my children in the cold and dark with a dead battery. I tried to call my boyfriend to help us, but he didn’t answer his cell phone. At this point I was forced to call one of my surrogate husbands who came and picked me up in his giant Suburban and drove me and the children home. Later my boyfriend helped me Macgyver this little hanger thing, and there it stays is to this day.
Yesterday the friendly Fed Ex man came by my office to drop off a package. I haven’t seen him for a while. I went to sign my name on his little handheld computer and he said “Chris, right?”, I said “Wow, good memory!”, then he said “well, I remember you because you drive a Mercedes!”. He remembers me because I drive a 25-year-old $1200.00 Mercedes with a piece of wire hanger sticking out of the grille.
My boyfriend is afraid to drive the car. He took it to the store one day and said “is that a car you have there, or a small studio apartment?” I suppose he was referring to the surging piles of detritus I keep on hand: clothing, coats, gloves, receipts, notebooks, water bottles, yoga mats, shoes, potato chips, work papers, and other miscellany. He also said, “I don’t really like driving your car on the freeway because I’m afraid it’s going to explode.“. I can just imagine him standing in the middle of I-5 with flaming yoga pants and other detritus raining down on him.
When I totaled my last (identical) Mercedes, I was driving down the street and smashed into a car that backed out in front of me. I didn’t even have time to hit the brakes. My car was like a tank and totally demolished the rear end of the other car. The damage my car sustained was minimal, but it doesn’t take much to total a car that is valued at $1200.00. Fortunately no one was injured. My youngest child who was sitting in the back seat at the time said “Mommy why did all those crumbs go flying through the air?”.
I’m not sure how many miles this car has been driven because the odometer stopped functioning at 128K miles. I’m guessing though, that we’re heading towards 200K. Apparently in certain parts of Africa, there are thousands of these cars living a happy second life. They are well made and fairly basic to repair which is why they work well in Africa and why they work well for me. I always have a special man in my life to help me when things aren’t working. Some people refer to these men as mechanics, I think of them more as compassionate saviors. The two that I’ve worked with through the years have done everything they can to keep me driving my car for the least amount of hassle and expense possible. I have a special place in my heart for them.
Tonight I will be driving my daughter and date to her “Winterball” festivities. It’s a good thing my boyfriend has a car that will serve as an acceptable chariot for this event. Whenever my children ask me “Mommy when are you gonnna get a new car?” I just remind them of all the things this car affords them, and they quit asking. Besides, if this car was good enough for Detlef, its good enough for us! May she carry us another 100,000 miles.