Good and Faithful Servant -- 08/26/03

A flatbed truck hauled away our little old Honda Civic yesterday -- donated to charity.
The only picture of the car I could come up with quickly was one from this past winter, snow-covered in our driveway. This morning had been a bit confused -- our Mazda pickup's hydraulic clutch had a leak -- and an appointment to get it fixed -- but by the time Monday morning came, the clutch was too far gone to drive it, so I had to call for a tow truck to take it the mile or two to the repair shop. When I finally left for work -- probably four or five miles along my way -- the thought struck me that I should have taken a picture of the Honda to put here on the web, to go along with a little entry about it. I had been told they would come for it on Monday or Tuesday, so I figured I probably had a fifty-fifty chance that it would still be in the driveway when I came home -- but they must have come for it shortly after I left for work.

Jennifer had been up late and was sleeping in a bit. When she did get up around ten or so she was distressed to see that the Honda was gone -- there were still some stickers and decals on it that she had wanted to peel off to put on her looseleaf school notebook. (You must understand that I had not renewed the registration when it expired at the end of July, so the car had been parked in exactly the same place in our driveway all month long, waiting to be taken away as a charitable donation -- this wasn't exactly a surprise event.)

We got a lot of miles out of that little car.

Five years ago -- late in June of 1998 -- I was putting my lunch into a refrigerator at work when I saw a note that a co-worker had put on the refrigerator door: 1991 Honda Civic, 115k miles, $3000. I made arrangements to come by her house and look at it on a Saturday, took it for a drive, stopped at home with it, decided to buy it. (I was driving a rather battered Chevy Nova at the time -- that car became a donation to charity.)

The little Honda Civic was my commuter car -- it was a strange light blue -- sort of teal (not quite like the background color here, in fact, its color was variable, sun-faded in places) -- a two door hatch-back. We had a burst of hot weather that July, right after I purchased it -- so I had the air-conditioning serviced and enjoyed coolness on my commute... for about a week or two before the coolant leaked away. (As my daughter phrased it on her webpage, for her the air-conditioning controls were just dashboard decorations.) I didn't just drive it back and forth to work and to the supermarket, I went on trips with it... once up to Cape Anne, further up the coast past Boston.

I drove that car the rest of 1998 and into 1999. In the fall of '99 I bought my Toyota Corolla (the car I'm still driving) and gave the Honda Civic to my daughter. Yes, it was her first car... so you can see that she might have formed a sentimental attachment to it. She was a high school senior, and seniors were entitled to a parking permit for the high school's parking lot. (There was almost no other parking for several blocks around the school.)

Soon she had the car personalized -- stickers and decals on the rear window and the hatchback door and the rear side windows and the front and back bumpers... toys on the dashboard... glow-in-the-dark stars on the inside of the roof. She drove that car to high school and then to college, commuting to Providence for classes (except for one semester when she had briefly changed schools and was commuting to Warwick, RI)... and to work... and off to go shopping (or just in search of adventure) with her friends, to the Warwick malls, to Providence, to Emerald Square Mall in Massachusetts, off to Connecticut to live role-playing weekends, off most any place she wanted to travel. (When she wanted to go as far as Boston we would usually persuade her to take one of our cars instead.)

As the Honda grew older, we attempted to persuade her to get a newer (i.e., safer) car, but she wouldn't dream of giving up her little Civic. Finally, this summer she realized that she could not keep it on the road without making a major investment (replacing the catalytic converter, etc. to try to meet air standards), too large a financial investment for an older car. She bought a Honda Accord -- a very nice car, although she was rather disgruntled to discover she then had to spend several hundred dollars on brake work, etc.

During the last two or three weeks of July her younger brother got to drive the Honda back and forth to his job at KFC. And then, at midnight, July 31st, it made its last trip home and was parked in our driveway.

192,856 miles.

Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

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