Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Goodbye Old Friend

I said goodbye to my friend the other day. Strange how attached we become to our cars, particularly those that have been good to us, that have provided us with memories.

Several years ago we moved out of the city and bought a house in the burbs to raise our child. We were moving out when it occurred to me that I would have no way to get to work, as I had for several years enjoyed walking to work in downtown Seattle every day. My neighbor told me that he had just gotten a company car and was selling his little Geo, so I bought it for cash and his wife and I went down to the DMV and transferred the title. I drove that little green car until it would drive no more, rolling to a stop at my mechanic’s for the last time. Walt told me how many thousands of dollars it would cost me to get the Geo back on the road, when the blue book value was about $800. Next door, at the Ford dealership, a blue Mustang caught my eye. It had been ordered by someone whose financing fell through, and I bought it.

I tried to hide it from my wife, but that didn’t last long. I was in my driveway with my friend Matt when my wife came out and said, “Whose car is this?”

Shortly thereafter I got the Tahoe, which I drove to work every day. The Mustang stayed in the garage until the weekends. On Saturdays I would take her out and drive her around while I ran errands. I’d wash her and drive her to my standing Saturday night movie date with Mike.

Last summer Mike and I took the Mustang on a 4,000 mile road trip down the Pacific coast, across the desert to Texas, and around the Gulf of Mexico before heading north to South Carolina. I opened her up on the Pacific Coast Highway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and she handled like a dream. It was the best driving experience of my life, one I would heartily recommend.

Last Friday I began to cross an intersection near my home on a green light. I saw a truck barreling towards me and stopped my car, but he was going too fast to stop, and never braked. The 62-year-old driver of a purple Ford F-150 ran a red light going about 50 miles per hour in a 35 zone and plowed into the driver’s side of the Mustang before losing control, leaving the road, crossing the sidewalk through the landscaping of a shopping center before crashing into a tree. The force of the impact spun my car around and propelled me in the same direction he was travelling. I came to a stop 40 feet away.

I recall dialing 911 on my cell phone and pressing SEND, but never lifted the phone to my ear. Debris was everywhere. Despite a sore leg and hip, I was able to get out of my vehicle. I could see that the driver of the Ford truck was slumped over his steering wheel, immobile. I would leave his fate to others. The next few minutes are a blank, but then there were three police cars and an ambulance parked nearby. The EMT, I recall, was most annoying. I wanted him to go away. There was no way I was going anywhere in an ambulance. I was worried about my car.

The Mustang was bleeding heavily. There was radiator fluid everywhere. I picked up the grill off the street. The hood was hanging against the passenger side door. I noticed that the frame was bent about 30 degrees. There will be no repairing her.

The real tragedy is this: I found out the gentleman who hit me has passed away. I thank God that I am walking and breathing right now. My prayers and sympathies are with his family.

I had some great times in that car, many with my daughter, who patted me Friday afternoon and offered sympathy as only a child can. “You’ll get another car, Daddy, but I don’t think you’d like a truck. Maybe another green car like you had before.”

If anyone has a 1996 Geo Prism for sale, let me know. I'm buying.


Rick said...


I recommend 1999-2003 Mini Coopers. Roll cages and a fun drive. Happy & safe motoring.

Caryn Kirk said...

Eh? Did you forget? When you bought the Mustang, you refused to tell me what kind of car you'd bought. I had to wait for three days until you brought it home... on Valentine's Day. I'll always think of the Mustang as your 2006 Valentine's Day present to yourself.

The "whose car it that?" question was directed at the Tahoe. It disappeared as mysteriously as it arrived.

Patrick said...

Sorry to hear about the accident and your car, but I'm grateful that you're okay.