I don’t know what it is about car problems, but they’re exceptionally frustrating. More frustrating than a broken phone, getting the flu, failing a test, or whatever unfortunate thing that comes along.
I’ve owned two cars in the five years I’ve been able to drive. The first was a 2001 Volkswagen Beetle, which lasted me four years, and boy did that have it’s share of issues. What came first was a muffler, was then air conditioning, then the alternator, and finally a transmission. I felt like I was always driving in fear that something was going to go wrong. It’s not that it was a bad car, but when the first thing went wrong, my mind raced as to what else could go wrong. It was like I was on a timer and at some point, something new would go wrong. It always seemed to happen at the absolute worst time too.
Considering how old my bug was, it actually lasted me a good amount of time and all of the issues were manageable, until the transmission of course. I always found a way to come up with the money to fix my car, found rides in the meantime, came across a mechanic who was willing to work with a 16-year-old with her own car, and each issue came with it’s own tears when it broke and relief when it was fixed.
This summer, I bought my second car. It was a 2002 Volkswagen Cabrio. I guess I didn’t learn my lesson the first time around since I bought a very similar car to the last one I had. My eyes were definitely bigger than my brain. I somehow managed to convince myself to buy the car, when in reality, I probably should have been patient, saved up a little bit more money and waited around for a more reliable car to come around. But no, I had to have the adorable convertible parked right outside the diner downtown.
I convinced my dad to come with me, cash in hand, all ready to buy my new car. I did buy the car, and it lasted a grand total of three hours. You read that right, three hours. If you can only imagine how devastated I was. But, this was my new car and I was going to figure out what was wrong with it, fix it, and have my fun summer convertible. AAA should probably be on speed dial with how much I have to call them for a tow or lock-out service. I called AAA, within an hour it was towed to my mechanic, and I thought I would be on my way to a fixed car. I told my mechanic to take his time because I had my parents’ extra car that I could use. Boy, was that a mistake.
Two and a half months later, I’m sitting in my parents’ extra car, at my mechanic’s shop, days away from going back to school, and still no fun summer convertible in hand. Dealing with mechanics is an entirely different topic, but what I’m feeling now is a mixture of disappointment, panic, frustration, confusion and inability to figure out what to do. For your average person, car issues are a complete blur. I know next to nothing about cars, so it’s a waiting game, and I’m at the mercy of the knowledge, skill and determination of my mechanic. Clearly his determination is low, since its been two and a half months, and still no car.
What I’m learning, though, is car issues are just a part of life. I can’t let them ruin my day, or my summer in this case. I will have car issues for literally the rest of my life, so better start getting used to them now. A little piece of advice for those of you looking to buy your very first car all on your own: you will have issues, and when you do, never, ever, tell your mechanic to take his time. You will regret it.
We’ll see what I’m driving back to college next Monday!