Friday, September 19, 2008

"Dirty Driving"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

The good news in the Zezima family is that my younger daughter, Lauren, has a new car that she has somehow managed to keep spotlessly clean since she bought it in July.

The bad news is that the remains of Jimmy Hoffa were not found in her old car, which would have given her enough money so I wouldn’t have had to co-sign a loan for her new car.

To say that Lauren’s old car was messy is like saying the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground. In fact, she could have filled that hole with all the junk that had to be removed from a vehicle that was essentially a garbage dump on wheels.

I must admit that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (I think Lauren did, indeed, find an apple in that mess) because until I got my present car, none of the many automobiles I have had the displeasure of owning could have passed the white glove test, although gloves were definitely needed to avoid contracting some horrible disease.

The worst was a jalopy I dubbed the Hatchback of Notre Dame. Not only was it so messy that it made Lauren’s old car look as sterile as the surgical unit in a hospital, but it took on water every time it rained. No one could ever find the source of the leak, which created a pool on the floor of the front passenger side. It also created tides: When I drove uphill, the water rushed to the back. When I drove downhill, the water rushed to the front.

I finally totaled the stupid thing when the brakes failed at an intersection. It was, of course, a lucky brake for me.

My next two cars, as well as the clunkers I had before the hatchback, also could have been condemned by the board of health except that no inspector in his right mind would have been seen dead in them, probably because that’s the way he would have ended up.

Four years ago, when I turned 50, I got a new car. Suddenly, I turned over a new leaf and, for the first time since I got my driver’s license, cleaned up my act. I gave my old car, which contained old leaves, to my wife, who in turn gave her car to Lauren. It’s the one Lauren was driving – and filling with so much stuff that there was barely enough room in the backseat for her little dog, Maggie – until she got her new car.

A few weeks ago, Lauren decided to go car shopping. She went to a Volkswagen dealership because she had her eye on a Jetta. She had her other eye on my wallet, which contained my driver’s license, which I would need to verify my meager existence so I could co-sign her loan, which Lauren, to her credit (my credit is lousy), is paying.

Anyway, she saw a 2005 model, which was shown to her by an automotive associate named Anthony, who is about my age and, like me, has adult children. He spent a lot of time with Lauren each of the three or four times she visited the dealership; went over all the details with my wife, who accompanied Lauren on one of her visits; let me test-drive the car when I went to see it; and didn’t put any pressure on any of us. In short, Anthony gave used-car salesmen a good name.

But he was no match for Lauren when it came to negotiating the price, which he lowered to what she said she could afford and not a penny more.

So now, at 25, which is half the age I was when I cleaned up my act, Lauren has done the same. Her car has been spanking clean for almost three months. Even the dog is impressed.

The downside is that my wife’s car is messy. And she wants a new one, too.

Copyright 2008 by Jerry Zezima

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A tidal wave in a hatchback. I suspect you were Ground Zero for our environmental woes. Your story brought me back to my rusty 1966 Plymouth Fury. I had to peek through the steering wheel in order to drive. Your 4'11" fan.