Saturday, September 16, 2006
Is it Gestalt? Or word association?
My first car was a 1960 Volkswagen, but my first "new" car was a used 1981 Ford Escort. I had a lot of fun with it in college, driving it all over the mountains around Clemson and off to court my future wife in Charleston.
At 45,000 it threw the timing belt, a design flaw of the '81 model, and wrecked several valves, forecasting the future for the little two-door. It did this twice more and finally stalled the last time at 83,000 miles. I pushed it home, worked on it for a while, and got a trade-in valuation of $250 when we towed it to the dealership at nine years old.
Though we had decided never to buy another Escort, we were expecting our first child and had one dead car in the driveway and a Datsun/Nissan Sentra starting to show its age as well. It was definitely time to get a more realiable vehicle. As it happened in God's Providence, the best buy was a new, last-year's-overstock 1989 Escort station wagon. Our first brand new vehicle, then, was the second Escort, which was the family Conestoga to California and back. It was our main vehicle until 1996; I installed an after-market seat belt in the back to make it a "five" passenger arrangement. When our first son's feet extended between the front seats, with him in the back and a baby seat on either side of him, we bought our first van.
That Escort developed inexplicable electrical problems the next year, and while waiting at our mechanic's for repair, was swallowed up by Hurricane Floyd's floodwaters. Scrap value at ten years: $36.
Recently my work vehicle, a well-seasoned Chevy Blazer, developed a very disturbing rattle which was diagnosed as a failing piston bearing. Since we have three vehicles at the moment, the Blazer has been sidelined for the time being.
The peculiar thing is that more than once when I've mentioned the Blazer in casual conversation, I said "Escort". Obviously my subconscious mind has permanently associated "defective vehicle" with "Ford Escort"; I suppose that's enevitable when you spent the better part of ten years visiting repair shops in several states. And I can't say it's a Chevrolet mindset, since I'm currently driving a Jeep and have very happy memories of my VW and the Nissan along the way.