Skimp My Ride

Don’t talk about my car. You know how guests on “talk shows” like Maury or Jerry Springer will literally break a chair over someone’s head if they mention the former’s mother? That’s how I feel (internally, thus far) when others try to brin

Don’t talk about my car. You know how guests on “talk shows” like Maury or Jerry Springer will literally break a chair over someone’s head if they mention the former’s mother? That’s how I feel (internally, thus far) when others try to bring up my ride.

Here’s the deal: A 1991 Honda Accord, my car has been on this earth longer than some of my friends. With 230,000 miles, the hoopty has seen better days. I can’t afford to buy a new car, and since I usually walk to work, I don’t need one right now. So for short-distance trips or on rainy days, I depend on the Accord. And while I don’t feel the certain attachment to my car (or the need to name it) like some people, I can’t help but cringe when amateur mechanics try to give their unsolicited assessment.

It’s kind of a piece of crap. I know that. There’s a lingering aroma of wet dog and burnt rubber, it consistently leaks oil and, though checked out by multiple professionals, my tires will sporadically lose air overnight. Do I take all the necessary steps to ensure I get the most out of it? Absolutely not. It’s not something I’m proud to admit, but keeping up with this car is one of those responsibilities I’m just not willing to give 100 percent. And I think other humans should respect that.

One big deterrent from me keeping up on the Accord is the terror of going to a gas station. If you frequent the city’s core you know gas stations within a three-mile radius of downtown are generally the most stressful places on the Western hemisphere. And if you’re not paying at the pump and must go inside, you’re going to have some unsavory interactions with strangers. That’s a given.

Unfortunately, exiting the station’s storefront does not guarantee that the coast is clear. Apparently, people have some type of radar that detects a female working on her car. You may be thinking, “Yeah, it’s called kindness, bitch.” And true, sometimes the offers of help might be genuine. But usually they seem to come from a creepy or obligatory place and make me uncomfortable.

It’s not always strangers, either. I live on a street full of people who are generally on their shit. They landscape and line up their garbage cans and jog every morning. They probably find my ride an eyesore. So I can’t help but pick up on a tinge of pretentiousness when one asks, “Did you know your car is leaking oil on the street?”

All of my automobile neuroses came to a head on a recent trip to see my mom. During the drive from downtown to West Chester — which took an excruciating 80 minutes — my oil light illuminated. It wasn’t a surprise. The light had been flickering throughout the last few drives I had made. But 5 p.m. was approaching and I needed to get on the highway to sit in traffic as soon as possible. I figured a few extra minutes wouldn’t make my car explode or anything, and a nice suburban gas station was just a handful of miles away. 

Finally, I came to an exit that would lead to oil and a non-highway route to the Dub C. I parked behind the BP (I know they killed baby ducks, but it was an emergency) and ran inside to bask in the cool air. I purchased two bottles of the highest quality 5W-30, so I’d have extra in the car for next time. I was unduly proud as I made my way to the car. 

I popped the hood, let everything cool for a minute and proceeded to try to remove the filter cap. It wouldn’t budge. I dug through my trunk for some kind of gripping material, but nothing worked. What’s worse is I hadn’t removed it since I last took it to my mechanic, where it got screwed on super tightly months ago. I knew I’d have to eventually admit this fact. Covered in grit and completely defeated, I looked around for help. Of course, there was no one around this time. And the heat may have been getting to me, but I could have sworn I saw a tumbleweed glide across the barren parking lot. Would I have accepted help if it was offered? I don’t know. Embarrassment, which is the root of the problem, might have taken over. 

I still don’t take the best care of my Accord, and probably never will, but I did amend my motto. Don’t talk about my car, unless I’m crying next to it.


Scroll to read more Opinion articles

Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.