Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Through the Looking Glass

My wife loved her 1989 Saab.

It has been 10 years since this car was pried from her hands. To this day, I am still reminded that I was responsible for her parting with the best automobile she ever drove. Forget that, by the end,  it was literally held together by push pins.The fabric from the interior roof sagged in unintended places, threatening to obscure the driver's vision, and the sun roof had become more of a meteorologist, informing us by clear and very wet reminder when it was raining. By the time we parted company, even our initial attempt to donate this impaired elder stateswoman was rejected.

I was reminded of the Saab last night.

In 2001, a new member of our family entered. An Audi. Over the years it has presented more than its share of challenges. Principally,  its electrical system has often operated outside the comprehension not only of our family but those seemingly enlightened souls entrusted with maintaining its condition. Yet through the flashing lights and warnings we long ago learned to ignore, this car has endured.

Now well into its second decade, it decided some time ago that it would no longer perform the task of heating or air conditioning those inside its confines unless it deemed it appropriate. This has proved an uncomfortable reality on warm summer days, but it is in the winter that the real impact can be felt.

And so it was last night, as my wife and I entered the car for a journey of only several blocks.

Now, it is wholly not our nature to make demands on this car, or any other vehicle, for such short distance. That is what god gave us two feet for. But not when it was windy, about 15 degrees and dropping like a stone.

Recent attempts to use the car during the day had proven a challenge. You see, in the cold weather, its inside had become a kind of refrigeration unit. And so, due to the unfortunate necessity of breathing, each time my wife and I entered the vehicle, the front windshield almost immediately fogged up and froze. The cold weather kept the windows from operating  so to allow some of the air we were exhaling to escape the interior confines. Thus we were forced to use cloth, gloves, anything within reach to try to create enough of a window of opportunity to see the direction in which we were headed.

But last night made that all seem child's play. When we finally were able to pry the doors open to enter its domain, even before our first breath had been taken, we were greeted with what appeared to be a layer of ice on the inside of the front windshield. The cloth proved no match, and thus the scraper, whose purpose was theoretically to handle exterior issues, was soon fully engaged. Little lines of clearing appeared, matched by what now seemed a small snowstorm dumping a nice white coating on the dashboard, the steering wheel and the front seats.

After several minutes of strenuous manual labor we had managed both a small opening through which a sliver of the outside world was available, and a somewhat significant snowfall.

When, one might ask, is it time? When is enough, too much? I know that my wife has no attachment to this machine, any more than she would a dishwasher. This is not her beloved old friend, her Saab. This thing, this almost broken down thing, has not proven a reliable friend of ours, but rather a quirky eccentric even in the best of times.

But the reality is that it may not be the moment to part company. Sure we have to put an extra layer of clothing on whenever we contemplate making use of its services. And yes, it seems impervious to our entreaties. But, remarkably the front heated seats still work wonderfully, and so, as long as we hold our breath for the duration of whatever trip we are taking, we have a reasonable chance to be at least partially warmed and fully intact when we reach our destination. And winters are never really that cold for that long, or summers that steamy.

And so, our 2001 Audi lives another day. I know that my wife firmly believes that if only I were so understanding 10 years ago, her old perfect companion would be transporting her still. Pushpins, puddles and all.


El Ganso said...

To an impartial observer, it does sound like it's time to say goodbye to this vehicle. Not that you asked!!

NL said...

We must introduce Audi 2001 to Windstar 2000. We call her "Little Miss Sunshine." She has learning disabilities, (fits right in with our family), often reminding us we need to turn off our left blinker when it's really the right one that is on. And she too has left us without any heat or defroster. But we love her like Jo loved her Saab. Perhaps we can get them together and they can retire together very soon.

Anonymous said...

This has reminder me of our "Slaab" pronounced "slob")which was already a hand me down when I got it as a "station"car.We also drove it far beyond it's life expectancy and had to leave when we sold it before they realized the car didn't stay in reverse to actually back it out of the parking space!