Sunday, March 14, 2010

Baby You Can Drive My Car

Mostly Personal

A small departure: Today’s blog will talk a little about the author, Dr. Forgot as I am called. That is a moniker I picked up from colleagues at a school where I worked. It is in reference to my being an absent-minded professor. I won’t go through the specifics or the defining incident, but suffice it to say that one Sunday morning en route to catch a plane to go to a conference on Gifted Children, I stopped by the school first to pick up some notes and in the process locked myself in. But that’s another story for another time.

Cars, cars, cars: I’ve always been a car guy. My first was a used 1949 Willys Station Wagon that my father bought for me so I could deliver The Daily News to local paperboys and stores. I was 14 at the time and drove the streets of Clairton, PA without incident for two years until I was legally old enough to get a driver’s license. When the old used Willys petered out after a year or so we invested in a brand new 1957 Willys panel truck. It looked almost exactly like the old one.

In college my first car was a 1949 Packard. My roommate Geno, also a Clairton boy, and I bought the car from a Utah farmer for $80. Except that we didn’t have $80 between us, we only had $20 each, so the farmer took our $40 and a verbal promise to send him the other $40 the following month – which we did. No contracts, no lawyers, just a handshake. During college I bought and sold several cars, making small profits by cleaning them up. After college I bought many – probably a total of 70 or 75 cars over the years. But my pride and joy came to me in 2000.

A new dealership: A Jaguar dealership opened near my house in 2000. I knew the family who owned it and had purchased cars from their other dealerships over the years. As I drove by the newly opened dealership I spied a gorgeous top of the line Jaguar Vanden Plas. Of course I knew I could not afford such a car so I stopped in to do a little window shopping. Turns out that the car was not new but had just been returned from a lease. A local casino executive leased a luxury car for his girlfriend regularly. It was pristine (the car, not the girlfriend). About 16,000 miles and looked brand new. The owner said he would sell it to me at a rock bottom price which was still a little rich for my blood, but this was, after all, my dream car. I went home to think about it and picked up the daily mail which included an advertisement from the new dealership with a $5,000 certificate that said, “Make your best deal and then take $5,000 off.” I took it as a sign. This was providence. I raced back down to the dealership, certificate in hand, and purchased the car. From that moment onward it has been my pride and joy. I’ve kept it in pristine condition and receive compliments every time I drive it.

Fast forward 10 years: In two weeks it will be 10 years to the day that I purchased the Jaguar and that means the car is nearing its 14th birthday. Yes, it has been expensive to maintain over the years, more so than most, but this was my combination hobby and fun car. Still, things were wearing out. The power steering worked most of the time, and several other things were getting ready for replacement to the tune of several thousands of dollars. So I probably should not have driven it to San Diego last week but I did.

In the middle of the desert, about 100 miles from nowhere the engine sputtered then caught again. It happened a few more times as we limped into San Diego. The local Jaguar dealership was unable to provide an accurate estimate but was certain that repairs would likely cost more than the value of the car. So I drove around the area looking at possibilities while Mrs. Dr. Forgot roamed the shopping malls. I eventually arrived at a dealership that was very aggressive in providing a deal on a new car. The car was plain vanilla on the outside (well, the color was actually pearlized white) but the interior was loaded with all the bells and whistles. The price was a very good one and when we finally got to discussing the Jaguar the manager offered me an excellent price. Turns out he is a tinkerer and would but the car himself and do whatever repairs needed. So I drove home in a new car. It was not planned that way. The new car does not elicit gasps from onlookers the way the Jaguar did and people do not start conversation with me about the new car. But it is a highly rated car with excellent gas mileage, 50% better than the Jaguar, and it runs on regular. My cat is a little miffed about it. He used to love to go into the garage and stretch out on the roof of the Jag. I think he thought they were related, both being cats. But I’m sure he’ll get used to the new car just as I will.

A little blogging music Maestro… An oldie from 1967 by The Who…“Jaguar”

Dr. Forgot

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