Monday, June 20, 2011

My Retirement - Car Talk

Very buggy, muggy outside, but doing OK

Vroom, Vroom, Vroom.
I got my driver's license somewhat later in life; I was all of 27. I spent my first 16 years in New York where a car is not needed.  When we moved to Pennsylvania, we lived in a house that was within walking distance of most places, so learning how to drive was not on my radar. When my son was three we wanted to enroll him in nursery school for a few mornings a week,  so I finally had to bite the bullet and get behind the wheel.  Not-so-patient hubby became my teacher. He  instructed me in his beloved stick-shift gold Pontiac with my children screaming in the backseat and the car bouncing/hopping around as I attempted to change gears. All of his veins popped outside his body and his eyes looked like those of the Wolfman.  We can laugh about it now, but it was a difficult period in our lives.  I finally paid for some driving lessons from a professional and took my test with my mom's automatic car. I passed on my first try.  Hubby's comment to me after I called to tell him the good news was "just because you have a license, doesn't mean you can drive".  I have been trying to prove him wrong in the past forty years, but he is not convinced yet.

The first car I bought was from a neighbor and it cost me $50.  It was only four or five years old and for some reason all the paint had faded and was coming off.  It was sprayed with some kind of flat coating and it was not pretty.  However, the engine was good, it had a radio and air-conditioning and it was extremely cheap.  At that time, I was a part-time nursery school teacher at a local church. Before we bought this car,  hubby would catch a ride to work with someone else and let me have our only car, although somewhat begrudgingly. With my new acquisition,  I no longer had to beg and was more self-sufficient. It also had an automatic transmission and I no longer had to live in fear of hillitise (car rolling back at top of a hill).  One aspect about about the car though was that the lady who previously owned it had quite a reputation around town (if you know what I mean) and this vehicle was well known in some circles.  For the first year I had people beeping at me when they passed by, thinking I was the famous Bridgette.  I'd wave back, as I am a friendly person, but did not know why all of a sudden I was so popular. I did not find out till later.  I kept that car for about 4 years and never minded the way it looked; I was just so happy to have my independence.

View Subaru Impreza 2.5 WRX 5DR detailsNow that I am old(er), I am driving a car that still gets me beeps and waves.  I have a Subaru WRX, which is an all-wheel drive sports car.  It was one of my purchases that has become another  "what was I thinking" moment.  I bought it six years ago when I realized that we needed one car in the family that  would drive well in the snow. My previous vehicle had been a small red sports car and I loved the feeling of driving it.  I did not want to go from that to some ugly SUV.  All Subarus are AWD and I was very impressed with the look of the WRX model.  Hubby was thrilled, that should have been my clue.  This car has a turbo engine, is high performance, and goes vroom, vroom vroom when you power it up.  Unfortunately I am not in the vroom, vroom, vroom part of my life and seldom drive on roads that the speed limit is over 35/45 miles an hour. Those that drive this kind of car are men of the average age of 30 with no kids. I also found out that owners of this car feel they are in a club and when they see you coming their way, they will honk their horn and wave.  When they see me behind the wheel they almost get whiplash.  I am sure the question on their mind is "Why is she driving her grandson's car". 

Besides these whippersnapper waving at me, there are others on the road that also want to greet me with hand signals.  I have lost that adventurous feeling I used to have when I drove with one arm hanging out the window while singing and moving  along with my music and not necessarily watching the  speedometer.   Nowadays, my hands are tightly gripped to the wheel, my mind fully concentrated on not getting lost and doing the speed limit (or maybe less).  There are people who take objection to my "cautiousness" and want to let me know they disapprove.  Sometimes my feelings get hurt when they speed past me and yell out something I cannot decipher,(but their fingers give me a clue), however, other times, I might answer with my own remark, but by then, they are dust in my windshield. I am thinking of getting a big bumper sticker that says "bite me", just to let them know beforehand how I feel about their vileness.   Their time will come, as it did for me.

There will probably be a para-transit van in my future, but not yet.  I went vroom, vroom, vroom yesterday while driving , so this old girl still has something going on.


  1. This post cracked me up. I remember when you bought the red sports car and had a personalized license plate made that said "she paid" - which I am assuming was to keep dad from driving it.

    I love the bumper sticker idea and found some great ones at There are many to choose from - with hearts, bunnies, gingerbread men, cats, tye dye and my favorite which says "Bite Me I'm Irish" with a picture of a large green donut (which I do not understand but it looks funny).

  2. Hello Arleen:
    We can absolutely identify with certain cars marking different stages of our lives. The Minis [lots of them], Rovers and BMWs, but now we are so glad to have none of them. In Brighton, parking is impossible and sea salt and seagulls do not a pretty car make. In Budapest, the public transport system is the best we have known anywhere and so the need for a car is non-existent. And so, at this stage at least we are glad to be free of it all...petrol prices, insurance, car tax, MOT tests etc. etc. However, we are sure that you cut quite a dash in your Vroom Vroom!!

  3. I become someone else behind the wheel of a car. Someone young. Someone outrageous.

  4. Heather, my license plate still says "She Paid", and I did.

  5. Jane and Lance,

    Thanks for your comment and at times I also wish I lived in a place that public transit was available. Unfortunately, I live in a rural area and the only places within walking distance are farms.

    When I was deciding on what kind of car to get this last time, it was between a Mini or the Subaru. My son told me that I would kill myself in a Mini, so because I did not want him to be an orphan, I got the Subaru.

    Thank you for writing in your comment "Vroom, Vroom, Vroom." I had misspelled in in my post, and said voom, voom, voom. What do I know since I basically go putt, putt, putt at 35 mph around town. I was so glad that you did that so I could correct my post quickly.

  6. Delores, so you are wild and crazy MBJ behind a wheel. Who would have guessed.

  7. Oh, I just loved this post. How well I remember when my husband was trying to teach me how to drive a stick shift. I was driving around the parking lot all herky jerky, my hubby was yelling at me, and our son was in the back seat laughing like a loon. Not at ALL fun! Like you, I then opted to get a professional instructor ... and an automatic transmission. And love my little vroom vroom red car now.

  8. Susan, I just knew you had or have a red car. I read a little book about 20 years ago that listed the 100 things you should do in your life. One of them was drive a convertible, better yet, a red convertible. I had a white one, but my next car was a 3 passenger (no kids allowed) red sporty Eagle Talon. Those were fun years. I felt like one cool mama.

  9. A lovely, funny post. I drove a red, soft-top car for many years and was recognised, waved and pipped at wherever I went. Not much vroom, vroom, however - the car was a Citroen Dyanne!

  10. I love reading your are so 'out there' in you comments. You have me laughing, and Lord knows, we all need some deep belly laughing. Great post.

  11. I enjoyed reading your post too! I think everything's come full circle over here - the fuel is so expensive, you have to think twice before you go anywhere!