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Gone too soon

I had to part ways with old Jeff Jr. this week. I bought the ratty little Civic hatchback in April of 2001, after several months without a car. It was the unfortunately named STD trimline: 4 speed manual transmission, crank windows, no A/C, not even a cigarette lighter. It burned a quart of oil with every tank of gas. It was probably the perfect car.

In next seven and a half years, Jeff Jr. broke down 3 times, about once every two and a half years: a bad starter coil, a bad ignition switch,  and the broken timing belt that killed him. I put dents in him. So did my roommate, my girlfriend, and several thoughtless strangers. I stored garbage and scrap lumber in him. I left him parked for months at a time. All it ever took to get going again was a jump start. Once, I jumped him, loaded 600 square feet of laminate flooring in the back, and drove to Maryland and back. No problem for Jeff Jr. Even my grandpa, the former UAW local head and lifelong hater of Japanese cars, admitted it was a good car.

For about eight months, he couldn’t get past the state emission tests. Then they repealed the clean air laws and he was legal again. Divine intervention kept this car on the road. My other car, a soulless interloper, has been broken into twice in less than two years. Thieves never touched Jeff Jr. — he was invisible to them.

Anyhow, he’s dead now. Sold for scrap. If I had spent more time on upkeep, he probably would have run another 60,000-odd miles. Neglecting things that matter and then regretting it comes pretty easy to me, I guess. If I had a yard I probably would have kept him out front for the possums to live in, strictly for sentimentality’s sake. I’ll have to find another car to love, instead.

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