Friday, May 8, 2009

Farewell Corinna

Now, I’m no grease monkey or car-aholic, but I have a definite appreciation for automobiles. One of my favorite jobs of all time was working in a garage and learning all about the guts of those machines. Okay, okay—I didn’t wear one of those coveralls with my name embroidered under the company logo and have grease under my nails all day long, but I did eat lunch with the guys and they would take me under the car every now and then to show my a few cool things. I’d like to think I was their little sister they never had. Now, every time I walk into a car repair shop and hear those air tools or smell that grease, I get a little nostalgic.

My high school car was a red 1988 Ford Tempo. It was a hand-me-down from my sisters who graduated from college. For most of middle class America, when your 16 the junkier the car, the cooler you were. So I loved my little red car that could go no faster than 55 without shaking. (And can you believe I got my first speeding ticket in it?) It had the automatic seatbelts which would *stick,* I mean slide every time the door opened. (Well, after dad introduced the miraculous, liquid remedy of WD-40 to the college sisters, the seatbelt would glide instead of skip along. It’s amazing what a little grease will do!) I’m pretty sure the speedometer only went to 65. I think it was supposed to be an illusion when traveling on the highway or interstate. Even though everyone was passing you, you felt like you were going somewhat fast because the needle was bouncing past the numbers to the right. The cruise control was broken in a way that every time you pressed it, the car honked at you. But all in all, it was a good car and because it was a junkie, I was somewhat cool in high school.

Most cars have a gender, wouldn’t you agree? I mean, you just can’t hop up into a beasty truck and call it Prissy or Melba. And in the same light, you can’t drive a car with a bra and a rack and call it Ben. (Now that’s just not right!) There are a few exceptions where the car’s a hermaphrodite and this ford was quite the exception. It had no guts, so it wasn’t male and outside the occasional floral air freshener, it had no feminine attributes. Because it was a tempo, I decided to avoid common, transgender names like Charlie or Taylor or Kris or Kerry and go with a more musical name: Poco a poco Ritardando. (And if you need to translate that ‘tempo’ it means, ‘little by little getting slower.’ Trust me, the car lived up to its name.)

Then came the tragic spring of 2002. I was deemed the car during my first year at Snow College. I decided to visit my family for a weekend and on my way back to school, Poco a poco Ritardando, (also known as The Retard,) had a terrible fever on I-15 outside of Springville. It passed out from over exhaustion, just as I pulled up into a Cracker Barrel. (I guess going 55 in a 75 was just too much.) That was the last I saw of it. I still don’t know what exactly happened—my dad just said the cost of the car itself was a fraction of the amount of total repairs.

So I spent my sophomore year carless. It was a very devastating and even embarrassing era having to depend on others for my external mode of transportation. I didn’t even have a bike! As a matter of fact, when I had to be rushed to the ER that year, I humbly asked a friend to take me because I had no car.

I graduated from Snow in the spring of 2003 and headed up to Provo to begin my first summer semester at BYU. I lived close enough to campus to walk, but still needed a car to justify not taking public transportation to work or to the grocery store. My parents sat me down and said they’d be willing to help. They would buy a car and let me use it under a few conditions:

1) The car was less than 75,000 miles
2) The car was less than $5,000
3) The car was within a 10 mile radius from where they lived
4) The car couldn’t be a Ford (Totally agree with them on this!!)
5) The car was theirs and they could take it whenever they wanted

I thought it sounded fair enough, so I began my search. Mom and Dad didn’t care about the year of the car, but being the stuffy materialistic college student I was, I needed the car to be at least 7 years old. I didn’t want to be driving anything my mother could have taken me home in the hospital in.

Have you ever searched for a vehicle that’s under 5 grand and less than 100k miles and at least 7 years old? Everything you find tends to be the leftover stunt cars from movies or demolition derbies or from off the set of ‘My Name is Earl’ or held together with duct tape. I was coming to the conclusion that I would just have to humble myself and drive a 1970 hot pink VW bug with blue ocean waves on the side and a green hood. (And that exact vehicle is what my sisters drove before that got The Retard. It’s hard to believe they rejoiced when they got the Red Tempo. To them it seemed to be a beacon of mild social acceptance.)

This photo was taken years after we had sold his non-fictional car. Yes, it's still alive and kickin'!

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the advertisement in the monthly Auto Trader magazine. This moment would change my life forever. It seemed that the car angels sang that perfect fermata chord of ‘Awww’ and light came from out of the page where I gazed at her. Doves with a olive branches in their beaks somehow entered the room and fluttered about in peace and tranquility. I even thought I saw a rainbow and a little Irish man doing a jig out of joy. My search for my car was over. I found her!

She was a 1996, Toyota Corolla and she sat in a used car lot 5 miles from my parent’s residence. Her price tag was illuminating the $5,999. I brought the information to my parents and begged for them to consider. They ended up trading in their old Winnebago for a $1000, which brought the price down to a steady $4,999. Papers were singed and vehicles were exchanged. I decided to name her Corinna the Corolla and knew we would share many adventures together.

Shortly after my one and only semester at BYU, I moved to Arizona where I worked at that garage. I left for the mission a few months after that and was assured by my family they were taking good care of her. My younger sister got her license and kept that little car kickin.’ (At this time I’m not going to mention the multiple crashes my little sister inflicted upon her or post pictures of any them.)

Oops, how’s that get there?

A few months after graduating from BYUI, I bought her from my parents. Therefore, she was my first car I honestly owned.

But even the best relationships sometimes have to end. She was getting old and too much traveling was wearing her down. I needed to move on and find a love. Last month I purchased CaBella the Camry. I love my new lil’ car, but it’s hard to part with my old friend.

Here's CaBella waiting for me at work.

From the Arizona desert to the freezing Idaho windy winters, Corinna has been with me. She faithfully waited for me when I was on the mission. We did our fair share of being green. I would find hubcaps off of the side of the road and try to make them fit on her. She never really held on to them long. She endured late nights alone in the parking lot when I was finishing up a school project or trips to the unknown ghost town. She didn’t mind the smelly Thai food I would get which stunk her up for days. She didn’t mind stuffing her full of all of my belongings when traveling from state to state. We endured many treacherous storms together, both of weather and of life. She was there when I just needed to get away from everyone and everything, or get to someone I loved. She let me just sit and cry when I needed it. We would do 360s on purpose and not on purpose. She knew my boyfriends better than some of my friends or family. She was my friend and I will miss her terribly.

The constant missing hubcap

My last good-bye


Bumblebee said...

First of all, I can't believe you have a picture of the bug! Holy smokes! Second of all, we all knew you could do better than Cornia, but none of us wanted to say antthing...not our place! So glad you are in a better relationship now !!!

Millington Family said...

LOVED this post!! Awa...the "Babe-mobile"! I'll have to tell Cricket, she'd love to know it's still alive too. You had me in tears (of laughter) about the finding Corina. I never knew it was such a spiritual experience.