Monday, October 18, 2010

Driven Away

Tuesday evening I bid farewell to a good friend of mine.  We've known each other since I was 17 and have been though a lot together, good times and bad.

I am talking, of course, about my first car.  My little red Ford Focus that's been sitting in the garage for the last 2 years while I've been driving what was my brother's (and is now my) Ford Escape.  But even though I haven't driven it in a long time, it was sad to see my Focus go.  My parents gave me that car almost exactly 10 years ago for my 17th birthday.  That car has taken me to a lot of things in my life; high school, college, moving from Michigan to Illinois, getting married, buying a house and everything in between.

Yes, I posed for pictures with my car before we sold it

The whole story starts way back in the year 2000 (which reminds me of that Conan O'Brien sketch....anyone?).  I had gotten my driver's license at the end of the summer.  So like any teenager, I hinted, hoped and outright asked my parents for a car, but to no avail.  My dad's reasoning was airtight - there was no arguing about it.  He said:

  • A new car is too expensive
  • A used car wouldn't be reliable or safe enough
  • A new car that was very inexpensive would invariably be a tiny deathtrap that would be smashed by a larger SUV

My dad had made it clear there was no way they were getting me a car.

We get to November 4th; it's a Saturday and the day before my birthday.  My room was a bit of a disaster area and in order to get my birthday gift I had to clean my room.  My parents gave me a box, neatly wrapped up, with my gift inside to sit in my room to taunt me while I toiled.

And for the 3 full hours it took me to clean my room, my gift box did just that.  Taunt me.  Literally.  Every few minutes the box would buzz and play some weird song that reminded me of clowns.  Totally bizarre.

Finally, I finish cleaning my room and open my present - a cell phone!  This is just when they were starting to get popular, hardly anyone at school had one, so this was a big deal!  I was told to check the voicemail on the phone.  I called it, but the outgoing message was some guy and I couldn't listen to any messages.  Turns out the provider did a crappy job transferring the phone number or something, so we'd have to get that taken care of later.  In any event, my parents told me I should probably just take that huge garbage bag I had just filled up out to the garage.

I walk across the house and open the door to the garage.  Sitting in the garage is my dad's car and where my mom's mini van was usually parked sat a red Focus.  I was totally, utterly flabbergasted and in disbelief that my parents had actually gotten me a car.  I mean, my dad had really convinced me it would never happen.  I even remember my mom asking me several weeks earlier what color car I would want, were I to get one, and I told her I hadn't thought about it since I knew it wasn't going to happen.

As I walked over to take a look, all I could say was "Wow."  My dad explained that he had traded in my mom's mini van and gotten us a new Focus to share.



I didn't know what to think.  I mean,  a new car is cool, but if I have to share it with my mom anyway, we may as well share a car I can pack 6 of my friends into instead of 4.  Instant disappointment.  Which I tried very hard to hide because hey, my parents had just bought this new car and I didn't want to seem ungrateful.

So I continue to check out the car when my dad says "Ha!  Just kidding!"  My mom's car is at his friend's house a few blocks away.  This car is just for me!  I was so excited (and relieved)!  I got to drive my brand new car for the very first time to go pick up my mom's car.


 The day I got my car, preparing for its maiden voyage

My dad knew that I would want to go out with my friends to celebrate my birhday and wanted me to have a day to practice driving a new car before venturing off in it with friends.  The cell phone was basically a safety feature for the new car, should I ever get stranded and need help.

As for my dad's airtight arguments against getting me a car, well, my mom told me that when it came down to it, it was his idea to get me one.

Two years later when my parents got my brother a car, they surprised him on Christmas.  My dad re-wrote 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to basically tell him to go outside and see his new car. Unfortunately, on Christmas Eve I was tasked with printing out a copy of the poem for my dad so he could re-write it and I foolishly left it sitting on the printer.  Eric saw it (the unedited version) and figured out what was going on, but didn't say a word!

You may be wondering what sorts of shenanagins my brother could have gotten into that resulted in ownership of his car being transferred to me.  He actually moved to New York City for law school a few years ago and since he'll be living there for the foreseeable future, has no use for a car.

So thanks, mom and dad, for an amazing gift.  And for being the best parents ever (and not just because you bought me a car!).

As an aside, we sold the car to CarMax and were really happy with the process.  They made it fast and easy and gave us a great price for it!  We definitely recommend them for your used-car-selling needs.


  1. awww! That sad pic of you is priceless! I can see why it was so sad to get rid of your've had a lot of memories together!

  2. hehe I love this- the pics, the story... your parents done did good! :)