And yesterday a nice man at the dealership quoted me an estimate for fixing the car equal to what I originally paid for it.
So I'm mentally preparing myself for the search for a replacement car and the taking care of this car.
It's been a good car. It's a white 1988 Honda Accord DX hatchback, which I bought in summer 1997, soon before moving to Hermiston, Oregon for my newspaper job. It had about 96,000 miles then; it has about 170,000 miles on it now, including from the days when I'd drive 200 to 300 miles (and occasionally 400 miles) a month for my job. It was the car for my many roadtrips between Portland, Hermiston, Seattle, Eugene post-college, and the Oregon Coast. It was the car I drove through an Eastern Washington storm bearing so many tumbleweeds blowing across I-82 that they looked like an invading army.
In other words, I drove it into the ground. Almost literally. (My last two cars I lost to low-speed accidents, one in 1990 and a truly stupid one in 1997. No accidents since then, I'm glad to say. And I'm glad I didn't have a car-ending accident in this one.)
I gave it two nicknames, The Wedge and the Me-Mobile. The nicknames just sort of happened; I don't remember when they came to me, just that I thought they fit. (My lumpy '83 Honda Prelude from soon before college was The Spud.)
The poor car's been a little hobbled for awhile. The A/C gave out in '99, if I remember right; I lived without it, even in Hermiston's semi-desert, because that repair would have cost more than the car was worth. A door connection got snapped around the same time; I opened the door with a stiff, stiff Eastern Washington wind blowing through the Tri-Cities, and the door got away from me, bent almost as far forward as the one on Chris Farley's car in Tommy Boy. I had that repaired. Fast-forward to 2004 and I was pulling out of an underground parking space next to a pillar, and I steered wrong and knocked the left front end into that pillar. It's had a notch there ever since. I didn't feel the need to spend to fix it, and I could consider it a warning about driving carefully.
I'm not about the glamour-cars, as you've probably guessed. I've always had beaters. But they've been good, solid beaters. I've liked them.
Today I arranged to leave work early, so I could bus and Max out to the dealership where the techs had given the car a look-see. I got back my key (from a cashier who looked high school-age, like she could star in a community theater production of Juno), plus a for-formality's-sake breakdown of the work the car would need...if, y'know, I was going to drive it more than the handful of miles to home. I drove home carefully. (Yeah, I needed that adverb.)
I patted the car several times after getting it back. I thanked it, and hoped it would stick together long enough to get me here. "Don't worry, Chris," I deadpanned to myself, "it's no more dangerous to drive now than it was before."
So. Now to take care of my car situation. What's on my mind? That World War II cartoon of the soldier averting his eyes as he prepares to shoot his Jeep.
Yeah, I think I might miss this car.