I refer in this case to the care of my car. I drive a Honda Element, which I bought (and am still paying for) instead of leasing because I knew that it was a car that I would want to drive for a long time. In fact, my goal is to put a few hundred thousand miles on it. It’s a great car that I’m still very happy with. Anyway, Honda plug aside, I have been neglecting my car for the past several months. More than several. Fine, for almost 9,000 miles.
I vowed when I bought this car that I would not get hung up on the silly, vain attention I once paid to the two-seater I used to own BB (“before baby”). I refused to become a slave to a spotless exterior or fly into a panic if door dings and bumper scuffs began to appear. I live in a city. Things happen when people parallel park. I adopted a very eastern attitude about the whole thing and decided to simply let go of my desperate and hopeless attempts at controlling my car’s perfection. I would park in tight spots and let the valets do their work without lecturing them about keeping it safe. I would ignore the layer of fine sediment that begins to appear minutes after a carwash in LA. In fact, I would not waste any more money on the futile act of having my car washed and waxed. After all, I spend almost all of my time inside the car so who cares what the outside looks like?
The problem is, I took my attitude a little too far. Over the past 8 or 10 months, that fine layer of smog dust got to the point where I could barely see out my windows. My “car washes” boiled down to the squeegees at gas stations. The poor thing hadn’t had an oil change in 9,000 miles and the inside of it looked like a twister touched down for a second and then took off because it was too messy to even mess up. Someone or something grazed my rear right tail light and popped it out of its housing (leaving a nice hole in the red plastic shell) and finally, the straw that broke this procrastinators back, the “Maint Req’d” light came on.
My poor car was begging me to care at least a little about it, so I finally pulled myself out of my procrastinatory hole of neglect and brought the Element to the Honda dealer to have its much needed scheduled maintenance done. The upside to the 3 hour wait was that it gave me plenty of time to read the latest Potter book. The downside was that as I plied myself with vending machine coffee and fought for all three hours to find a comfortable position in the standard car dealership service waiting room chairs, Cops and Montel provided distracting background noise throughout, making reading difficult.
Finally, after 6 or 8 chapters of the book, Jaime came over to me like a doctor to an expectant father and told me, “Your car is ready.” I held my breath as I walked over to the nursery…wait, I mean car pick-up area. Part of the joy of a standard 21,000 mile maintenance at this particular Honda dealer is that in addition to checking the fluids and the joints and changing the oil and such, they WASH YOUR CAR. I didn’t let on that I almost would have paid the 89 bucks just for that. Instead, I peered out at my car, which now looked almost brand new again (curse you, hit and run tail light breaker) and couldn’t wait to drive it again.
Is it just me, or does a freshly cleaned car just seem more fun to drive? Now for cleaning the inside. Unfortunately, that’s not part of the scheduled maintenance. I did manage to pop the tail light housing back in (hole and all).
I promise to never neglect you so badly again. Please continue to operate and I will continue to maintain you. Let us celebrate our arrangement by the adding of chocolate to milk.