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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Time for the scrapyard

It's time. My poor old car has finally reached its end. A car can be a metaphor for life. At first you are real excited about it and what you can do with it. Later it starts to drag on you and be a burden and you begin to entertain ideas about trading it in. But after a while it becomes quite comfortable and it becomes harder by the day to replace.

The auto in question isn't that old, less than 20 years. It will never make it to classic, I fear. I picked it up used and put a lot of work into it to make it run. It took a little while but eventually it purred like a new born kitten. It was fast and shiny with its new paint job and refurbished engine. But over time the restoration began to fade and wear started to show. I really didn't notice at the time. Regardless, anything broken with it, I could fix, I had done it before.

But I took some bad advice. Instead of addressing the real issues I let myself be convinced that I should replace the engine completely. It seemed like good advice. What better way to reset the car than with a new engine. Although this is a fairly straight forward mechanical procedure, I had nothing but issues with it. First, the engine, although new, wasn't completely compatible with the car. The manufacture who made the engine had taken some short cuts in the process over the years to the point where the first engine was actually in better shape than the "new" engine. It took much longer than expected to get this done. For one thing, I had to keep using the car daily and couldn't afford to not use it. This made even the simplest issue very difficult to complete. Months turned into years and I still couldn't get the car back to where it was before.

By this point, I had truly begun to hate the car. It was taking up all of my spare time, and I was making no real headway. The advice I got was no better and the only real options were to sink some serious money into it, money I didn't have, or to scrap it. For some reason I wasn't ready to scrap it. I had owned this beauty for almost 10 years and to let it go seemed wrong. Regardless, I had to do something. My family could see that I wasn't happy with it and it had begun to affect even my daily life. Absurd!

Fortunately I found a collector who had several of the same make cars who was interested in taking my baby and getting it restored back to where it was before. Unfortunately for me, I had used the car as collateral on an investment some years before. I was at the mercy of the investment group and through months of back and forth discussions just could not come to an agreement. I become more disgruntled than ever through this time and finally reached a breaking point. I really wanted the collector to have the car. It would have a good home and he said that I could come take the car for a drive when I wanted. But the investment firm wouldn't let the car go for what the collector wanted to pay. I explained to the investment firm that if the deal didn't go through that I would scrap the car. They didn't care. I'm amazed at how often people are willing to throw something away instead of getting something in return. Perhaps they think they will get a return, but not from me. Not this time.

So last night, I opened the hood to take a look at the car one last time. It had brought me a lot of pleasure but also a lot of pain. Again, a metaphor for life. But though I love it, I also hate it and its time to find something more reliable. As I closed the hood I was almost driven to tears thinking about all of the time that old car had been with me. The car is dead, long live the car.

So, should I go new and speedy, or classic restoration? Until then. I'm on the bus!