Friday, November 20, 2009

How many miles are left on that car?

     I promised someone very close to me and that I dearly love that I would never tell the following story. So I will not tell it.  My lips are sealed, I will never mention this conversation to a single living soul as long as I live. I will simply post it instead.  (Please do not let anyone know that I have done this.)  All names have been omitted to protect the naive, the innocent, and all other parties that do not wish to be identified or so named.

      We were driving home from Columbia this afternoon after a full day of Christmas shopping, tired but very excited that satellite radio already had the "Holly" channel up and going even though it was only November and Thanksgiving was still a week away. Christmas music was blaring out the windows as we drove home in eighty degree South Carolina autumnal weather. We were singing Christmas carols, my three year old niece was watching "Frosty the Snowman" on the DVD player, we were discussing which relative would receive which treasure we had just purchased, and a general holiday spirit permeated the warm fall air.
      As I drove down I-77, my sister happened to ask, for no obvious reason other than curiosity, exactly how many miles I had on my car.  I clicked the odometer button and told her it was at 98,000 and that I was sure I would roll past the 100,000 mile mark by the end of the year.  I put a lot of mileage on that old tank, running back and forth between South Carolina and Virginia in addition to making the daily trek to classes in Lancaster.
     After I revealed the mileage, (an unnamed female person in the car) asked the following question:
     "How many miles do you get before you run out?"
     "What do you mean?" I questioned her.
     "Well, you're always talking about how many miles you've got on the car, and that it's almost time to trade it for a new one. So, how do you know when your miles are about to run out?"
        " You mean like minutes on the cell phone?" I asked.
        "Yes," she answered. "It doesn't seem fair to trade a car when the miles are about to run out. How does the person that buys the old car know how many miles are left on it when they buy it? And how do you know when you buy a new car how many miles you'll get with it?"
          "Honey, you don't buy miles with the car," I started, "it's not like a cell phone plan where you only get so many and then you run out. "
       I put on my best used-car-salesman hat  and began to explain the steps involved in purchasing, owning, maintaining, and eventually trading an automobile.
       "First, you purchase a car and make sure you properly maintain it. Get the oil changed every 3,000 miles, service it regularly, rotate the tires, take good care of it,  maintain it properly, and you'll get a lot of mileage out of that car."
        At this point my sister piped in, "(Unnamed female person in the car), you know when you see all those broken-down cars on the side of the interstate? Those are the cars whose miles have run out. They just stop, and you have to leave them on the side of the road until you can go and get some new miles."
      She thought this was terribly funny, but it sure wasn't helping my lesson in auto-mechanics.
      I  continued by trying to explain that when I said it was time to trade because the car had so many miles on it, I simply meant that heavy use of the vehicle excelerated the general wear-and-tear on the engine, transmission, brakes, belts, and other systems of the car. After so many miles, a car started to age and it was best to start thinking about getting a new one before you had to invest too much in maintaining an aging vehicle.
    "You have to go to the dealership and renew your mileage, usually for a two year period," my sister continued, not about to let this opportunity pass. " Once they activate it, you can go back and start your car up, then drive it home,"       
      Finally, finally,  (the unnamed female person in the car) realized she was being taking for a ride by my sister,  and no matter how much mileage that story had, she wasn't buying it any longer.
      "Please, please, please don't tell anybody that I actually thought the car ran out of miles," (the unnamed female person in the car) begged.
      "Of course not, honey, " I reassured her, as I winked at my sister in the rear-view mirror. "I'll never tell a soul!"
      Semantics, shemantics.....some things are just better left unsaid.

1 comment: