This post won’t make a lot of sense unless you read the previous two first.
Needless to say, after my Cherry Pop chevy met the motorcycle it was totalled. There is only so much a little red tin can take. Another trip to ICBC. The new tires bumped the cheque up a bit… $1500.
Once again, a friend stepped in with an offer. “I know a guy who fixes up cars and sells them…” Sure enough, he was selling one for $1500. I was starting to get smart though and paid a visit to another mechanic for a second opinion. I wasn’t quite smart enough to do this before I had paid for the car. When the report came back with issues about the timing belt, the water pump etc… I was graciously given my money back.
Car dealerships. Scary. Pushy salesmen, lots of paperwork, flashy signs. But also, mechanic reports and warranties.
Debt was a nemesis to me but perhaps a little debt at first would save a lot of debt later.
A friend co-signed a loan for me. I just have to pause and mention the pattern of friends walking by my side. It is a miracle, looking back, that I always had a car when I needed one, I was always able to go to work. That’s kind of amazing. My friends are kind of amazing. God is kind of amazing.
I drove a beautiful volkswagon, with a metal gear shift and fancy seats. I felt like royalty. The interior was too dark though. I drove a newer malibu sedan that wasn’t bad.
While still deciding, the phone rang.
“Hi, you were looking at our cars. I know a guy who is selling an Acura Integra at a towing shop. Only 77,000 km on it. $2300.”
Integra, sounds like integrity. Sounds good. Reviews looked good. I went right away. It was a beautiful teal colour. Smooth ride. The guy even gave me a government certified mechanic report. That would save me a trip… or so I thought.
Glistening teal car, freshly washed sparkled on my street. I took it for a late night drive.
Then I heard the noise.. a little rumble that grew louder and faster as I accelerated. oh no… the familiar sinking feeling.
The wheel bearing. Back to the tow shop. “No problem, I have another Acura. I will just switch the parts.”
The new parts were worse.
“Yeah, I heard about that guy at the tow shop” my mechanic said. “He rips people off with junky cars that he paints and cleans till they shine. This exhaust pipe is so old. He might have adjusted the odometer too. Probably at least 100,000 km on it.”
heating fan, wheel bearings, exhaust pipe, etc.. etc.. I had switched around to different mechanics finally finding one that was trustworthy.
You know those bargains that people make with God? Well, I did my own. “God,” I prayed. “I am tired of paying mechanic bills. I am tired of being ripped off. If you restore this car and keep it going for me I will give this car for your kingdom use. I will give rides to whoever you want. This is not my car, this is your car so please take care of it.”
From 2009-2012 the acura took me to hundreds of home support clients, picked up and dropped off friends, took many ferry trips to Vancouver and Quadra. She eventually earned the name Emerald Ethel for faithfully running.
In 2012 I went to China. Both my parents and my sister needed a car. I hate decisions like this. I am a peacemaker, I like everyone to be happy. I don’t anyone to ever think that I like someone more than them. After tearful conversations with both parties and a lot of prayer and thinking, Emerald Ethel went to Sarah in Vancouver. My parents ended up buying one of the most beautiful cars they ever owned.
Sarah drove me to the airport in her new prize. “What is that chirping noise?” I wondered. “It just started.” “It sounds like a bird.” Sarah said, “I will check it out.”
Hours later in a strange hotel in Japan. Jet legged on a layover. The email message comes.
“It’s the brakes. The bird chirp is a safety warning saying the brakes are about to fail. I can get a good mechanic to fix it for $1100. Will you pay half? Oh, and you forgot to cancel your insurance when we signed the transfer papers. You need to write a letter to ICBC.”
$1100 for brakes. That was familiar. I didn’t sleep much that night.
Walking past crowds of colourful people with a letter to ICBC in hand. Down strange streets in Luoyang, past strange shops. “Post office?” I ask waving my letter. “That way.” they point.
“The other way.” Someone else points. “Keep going.”
E transfers had just come into existence. First China pay cheque. The last mechanic bill I paid.
Sarah ended up keeping the car for the next couple of years. Emerald Ethel brought her to the Hollywood theatre for late night commitments, Emerald Ethel took baby Callie home for the first time. Emerald Ethel took baby Callie to Children’s hospital when she had a high fever.
For a brief interlude, I had her back while staying in Vancouver. Emerald Ethel took me for 3-4 hour drives around the city when I was tired of staying in my room and too scared and depressed to show my face to anyone.
In 2015 I got a teaching job for the Campbell River school district and needed wheels once again. I was living with my parents on Quadra and they had been generous with their car but there can be too many cooks in a kitchen and too many drivers in a car. A few days before I brought Emerald Ethel home my parent’s car died for good. Now it was my turn to be generous and Dad started riding his bicycle a lot more.
When Forest called me back to Vancouver another decision was to be made. I wasn’t too keen on paying $200/month insurance in the city (accidents do cost you big time) and I wasn’t keen on my parents having to buy a new car. A spontaneous idea, a phone call to Forest, “sure, we can share my car.” He said. “I usually take the skytrain to work anyway.”
The peacemaker in me was happy. Sarah and Mom got their turn. Everyone wins. Jonathan and Sarah were given another car. The cycle of blessing continues.
My suspicion is that Emeral Ethel really liked being a city car. Against all odds and my dad’s declarations “Nothing will convince me to move from Quadra.” Emerald Ethel brought Dad and Mom home to Vancouver last June.
She didn’t have a roof rack. Fores’t parents were giving them a queen sized mattress. Seemed silly to rent a truck for one mattress. “No problem” Dad said. We wait anxiously at the condo picturing a flapping floppy mattress on the little Acura. Dad pulls up with a custom built, perfectly sized wooden box secured and stable on the roof. Forest’s parents shake their heads and smile. They are starting to get to know my quirky creative family.
Out of a crash and rip off, Emerald Ethel became a blessing to me, my family and many others who rode in her.
I am partly glad that my cheap car adventures are over. Now I just drive my husband’s car when I need to or take transit. But wow, did I learn a lot, grow a lot, pray a lot and see a lot of miracles. In every instance of desperation, despair and disappointment someone was there to give me a hand.
May that be true in your situations as well. Thanks for journeying with me.