What’s the oldest thing you own? (Toys, clothing, twinkies, Grecian urns: anything’s fair game.) Recount its history — from the object’s point of view.
I’m a superstitious person, and I’m here at WP to get over myself in a few ways, too. Mainly, to improve my writing while building a following for my publication endeavors, but also to meet new people and stretch the narrow boundaries of my go-nowhere life.
With that said, I’ll take the chance of having Murphy’s Law bite me in the ass by introducing you all to Ji hee.
“안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo)! My name is Ji hee, and eleven years ago last month, my owner showed up at a small, foreign car lot not far from where she once lived, and with the sole purpose of purchasing her first, her very first brand new car.
“To say she was nervous would be putting it mildly, but no one was happier to see her than I was that overcast day all those years ago, when I was brand new and she was, well, in the early stages of mental breakdown. Recently divorced and seven months away from losing the house, she worked more than two years at the AED office to feel confident in this purchase.
“She was thinking cheap and economical, nothing too fancy or expensive. I’m pretty sure even at that point in her downward spiral that she could foresee the troubles that lay ahead for her and her pathetic future. So, the short, rotund salesman was able to sniff this vulnerability out right away and made a bee-line toward her shortly after she entered the showroom.
“She asked for something in red or blue, even when her eyes kept zeroing in on the new, pale green models in the parking lot. Maybe she was thinking new color equates to expense or something. Anyway, this guy walked her out back and showed her me. Brand new, 2003 Hyundai Elantra, with the new car smell inside. Shiny rims, and a metallic purple that did zero justice to the midnight gray I was labeled as being on the sticker.
“My potential owner hesitated, I could see it on her face. This isn’t the car I had in mind, she was thinking. It’s not red or blue, either. In fact, it isn’t even midnight gray. It’s … purple. A dark, unspecified, muddy shade of purple. I was embarrassed until she opened the door and I made my dink-doo, dink-doo noise to indicate door open/keys in ignition. It made her smile. It reminded her of a childhood toy she once had. A little, colorful xylophone.
“He suggested they go for a test drive, and they did. She got behind my wheel, and he sat shotgun. They drove around the city, and while he gabbed, she worried about having just walked into a common trap among women who unwittingly enter a showroom with the intention of ‘browsing’ and not actually buying until they know for sure what they want.
“Oh, dear, I thought. What if she doesn’t like me? What if she walks away and leaves me here? I’d really like to go home with her. She isn’t anything special or wow, but there’s something about her that draws out my pity. The type of person who will do all she can to make me last. I won’t be something that is traded in a few years from now. I can tell she loves to travel, too, by the way she behaved behind the wheel. A woman of adventure. I’d like to have some fun myself!
“So, instead of going with her gut instinct, which I later learned is one of her many bad habits, she told this guy she wanted to buy me. I was over the moon, but I could tell she wasn’t. While I thought up the many ways in which I could repay her for this freedom, she sat inside that showroom for close to six hours. That’s right. Six hours.
“The lady who worked finance was mean. A big woman with a loud voice who let everyone in the showroom know that my soon-to-be owner had some credit issues due to the divorce. She looked at my soon-to-be owner with contempt and even dared to ask, out loud, what she was thinking to want to buy a new car with piss-poor stats like hers.
“She should have walked out at that point, but I think the biggest thing on her mind was the fact that her old car was on its last leg. The trans was slipping, the radiator was shot, and the brakes had nearly failed twice coming and going from work. She needed something, and it had to be under ten grand. Me!
“So, without eating or drinking or even smoking in all that time, and after being humiliated publicly about something beyond her control, she took the keys from a nicer, more friendly man who worked in the service department. He took the time to show her how I operated, where the lights, wipers, and air con were, and how to read the service manual. She drove me off that lot about seven hours after she arrived, and for the next three years, she would be responsible for the $125 a month until I was free and clear.
“Today, I’m still parked in the driveway of her mother’s house. The place she and I rolled up at less than a year later, when she lost it all and found herself to be clawing her way out of the darkness with nothing and no one to lean on or help.
“Aside from a few minor repairs, I’m still with her, still running, still holding on. I knew it when I first met her, and I’m not the least sorry I wanted her to buy me. We went on a lot of exciting adventures together. I saw Niagara Falls, Chicago, the Upper Peninsula, Lake Michigan, Tampa, and about fifty interesting cities in Michigan. I carried her back and forth to college, too. I felt special having those hang-tags displayed under the rear view.
“She even video-taped my mileage as it hit the 100,000 mile marker. We were about three quarters of the way to Toronto when that happened. Fun times!
“I’m a good car and she’s a great owner. Even poor, she somehow manages to change my oil and clean me up when I need it. It was fun while it lasted, and I’d like to say we’ve got another ten years to go before my time is up, but you never know with mechanical things like me.”