Dear 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan,
You know those letters that begin, “It’s not you, it’s me?”
This is not one of those letters. It’s definitely you. You are the problem, and you’ve been the problem for quite a while. However, I’m not entirely innocent: I’ve enabled you.
Do you remember how, in March, I paid to have your various parts replaced, even though I felt that perhaps this was a sign that things weren’t working out between us? At the time, I thought the money would allow us to continue on for a few more years. How naïve I was. My eyes are open now.
At the start, things were good. I wanted a car that could haul stuff when needed and one I would not mind kids covering in Cheerios. A front-wheel-drive Dodge Grand Caravan with 197 horsepower and automatic transmission fit the bill. But that was then.
Funny how the truth about a relationship can be brought to the surface when you’re on vacation.
Perhaps the same play staged against new scenery reveals insights into an old drama. I think that’s what happened during our drive from Toronto to Avon, on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. It’s not that what you did was even so heinous. In fact, in your lexicon of not working when you need to be working, this wasn’t even the worst offence. But it was the latest – and in the human/automobile union, timing is everything.
The air conditioning? Really? In Virginia in July? You decide to have your air conditioning conk out shortly after we cross the Mason-Dixon line?
What? You don’t remember?
Let me refresh your memory. Cold air is coming out your vents, and then ... it stops. We spend the next five hours driving through 100-degree heat while listening to a Robin Williams audiobook. Do you know how it feels to have every nook and cranny of your body coated in sweat? Me and my family do. We know it all too well.
Here’s the thing. We’ve been together for eight years, and you know my triggers. You know that when my father bought our car back in the late 1970s, he refused to have a radio or air conditioning installed because he considered them “luxuries.” I’ve done my time sweating in a four-wheeled microwave.
Maybe things could have been salvaged if, once we arrived on the Outer Banks, we didn’t have to drive through a remake of Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. The Outer Banks is an enormous sandbar, and it is vulnerable to rain and flooding. Some climate change experts believe it will disappear in the next 50 years. We got to experience this first-hand. When we arrived, the Outer Banks had been rocked with storms and taken on between nine and 16 inches of water. North Carolina Highway 12 (the only main road) was almost washed out in places. Traffic was backed up and moving at a crawl.
So we were sealed inside you – the “Anti-Porsche” – and at some points virtually floating along Highway 12.
Your air conditioning could have conked out in Toronto, but then, I would have done what I’ve decided to do now – end it between us. You wait until we’re off somewhere and then act up, knowing I can’t call you on it. Well, I’ve had enough.
I guess you expect me to drive to Hatteras and get your air conditioning fixed? Spend a day or two of vacation sitting in a mechanic’s waiting room? Think again. I’m going to buy five gallons of water, a dozen hand towels and roll the windows down. I’m not going to spend another cent on you.
Let’s keep it together for the trip home. We had a good run, but after that debacle, it’s time to move on.
It’s over. I’m going to start seeing other cars.