Lot boy gets to drive the dregs of the family fleet

Lot boy gets to drive the dregs of the family fleet

Last winter, as my youngest daughter was finishing up her college degree, I let her borrow my beloved, 17-year-old Honda Element as a safer alternative to the equally ancient Ford Focus she’d been driving for the past several years.

The Focus itself had been a “trickle-down” from my wife when Kristin upgraded to a slightly newer used car. That “new” car of Kristin’s — the youngest in the family fleet — is now old enough to drive itself and just clicked past 100,000 miles a few days ago. All of this information should paint a vivid picture of my personal transportation strategy: Pay cash, then drive them until they drop. My mechanic loves this plan, by the way. It’s allowed him to save for his own daughter’s college education at an astonishing pace.

Consistent with the way “borrowing” arrangements typically go in my household, I haven’t seen my Honda much in the past year. With the exception of the occasional weekend and a holiday or two, my darlings (both daughter and vehicle) have been caught up in one adventure after another since graduation. There was one exception back in February when some jerk with a beanpole profile and a Sawzall slid underneath the car as it was parked in front of Sylvia’s college apartment and made off with the catalytic converter. That little escapade cost me dearly, not only in dollars, but also the remainder of my already marginal hearing as I drove the entirely unmuffled mess home from Kent for the repair.

During a recent visit home, after a speech filled with benevolent and sage fatherly wisdom, I told Sylvia she could continue to drive my car while paying down her student debt and saving for her own vehicle.

“You’ll never have fewer bills to pay than you’ve got right now,” I said. “So take this opportunity to double-up on your loan payments and work on saving. You can drive my car for as long as you like, but I’ll warn you it isn’t going to run forever. The next one will be on you.”

Consistent with my recent spate of luck, when Kristin and I walked her out to the car to see her off, the turn of a key yielded no response whatsoever. None. A failed attempt at a battery jump did little more than heighten the drama. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the old Honda had been listening in on our little father-daughter talk and was now lashing out at me for sending it up the river with the kid.

My mechanic, as always, was happy to take care of the problem. Half a week and $500 later, Honda and daughter were reunited to travel happily on their way while I am once again piloting the double-trickled-down remains of an aged Ford Focus. For those of you who may have wondered why I spend so much time riding a bicycle, the mystery may now be solved.

Kristin and John Lorson would love to hear from you. Write Drawing Laughter, P.O. Box 170, Fredericksburg, OH 44627, or email John at jlorson@alonovus.com.