Just before I moved to Iowa, I bought a brand new 2005 Scion tC hatchback in india-ink blue:
I got a pretty good rate and a big discount as a graduating college student — although I’m sure Scion/Toyota had 24-year-old BA/BS graduates in mind, rather than middle-aged Ph.D.s. It was the first — and likely last — brand new car I’d ever bought and I adored it, from its sunroof AND moon roof (over the backseat) to its speedy little engine and handsome low-profile tires.*
But the Scion and Iowa did not get along. Even before the Endless Winter of 2009/2010, my blue beloved would get stuck at the bottom of my driveway if the snow were more than 3″ deep,** and once stuck was impossible to dig out, due to that sporty low stance. One time I was running late and decided I could risk not digging out the scrim tossed up by the snow plow, got stuck, and had to pound on my young neighbor’s door at 7 a.m. He ~finally~ opened up, wearing nothing but knit-fabric boxers*** he’d been sleeping in, went and got dressed, tried unsuccessfully to dig the car out, and it’s only because 2 passing Mid-American Electric company dudes stopped to help that I made it to work at all. I did buy the neighbor guy a six pack of really good beer.
Driving down to Peabody, KS to spend Christmas with my sister has also been exciting the past 2 years. I really am living on the southern edge of the Great White North and in ‘2008, it took me 4 1/2 slipping, sliding, slow hours to make the 2-hour drive past Omaha.
This winter, of course, has been even worse. Once during our January Interim classes, I had to beg three students to come dig the Scion out of the base of my driveway (after getting stuck, I walked to work) and I then bought them lunch. Another time, I got stuck half-way into the street and had to call AAA. And when exiting my driveway, even when shoveled, I had to ~hope~ no cars were coming (’cause I couldn’t see over the snowbanks) and gun the engine to get out into the snowy street.
About 10 days ago, I was driving with a friend in her little hatchback and we ended up in a ditch and as I sat there waiting for a nice Iowan with a truck and a tow line to pull us out,**** I wondered for the first time if I could trade my little blue buddy in for more than I owed on it.
And I could. And that is how I met Scarlett:
Scarlett is a 2007 Ford Escape Sport with 4 wheel drive and a v6 engine. Scarlett laughs at snowy driveways and icy parking lots. Scarlett has no trouble seeing over big mounds of snow. Scarlett can enter a frozen street with slow grace and is not afraid she won’t be able to get going again if she loses momentum. Scarlett was bred for Iowa. Scarlett’s only fault is that she gets 5-7 fewer mpg than the Scion, but as my cheapness is much stronger than both my healthfulness and my environmentalism, I’m now much more likely to walk to work once or twice a week and bike in the summer.
And how did I settle on the name Scarlett? No, the red color of the car is beside the point — I picked this particular used car because it was the best deal available from the in-t0wn Ford dealership, which came highly recommended by many friends and colleagues and which does seem to be very service oriented. Rather, she got her name because when I found out I’d be trading the 1.5 years of car payments left on the Scion for a 5-year loan,***** like Miss O’Hara I sighed, “I’ll think about that tomorrow, for after all, tomorrow is another (snowy Iowa) day!”
*until I had to replace one, to the tune of $130. For just one tire. At Wal-mart!
**And it’s not that I’m too lazy to shovel. But I live alone, so any shoveling that’s going to get done gets done by me, and I have a really long driveway and I’d rather be doing something else, like eating breakfast, at 6 a.m. on a workday.
***And yes, HUBBA!
****he wouldn’t take any money, so we gave him two free tickets to a Dad’s Belgian Waffles and Sausage fundraiser dinner.
*****The car payment is $16 more a month than the Scion’s, but insurance is $10 less, so it’s pretty much a wash.