The crumb-top apple pie I’m not eating

Crumb-top apple pie

Crumb-top apple pie

Um… where do I start? OK. 1988. Summer of 1988. Wow. That long ago?

During the summer between high school and college, I bought a 1980 Buick LeSabre from the friend of a friend’s father. It wasn’t a great decision. It had lots of problems, and then up and died at the end of my Junior year.

When I graduated college in 1992, my parents gave me some money to buy a car. I bought a used Chrysler Laser from a friend of my father. Big mistake. The engine died the following year. I had another engine put in. That one didn’t last long.

After the Laser died, my girlfriend’s stepfather had a Renault Alliance that was in the shop with a busted transmission. He didn’t want to pay for it, so I took the car for the price of the transmission job. God, I was such an idiot. Early that winter, I drove through some flood water that was much higher than I’d realized. The temperature happened to drop below freezing that night. For the rest of the winter, the engine wouldn’t start when it got very cold. The next year, the timing belt broke, and that was the end of that.

After the Renault, I was done buying cars from people I knew. In 1996 I financed an Isuzu Trooper from a used car dealer. It wasn’t a great decision. It sucked a lot of my money away, as usual, and by early 1999 became too unreliable to drive.

In 1999 I bought a new 1999 Ford Escort. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m still driving the thing.

In January of 2009 a friend was about to move to Canada, and she had a 2001 Hyundai Sonata with no brakes left. She didn’t want to spend the money for the brake job and jump through all the other hoops required to bring it with her. So she kept offering to let me have it.

I didn’t want a used Hyundai Sonata, but I looked up the Blue Book value and saw that it was around six or seven hundred dollars more than the cost of the brake job. So, thinking that it was a good deal, I violated one of my biggest rules: I bought a car from a friend.

I threw a few hundred dollars her way, which brought the money I spent up closer to the Blue Book value. Then things started going wrong… one after another. By late last year I’d spent over $4,000 on the vehicle. I can’t begin to describe how stupid that makes me feel. I violated a rule I’d spent years and a lot of money learning, and boy did I pay for it.

Well, thankfully the Sonata has kept running for the last year, which makes the investment somewhat less horribly unwise. But just the other day, the “CHECK ENGINE” light came on again. So now I’m back to the decision of whether to put another penny into that vehicle. I’m going to have my mechanic check it out in hopes of getting enough information to make that decision.

I say all this to explain how much anxiety I feel whenever I have to do anything at all involving a car. I’ve made a lot of dumb decisions, and any car problem brings me right back to those bad old days.

I got the Escort registered last Monday, my first post Goldman-Sachs non-work day. Since then I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to get it to pass inspection, and my anxiety has increased with the approach of my Maine trip. I got the brakes fixed, and have had to pester my mechanic to continue fixing another problem that was causing the car to fail inspection.

My mechanic ordered a part from the dealer on Monday, and installed it when it arrived yesterday. But the car had to be driven fifty miles before the computer could be reset to pass inspection. Knowing how long that would take him to get to, I went over there to do it myself.

While I was waiting, there was a crumb-top apple pie on the counter. I’m not sure if it was meant for customers, but let me tell you, if that question had been the only consideration, I would’ve had some. It would have been like water on the fire of my anxiety. But I’m proud to say that right now I not only know that the cost is too high, I’m strong enough to act on it. I didn’t have any.

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One Response to “The crumb-top apple pie I’m not eating”

  1. Gwyn Says:

    I salute you sir, in not succumbing to pie, especially when faced with mechanics.

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