Car Trouble

You may not know I am the proud owner of a 2007 Toyota Corolla, and it only recently passed 100,000 miles, which I also have some misbegotten pride about. I like having an old car for many reasons, including that I don’t get my panties in a twist when dings or scratches appear. I have on-street parking, and it never ceases to amaze me when city people buy a new car and then are outraged, OUTRAGED, I tell you, when that first inevitable ding appears. Or they insist on buying an SUV, therefore pretty much guaranteeing their big-ass car is going to be scraped, as we all try to squeeze in an impossible space, because you people park like ass when there are no lines to follow.

I also have some secret pride about not needing to rely on my car like those suburb people. I can walk or take a train anywhere. Well, at least until COVID fucked up taking a train, but let’s just say for argument sake, previously, I felt like a superior being for not needing my old car. I chose to have it, but I wasn’t dependent on it.

Can you hear the gods and goddesses chuckling at the huge opening I gave them?

So there I was, innocently being proud and pious in my old-car-I’m-saving-the-planet-more-than-you-self delusion, when the kid got into a fender bender. No one was hurt, and lucky for me, the woman the kid rear-ended was a nice, calm mom who had a daughter my kid’s age (this is a parent thing, I swear. Unless you are a full on asshole, if you have a 20-something kid, it’s hard to see a 20-something in that scenario and be mad at him.) She happened to have a brand new SUV (whoops), but let’s be real — the height difference means that she had a small dent in her bumper (city driving!), and my Corolla?

Well, the front was crunched, but the kid was able to drive it home. And then began the great Car Accident Odyssey.

First, if you are my age, you may remember there was a time when the cops came to the accident, and they wrote up the he said-she said report. The kid informed me that the police said to fill out the form online. I was like, okaaaaaay, writing accident reports is probably not a good use of police time, although if they profile People of Color, then yes, let’s keep those streets safe, and please fill out the accident report.

We discovered that “filling out the form online” actually means, fill out some of the form online, then print it out so you can draw in the accident scene. The kid had to add in a rotary because only an intersection and Y configuration were included in the diagram. People, this is Massachusetts, there are rotaries everywhere, and they probably are the scene of most accidents. Then, do you think you can scan it and upload it back? Oh, no. Now you must snail mail copies to the police department, your insurance company, and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. Like anyone is going to open that mail in the next few years.

Because I am Gen X, I have a printer, it’s in our contract. However, my understanding is many people, and most people under a certain age don’t even own a printer. Also, I had to coach my kid on how to address an envelope. Before this, he had probably only done it once or twice in his whole life.

Now. Given that, statistically, more accidents are caused by people of a certain age who don’t have printers or know how to send snail mail, exactly how many of these reports are actually getting filed, I ask you? Mm. Right.

Anywho, that was just the gods and goddesses getting started with me. Next up was the Insurance Adjuster (cue dramatic music). I had to wait about a week, but he came, he poked, and he declared my old car a total loss. Now, I don’t know if you have poked your head in the used car/new car world lately, but the prices are absolutely crazy right now. There are no computer chips, people are holding on to their used cars, and for all I know, cars are stuck on container ships. Even if I were to buy an older car, because that’s my prideful jam, I would still probably need to take out at least a small loan because the prices are so high. Since I own my car now, that shit is nuts. I’m going to have a car payment to get dings and scratches on my car? I think not.

I very firmly told them I wanted to keep my car, which then led to more shenanigans. My car has been in the shop for 3 weeks, and it looks like I still have another week or more to go. They are waiting on a few parts (see previous note about container ships). But when I finally get it back? Is that the end? Oh no. Then I have to take it to a special state inspection site, and there are only 5 in MA. Of course the one closest to my house is “temporarily” closed. Great, so when the car is ready, I’ll have to drive it nearly an hour to ensure, what, that it’s running properly?

No! Not that. This part make me laugh. Remember all those cops shows in the 70s? At least several times a season, the plot would feature a “chop shop.” Sometimes they were dealing with high-end stolen car parts and sometimes, just high-volume, low-end stolen car parts. And sometimes it was just a random murder in the chop shop. Well, apparently, that is no longer a plot point writers can use because the body shop has to supply me with a list of all the parts they used as replacements. If the replacement parts are used, they have to identify the cars’ VIN numbers. No more shady guys in greasy overalls and greasy hair on TV for you. And that is a pop culture tragedy.

Not for nothing, all these requirements are a civil servant’s wet dream — lord help me if I show up without the proper paperwork, the inspection payment receipt, and at the right time. The website says that there are staff shortages, so call to confirm the hours. And of course there are no phone numbers listed. If I am missing one thing, I have no doubt they will send my sorry ass home, and I will be back where I started.

This, I know, is all very entertaining, but it is also just me jumping off the bridge before I get to it. This presupposes that we really are waiting on the actual parts; how many 2007 Corolla parts are actually out there? I guess I should be grateful for eBay and hoarders.

And yet, this still doesn’t add up to the gods and goddesses punishment. No, that’s more personal. You see, it has now been 7 weekends that I have not been able to drive to the Blue Hills and walk in the woods and forget the crazy world among the trees and rocks. Yes, I am lucky enough to have the Arnold Arboretum near me, and Jamaica Pond, but they are urban, and manicured, and filled with other people. So on top of everything else, I have been forced to acknowledge that I do need my car. Desperately, like someone from the suburbs. Jesus Mary Joseph, get me the flip out of here!

Are you gods/goddesses happy now? Or do I have to burn sage or something too? And fine, every time I use the car this summer, hauling around my friend’s paddle boat, I’ll be humbled and grateful. But I still won’t care if my car gets dinged.


  1. Ha ha ha ha ha!! I know! What is WRONG with me? Is 23 is the new 40? (it’s more like our 16) LOL. Being a loving mother is a real bitch,

    1. Just remind him of this when 80yo Sandy is living with her well-to-do son and totals his brand-new Lexus.

      Someone who once backed into a 4-foot-tall fence post

  2. Starsky and Hutch are personally outraged but agree with me that this post is outstanding. Why is the ONLY “system” or business that can keep track of anything for itself and be there to do its job, and not put the burden on us to do things it merely approves/disapproves, is the public library?? Every time I put a book on Hold, and they keep track of when it’s my turn and then put in on a shelf for me and let me know it’s there, I’m frankly stunned and feel I should burn incense at the Circulation desk.

  3. I was thinking EXACTLY of Starsky and Hutch! That show has NOT aged well, but god, I loved it when it was on, and chop shop story lines abounded. As for the magic of libraries, maybe it’s because librarians care?

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