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Nathan's column: Farewell to a faithful friend

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opinion Farmington, 55024
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

I bought a new car about a month ago. I think I mentioned that.

It’s pretty nice. It gets me where I’m going. It doesn’t rattle over every tiny crack in the pavement or sound like the front end is coming off when I hit a pothole.

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That’s a particularly valuable quality this spring. Because there are a lot of potholes this spring. In case you hadn’t noticed.

I’ve already put a couple of thousand miles on the new car, but I didn’t get rid of the old one until last week. Car dealers are surprisingly stingy when you try to sell them a 10-year-old car that’s about to need its fourth transmission. And nobody believed the hail dimples on the roof and hood were there for aerodynamics. You know, like on a golf ball.

I thought about donating the car to charity, but somehow it that seemed too much like donating one of those exploding whales to a veterinary school.

Everybody knows vet schools don’t want whales. Even if they do cool things like explode.

Eventually, I sold it to a scrap yard that was willing to come to my house with a tow truck and haul it away. To give you an idea how little they gave me for it, I know somebody who sold a baseball card last week for nearly four times as much as I got for my 2004 Mazda.

I didn’t even get any bubble gum.

So, sure. My car was in pretty rough shape when I finally got rid of it. Even as I drove it halfway around the block from my alley parking space to the tow truck at the front of my house I realized how unsafe it seemed now that I had been reminded what a car was supposed to feel like (Fully functional brakes! An air conditioner that blows cold air! Far fewer mice!). But it was still a pretty good car for a lot of years.

Not long after I bought that little Mazda in 2003 I drove it through Colorado and Utah and down into Las Vegas. It went through mountain passes and along rural gravel roads that were pitched at an angle that seemed to require serious climbing gear.

The little blue car has gotten me to and from work in blizzards and torrential downpours. I sat in it on the shoulder of the Cedar Ave. bridge last summer while a hail storm put dents — er, speed dimples — all over it. It’s had a rock thrown through its rear window. I carried that rock with me on the floor of the back seat until just a few weeks ago. I told people I wanted it handy just in case another driver made me mad. Now it’s in the landscaping at the front of my house now, still available for revenge but somewhat less convenient.

It probably hadn’t been cleaned out as much as it should have been. When I cleared it out a few weeks ago in preparation for its disposalI found paper maps in the pocket behind the driver’s seat. Paper! I might as well have kept a globe in the trunk.

There’s nothing particularly fancy about my new car. It doesn’t have power seats or a giant touchscreen in place of a radio dial. I have to turn the windshield wipers on manually like a sucker.

Still, after so many years driving a car that was well past its prime it feels like a luxury.

I’m sure I’ll get used to it, though. Right around the time it starts to rattle over all of the bumps.

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