As a student of engineering, time can be measured in many ways. Though the most common is with a clock, the earth’s rotation can also be determined in other metrics. When pertaining to a car, it is measured in years, miles, and, most importantly, memories. We all know that years and miles are not the accurate bell weather of age in the automotive world.
If the vehicle is properly cared for, it can be considered young regardless of what the odometer or title states as its birthday. Such was the case with my trusty Ford Escort and the demon of time. It just went too fast for me.
Most, if not all, of you, are unfamiliar with my little car. It is nothing special to the world, but this nondescript little Ford had the heart of a lion. It soldiered on in every type of weather, road condition, and situation. The Escort has been a blessing and always delivered me to my destination without a whimper. It has been the main component of my writing career, allowing me to go where I needed to without ever breaking down or causing me to miss an appointment.
It has done this for the better part of 500,000 miles. It showed little sign of slowing down. If that is not special, then I do not know what is. I remember bringing it home in the rain on August 17, 1998. I parked it on the ramp leading down into the cornfield across from my parent’s farmhouse.
I went to get my dog Sparky and showed it to him. When he spotted it, he stopped in his tracks since he believed it was a stranger trespassing. I told him that everything was OK, that it was our car now. He wagged his tail, preceded to look the Ford over, and as a final gesture before going into the cornfield to look for a groundhog, he gave it a lick on the rear bumper cover. Who knows, maybe that lick is what made the Escort what it was?
Subsequently, the Escort and I became one. It took Charlotte and me to the church to get married and then on our honeymoon. It went on countless business trips, vacations, and mental health rides. The Escort was responsible for bringing home my beloved pet chicken Emily, taking Charlotte’s dog J.C. home from the vet with a dire diagnosis and then to her final resting place behind our house on the farm. It transported my dad to the hospital for treatments in his seven-year battle against cancer and my family to his funeral. Then, in like fashion, it served silently as Charlotte’s mom took ill and went to her eternal home with the Lord.
That little car was always there for us during happy and sad times – the definition of a true friend.
I owe it to the Escort to provide it with a life of leisure after a fulfilling career. Out of respect, it needs to be put on a pension plan. Not that it became unreliable, but it was more prudent for it to wander not so far. The days of it running out I-80 1,000 miles or more should be curtailed because if something were to happen, it would be burdensome to get her home.
Since it was new, I was the only one that wrenched on the Ford. It is a one-mechanic car, and I do not plan on changing that. The Escort is now on an invisible 100-mile tether.
Filling the Escort’s shoes was not going to be an easy task. However, the journey in anticipation of this sorrowful day began several years back. In 2013, a new addition arrived in the Bohacz garage to be parked next to the Escort so they could talk. The Rookie (Ford Fiesta), as the Ox Cart (the Escort’s name) calls it, is all-ears as it is told of the wanderlust its elder has enjoyed. The conversation occurs in the still of the night when only cars can talk, and no one else can hear.
With giddy anticipation, The Rookie cannot wait to return from a sojourn to tell the Ox Cart where it has been. As a true mentor, the Ox Cart listens to and enjoys the enthusiasm of youth discovering the world.
Interestingly, both The Rookie and the Ox Cart are so alike. The fuel tanks are within 4/10 of a gallon of each other. The overall length is between ½ inch, and the engines are only 23 cubic inches apart. The Rookie has six forward speeds to the Ox Cart’s four.
Maybe it is age, but the Ox Cart is a little shorter and wider than the youngster, and so am I these days.
My wife and I have shown The Rookie what it is like to enjoy the open road. It accumulated 215,000 miles in wanderlust excursions over the past few years. It proudly wears its covering of bugs on the front bumper and dirt road dust on its hindquarters. It has been to Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota numerous times, along with many trips to the Eastern Corn Belt and beyond.
The Rookie has proven very road worthy and has averaged 50 mpg on these excursions with a best of 56.2 mpg. Its oil pan is filled with 5W-20 Mobil 1, and a road atlas is in the back seat.
The Ox Cart has proudly passed the torch.