Monday, October 24, 2005

Working for peanuts is all very fine, but I can show you a better time

This construction site used to be a carpark. One day, something like ten years ago, Kam and I went back to this carpark and walked around it several times, trying to find the car. I'll admit sometimes I don't remember exactly where I parked the car. I can usually figure it out if I don't think about it too hard. But this particular time I was quite sure where I had left the car, and it simply wasn't there.

We reported the theft to the police and caught a bus home. Dad got on the phone and put the word out with lots of people, and the very next day one of his friends spotted someone driving it.

When the police approached, the guy got out and ran away, leaving the engine still running. There was no damage. I was allowed to take it home straight away. The police knew who had taken it. They thought he owned one of the same model, and had probably nicked it for parts.

If you're going to have your car stolen, this is a pretty good way for it to go. Better by far than having it go for a joyride with a bunch of unsavoury yoof, which is what happened the second time a couple of years later. Still, I'm a pretty lucky person. I got it back again, but with broken rear and side windows. It had been dumped off-road in some bushes. Probably the worst part was that they had doused it in motor oil, I guess they intended to set it alight, though for some reason they didn't get around to that. Because of the broken windscreen, the oil made a huge mess inside the car.

I always kept a bottle of motor oil in the boot, because the engine leaked like a sieve and I had to continually pour oil through it to keep it running. It was the kind of car that you shouldn't ever park in a tidy person's driveway. (It took me a while to realise that it wasn't exactly normal for cars to drip oil; I thought all driveways had those stains.)

I got new windows from a wrecker, and painstakingly cleaned out the oily mess as well as I could. Even after that I still got a good bit more driving out of it. It was a '76 Corolla, I bought it in '94, and drove many, many kilometres as far as Melbourne and Noosa on various trips. The engine finally died in '99. On the way back from a Sydney Eurythmics concert, near Goulburn, unfortunately. Thanks for the 3 a.m. rescue, Mum.

I loved that car. It gave me independence, adventure, and the abillity to do a perfect hill start. It meant being an adult who could come and go as I pleased (and deliver pizza). No car will ever be as cool as my first car.

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