Buying and selling cars in America. He tells my daughters -- I guarantee that before it's all over, you, along with nearly every person in this country will have had a car.
So, no leaks? -- I ask, watching something drip from the exhaust pipe. Water, Ed whispers. That’s just water. He is concentrating on the front end. Why doesn’t the hood fit?
The young owner explains -- Well, when the wild turkey landed on the hood...
Earlier, on another call about another car:
I bought this car because my favorite one wasn’t working. So, until I could fix it, I needed something to drive. But now it’s fixed, so I’m selling this one.
We drive out to see one such story – the one that once sported turkeys on its hood. A kid, really just a kid in Lodi (twenty miles north of here), jumping around junk yards looking for spare parts. And now he's done with it all. Moving on. Wants the cash. Ed mutters – you didn’t mention the broken windshield and the loose headlight.
Do you like it? Ed asks this as we take it out for a spin.
The thing is, I don’t. It feels like a car that has hit many animals in its short twenty year life and is being held together with rubber bands.
In the last five years I’ve hardly needed a car. Bikes, buses, closeby markets – they freed me from the madness of constant driving. But, life puts you in different palces at different times and now I anticipate that I will have to occasionally drive. Especially once I sell the condo and move away from the bus routes.
Car shopping has been, as I have already said, hugely depressing. Most people are slobbish inside their cars – even more so than inside their homes. And the rust... and the spills, and dents...
It feels, sometimes, as if it’s impossible these days to buy a decent car for under $1000.
But I keep trying.
We speed this way and that, across the countryside and beyond, with the eternal hope of the perfect little nothing. For under $1000.