Fifteen Cent Part

Covair2Long before paradigm shifts were in vogue, my dad taught me a good life lesson.  I was so young. It was the late 70's and I desperately needed a car. So, Dad and I went down to the local Chevrolet used car lot to pick out the vehicle that was to announce my social status to the world. We picked out a 1962 shiny red Covair with bright red interior and real leather seats (most of you may not have heard of this short—lived classic) for the great price of $400. It was a small car with the motor in the trunk and the trunk in the front.

“It’s perfect,” I sighed. “We’ll take it,” said my dad. “By the way, Bob,” he said to the used car salesman, with whom we were now best friends, “Just why is all that oil blowing out the back?”

“Fifteen cent part, Al,” said our new pal, Bob. “We’ll have it fixed in a jiffy.” (There was a time people talked like that.) They shook hands in that masculine way that men were used to doing in those days.

I drove away, excited, fully liberated, and loving every second of my new found independence. Driving down the street, I suddenly spotted a car right in front of me about to make a left-hand turn. I stepped on the brakes. Nothing happened! My heart beat rapidly. Thump! Thump!  I noticed my entire week flashing before me. Uh, oh. This isn’t good.  Two milliseconds later, I ran smack dab into the car in front of me. The Corvair, with the trunk in the front and the motor in the back, curled up and died in the middle of the street with the trunk in the front now smashed into the middle of the trunk of the car in front of me. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

After all information was exchanged, I hiked over to the nearest 7-11 to call my dad. (There were no cell phones in those days). Sobbing into the phone, I tried to grasp how the car I owned for a total of 16 ½ minutes was now a mere memory of itself. I felt terrible. Nothing could console me.

“Dad,” I wailed, while looking at this crumpled mess now attracting attention from the entire neighborhood, “I wrecked the car. I stepped on the brakes. It….didn’t stop! I rear-ended the car in front of me.”

There was a pause on the other end of the phone. I could actually hear my father thinking. After a moment, came the astute wisdom of fathers. “Honey,“ said my dad, in that voice I shall never forget, “it’s not your fault. She was in your way.”

Thank you , Dad.   From the mouths of fathers come their lessons to daughters.