by Joe Ball | CNBNews Contributor
There was a death in my immediate family recently. It ended a close relationship of over 11 years. My car died. My Mercury Grand Marquis, which joined my household in April 1998, died suddenly. No warning. No sputtering.
What turned out to be my last time with the car was a solo drive from Phila. to Ventnor, NJ ., down the Atlantic City Expressway. Average of 70 + miles per hour. No problem. I parked on Martindale Ave. Ignition turned off. Then moments later, following a request to park around the corner on Atlantic Ave., again, no problem. Ignition okay. Into gear. Go. Park. No hint of what was to come.
Two nights later, I went to use the car. I was comfortably seated with my wife, Sandy. No ignition. No click-click-click. Nothing. Zero. AAA was called. Tow truck arrived. Battery charged. Still zero. “It’s the starter, (probably) the tow truck driver said. “You have to take it to a mechanic”. It was a Sunday evening. No mechanics working. Understood. The next day, came the bad news, from the mechanic, Bud, owner of Taylor & Son, Gulf Service Center, Margate, NJ.
“The engine is dead!” He said.
“Can it be fixed,” I asked (my knowledge of auto repair can be contained in a thimble).
“Maybe”, he told me, “but I wouldn’t drive it”.
His advice came with a bill of $131.65. Having heard, over and over, the “Purple Heart” ads on K.Y.W. radio and their willingness to pick up and take autos “for those who gave … ” I agreed to donate my decades – plus friend of metal. And then my sensitivities hit. My car … it served me faithfully. … Never went through a red light … never parked illegally … never was rude to other vehicles on roads, or highways. … Never complained when a retaining wall met it’s rear bumper … or when a bush at the end of my driveway grew out, scraping the side … or when a fence gate caused a front bumper bruise… And, credit my car for being oblivious to living outside… in heavy rain, oppressive heat & occasional snow piled high on its body.
For “just–in–case” situations, my car always carried emergency items. They included battery jumper cables, a Swiss Army knife, flashlight, blanket, minor medical items, road flares, matches, an air pump – – and lollypops. And my car always … always … passed inspection. Never a failing grade. Together, we had amenities not to be found on today’s cars: A cassette player … room for three people to sit in the front, on a “bench” type seat … push-button entrance panel outside the drivers seat (never a worry about locking key in car). It’s difficult not to use the female gender, “her”, when referring to my car. To do so, “she” had such a good-looking sleek exterior, and an interior comfort. From time-to-time, I would hand pat the dashboard, as one does with a pet & say: “Good car. Good car!”
So, when the “Purple Heart” tow truck arrived, hooked up my travel companion, and started away into where?, what?, I felt depressed. I patted my Grand Marquis for the last time. And said: “Old friend … Goodbye.”
Published on January 23, 2008.
Joe Ball, Philadelphia-area publisher, advertising agency owner and radio show producer, has been named chairman of the U.S. International Film & Video Festival judges committee in the Business-to-Business category. The subject materials are videos submitted by businesses, production firms and advertising agencies from throughout the U.S. and internationally. Ball continues to lead American Advertising Services, 29 Bala Ave., Ste. 117, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004, a firm he founded 55 years ago.
Related: Author Joe Ball