This spring a gusty thunderstorm blew through the small town where my daughter attends college. In the midst of it, a huge tree limb fell on her car and totaled it. It was her favorite car and its name was Alfred. Alfred had been a gift from her grandparents, a second-hand car, but a great one. It had been with her on many special occasions, was as big as a boat so she could transport all her friends, and it generally made for a terrific “haul all your stuff to and from school” car. Poor Alfred died a violent death and we were as crushed as he was over his untimely departure. He was a reliable friend and had become part of the family.
As you can see, we had a relationship with this car. Does that seem strange to you? We happen to be people who love “story.” We care about the history of a thing; where it came from; where it has been; what it means. We also love relationship. Connecting with people and even cars matters. So when Alfred was pronounced “totaled” it was more than just a car we were grieving – it was all that he had come to mean to my daughter and to the rest of us. Facebook was littered with condolences from her high school friends who knew him well and shared many of those good memories. We were saying goodbye to a friend.
Not many people share this same level of attachment to their vehicles, but that’s Ok, we understand. We don’t expect that. Which is actually my point – to us there is Goodness in this “car love” thing, but where do you find that, right? Most people struggle to manage personal relationships – cars are just transportation to and from all the important stuff. When it came time to replace Alfred we were just hoping to find a reliable car that would travel well to the Northeast where my daughter would be spending the summer at her museum studies internship.
The search began the regular way, car lot visits and internet views of suitable cars in our area – all fine, but deafeningly impersonal and disconnected from the soul of these random ownerless cars. We found several contenders but all lacked that sense of story – yes, we know – this is how it is done – just a transaction. Hours before we were to make a decision, a close friend of my husband suggested that we consider a car her client was selling. She raved about the kind of person he was and how she liked him. Well, when a friend says something like that, you listen, so Mark immediately made contact with the guy and set up a time to see the car.
I sat in our car and waited while my husband met with Car Guy. We were meeting at his house and as we drove up his wife and kids were playing in the front yard. I knew from the second Mark and Car Guy shook hands that this was special. There is something in the way people connect that tells you a lot about them. Turns out, Mark’s friend was spot on, this guy and his family were precious. There was integrity and Goodness in everything about the deal. He went above and beyond to make sure our daughter would have an excellent experience with this car. She loved it and all of us were happy with the arrangement.
When they went to pick up the car and finish the deal, my daughter played with the kids and everyone had a nice time connecting. As she was leaving, Car Guy handed her a note and explained that he wanted her to know a little about the car. Turns out, giving up the car was harder on him than anyone really realized. His family was growing and they needed to make the jump to the “family car,” but Car Guy loved this car and he wanted my daughter to love it too. Here is the letter he wrote:
“Congratulations on your new car! I wanted to give you an introduction to the car that the manufacturer’s manual does not cover…the memories of this car.
As you see, there are almost 153,000 miles on the odometer. Being the sole owner, I’ve put every one of those miles there. Each one of these miles represents some phase in the progression of my life. I worked my first job out of college while driving this car. I took my wife on our first date I this car. We drove away from the church where we were married in this car. I parked this car in the garage of the first home we bought. I drove both of my children home from the hospital when they were born in this car.
Besides all of the major milestones this car has been a part of, there are endless miles where it just got me from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ safely… traffic jams, torrential downpours, and snowstorms. I’ve done my best in making sure all of the major upkeep has been completed. All you need to do now is keep the oil changed and tires maintained. If you do, I am confident that you will make many great memories as well.”
And there it was, all we had hoped for - connection and story – a beautiful gift to a girl who names her cars and loves them like family members. We were all beyond happy with the way things turned out, and I think Rebecca will be too. Yes, ‘Rebecca’ is the name given to this new car. Apparently, my daughter felt that this car was, in fact, a girl. I hope Car Guy doesn’t mind – somehow. I don’t think he will.
Look for Goodness. It is all around you. And remember that Goodness can impact every area of your life. Be open to it in the strangest of places. Wishing you beautiful Car Karma and much Goodness!
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Goodness can make its way into all areas of you life. Do you have car karma?