Why I Don’t Own a Mercedes SLR Convertible

Cars. Don’t trust them.

Age I was when we got a white Oldsmobile Cutlass: 4

Age I was when the very same Oldsmobile Cutlass became mine: 16

Random warning lights coming on in my minivan that mean exactly nothing: 2

Cars and I have trust issues.

I did not grow up around people who worshipped cars. No one in my family scooted themselves handily underneath a Mustang or got greasy fingers or patted the hood and said, “She’s a peach.”

I grew up in the kind of family where, when we went for long trips in the car, we inevitably ended up in the McDonald’s drive thru with my dad ordering a cup of cold tap water (for the car) and two Dr. Peppers (for my mom and me), the smoke billowing up from under the hood.

Later, from about age 7 to age 11, we owned a creamy yellow Volkswagen Beetle that made us backseat passengers feel like we were riding on top of a lawnmower engine. The seats were some kind of plastic-y hard material that never smelled quite right.

It didn’t have a gas gauge that worked, a point of contention between my mom and dad. They were each supposed to keep track of when they put gas in the car, and you can imagine how well that worked out.

One day, when my dad was out of town, my mom had to drive me to the pediatrician’s office, which was clear on the other side of Atlanta. On our way back, through a gorgeous richie-rich area of sprawling lawns and long driveways, the car gave a sputter and graciously rolled onto the beautifully-maintained grass of Old Money.

My mom was not in a good mood at this point.

We had to knock on the door of Mrs. Old Money, who was certain we were criminals. It might have made her feel better to know that the getaway car was not exactly able to get away. Always an issue for true criminals. I, however, would have been glad to hang out in her air conditioned kitchen for hours. The Beetle was like a malevolent oven; a loud, plastic oven. The back windows did not roll down.

That car long gone, I was lucky to get a car when I turned 16. It wasn’t the Beetle (hooray!), but a large, white Oldsmobile that we’d had since I was four.

It had a plaid interior.

And it could seat 17 of my closest friends.

When I drove it, I repeated over and over: I am building character. I am building character.

I built a lot of character while I was in high school.

One morning after a sleepover at a friend’s house, I offered to go get doughnuts. My friend went with me. As we rolled up to a stop sign, my car decided it was tired. And cold. And would not start again.

In the era before cell phones, this necessitated knocking on some random person’s home early on a Saturday morning.

I’m starting to see a pattern here: I became a social person because our cars didn’t work. Is my extroversion due to unreliable cars?


While I was growing up, my dad drove a lot. Commuting was not what he considered a fun time. He parked in this big, scary place he called “The Pit.” It was one of those places with lots of graffiti, little ambient light and a plethora of potholes. It did not gain your confidence.

When I was in college, my dad’s car got stolen. You might wonder if the car was a Porsche or a Ferrari.

It was a blue Oldsmobile that had been my grandmother’s.

When it was recovered two weeks later, the only things missing were my sister’s mix tapes and a whole bunch of tapes of the “Police.” I have to wonder if the car thieves were weirded out or really liked “Roxanne.”

Today, I drive a minivan. Some moms and dads think minivans are uncool and shout to the world, “Parent Nerd”!

Me, I don’t care. As long as my minivan gets me from Point A to Point B, I’m good. It’s getting older now. Like many older things (myself included), not everything works at all times. The tire pressure sensor hasn’t worked for seven years. Friends who have ridden with me lean over and say, “Hey–your tire pressure… don’t you wanna check it?” And I go, “Eh.” Now, the “Check Engine” light comes on at random times. That sensor is broken, too.

The old feelings of mistrust are back. Each day driving is a potential breakdown.

Good news: I might get to meet some new friends when my car breaks down near someone’s house! I guess it’s time to start turning on the charm.


11 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Own a Mercedes SLR Convertible

  1. Daryl says:

    I could always remove the warning lightbulbs in the dash consol. Problem solved.

  2. calmyourbeans says:

    Reblogged this on calmyourbeans.

  3. Melissa says:

    And Daryl’s comment would have Tracy cringing…I pick on Tracy and tell him I married him for his simple last name, Christmas Tree skirt (Handmade by my MIL), his ability with cars and his money….I’m still waiting for him to find his money, but I figure he’s saved us a ton by fixing our cars. I drive a 1991 Toyota Van with over 200,000 miles and am a card carrying member and the Parent Nerd group. My entry there was destined by the 1972 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that I drove in college…the USS Blue Goose. Now you know why I loved that Rx7 so much…it soothed my battered car ego.

  4. jmmcdowell says:

    Hmm, I wonder if your thieves were the same that came through the Girl Scout camp where I was a counselor for two summers (teaching horseback riding). They didn’t steal my Walkman, but they did take the Police tapes…. Curious and curiouser!

    Oh, black tape over the sensors is probably another option. 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Wow! I had no idea The Police were the choice of thieves. Maybe this warrants an undercover investigation by Dateline.

      The sensor lights may be trying to tell me something; I haven’t yet figured out what it is. So I’m afraid to cover them up.

  5. crubin says:

    Everybody should drive a lemon at some point. One needs something to look forward, after all. And I had my share of lemons as well as my share of being carless. I’m glad those days are behind me, but you are correct, those crap cars helped build character. Unfortunately for me, unlike yours, they did not inspire extroversion. 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      I’ve had days where I cursed and wanted to take up biking everywhere, but as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’m not particularly coordinated in a biking sort of way. Extroversion may be the only thing I have going for me in the car department. ; )

  6. E says:

    My first car was named Box Car Willie, because well, it looked like a box car. It was a Blue Datson (now Nissan) 510 and I loved it. Except the gas gauge didn’t work and my stepfather kept telling me to calculate my mileage with how many gallons i put in to determine how far I would get before I ran out of gas. I was 18. Never was good at math.

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, I don’t think I would be the best at keeping track of gas usage.

      Our Datsun was the one that kept overheating all the time. I don’t have fond memories of it… but then again, I wasn’t the one driving it.

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