THE ODDS (Debbie Does ALS)


Like a pair of new shoes

We bought a car on Friday night. We had to replace John's Saturn (it was deader than dead), and thought this might be a good opportunity to purchase a second hybrid -- this one with automatic transmission. I was thrilled with the idea because, while I still can shift the gears in my stickshift hybrid, every now and then I get a hint of difficulty. So, off to Honda we went. Earlier telephone conversations had paved the way and we knew what we were getting right off the bat.

Bill, our salesperson, turned out to be a very, very nice man. We exchanged all the usual pleasantries, reviewed what we had previously discussed, then headed out the door for The Test Drive.

It wasn't new, but it was newer than what we were trading in. (I use the word "trading" loosely; with 275,000 miles and a bad engine, we got the better end of the deal.) There it sat in all its clean whiteness, ready to welcome us as its new owners.

I got behind the wheel with no problem. The door was heavy -- heavier than what I am used to -- but Bill closed it for me. Okay. The seatbelt was a little hard to buckle due to the fact that the fastener was positioned right up next to the console. I scooched over closer to the door so I could maneuver a little better. Okay. The key was next. As it did not come equipped with Allen wrenches and foam tubing, I had a very hard time turning it. I'm not even sure I did turn it; it may have been turned for me. Sigh. Okay. Time to drive. I reached over to put the car into drive and realized there was a button on the shift that needed to be pushed to get it out of park. This was accomplished using my left hand as it reached over to help my right, which does not and will never again push buttons. I placed my hands on the steering wheel (a much narrower design than I am accustomed to) and off we went.

As I drove, I realized how much effort it was taking to hold onto and to turn the steering wheel. This hybrid is a heavier car and I could feel it even when I was going straight. I made my way around a long loop -- about 4 miles -- which brought me back to the dealership. I was sold, so was John, all we had to do was sign on the dotted line.

Now, I'm sure at least a few of you will be able to understand this analogy: buying this car was like buying a great pair of pointy toed high heels. God, they look so good on -- so good that you pay no attention to the pinched feeling in your toes. The shoes are perfect and you must have them, no matter what. The problem is, each time you wear them the pinching gets worse and becomes more and more difficult to ignore. You might tell yourself it's okay, if you hold your foot a certain way it won't hurt so much, you'll get used to it eventually. But you never really do.

After bringing the car home, I took Cecilia for a drive. All the things I mentioned above -- my pinched toes -- were still there. I did my best to ignore them. On Sunday, I drove the car to Williamsburg with Lynne and her sisters; there was no denying the car was great, but it was not a great fit for me. It will, however, fit the other drivers in the family -- particularly C Claire. It's a tank and will serve her well.

I will wear this new pair of shoes on occasion, but only when someone is with me to help me. In the meantime, I and my much loved little hybrid will continue on down the road; this gem of a car as comfortable as a great pair of running shoes. When shifting becomes an issue, I'll figure something out, but that won't be necessary anytime soon.

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