Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I Run into a Dented Old Friend

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I Run into a Dented Old Friend

Article excerpt

It is always a little sad to say goodbye to a loyal friend you are leaving forever, a companion you have spent many hours with, in all sorts of circumstances. David didn't think I should be so unhappy about the separation. "It's just a car," he said. "And we need a smaller one."

We were standing in the hot parking lot of a car dealership, keys to the new car in David's hand, keys to the old one in mine. I patted the fender of my blue minivan and sighed.

David took the keys and handed them to the salesman, who shrugged helplessly.

As we drove away, I turned back to look at my trusty comrade, standing silent and alone.

As it turned out, I liked the new car. It ran beautifully, all the tires were good, and I happily quit buying oil by the case. Our teenage children were delighted to ride around in a small green sedan instead of a smoky van with a missing hood ornament and a scrape on the back of one of the seats. We got the radio stations lined up right, and before long someone spilled a soft drink down the back seat, which took a lot of scrubbing.

It began to feel like our family's car.

Still, I missed looking in the rear-view mirror and seeing the seats where I used to buckle in my little children. I missed the dent in the side where one of the kids had hit it with a baseball, even though I'd scolded him at the time.

I thought about the family trips in that car and the laughs and fun we'd had together.

Then one day I happened to go to a large shopping center in a nearby town. I parked in a sea of vehicles, hoping I could find my car again when it was time to go home.

As I walked through the parking lot on my way into the store, I saw a familiar blue minivan coming slowly toward me, creeping down the rows of cars. The young woman driving it looked from side to side, searching for an empty parking spot. …

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