road trips
After graduation, when the time came to leave
the University of Puget Sound, I was not so sure
I actually
leave. My means of transporta-
tion was a turbo diesel Mercedes of questionable
mechanical integrity that had been in the family
for 30 years.
In 1982 my grandfather bought himself and
his wife twin-model cars: my grandmother’s was
a stick-shift, blue, with a white leather interior.
His was tan.
That car, the tan one, started its first trek from
Texas to Tacoma the night before I flew to college.
Eager to avoid teary goodbyes and the inevitable
freshman shopping trips to Target, my father had
decided to race me to Washington. By the time
I got back from my last farewell dinner, he had
made it to Amarillo.
I had received the car formally for my 16th
birthday, totaled it at age 17, and then received it
again for my 18th birthday. As I came to realize,
temporary or seasonal deaths of the Mercedes be-
came less unusual as my college years progressed.
It fared pretty well during freshman year, at
the end of which, moving out of Todd/Phibbs—
—I placed anything oversized on the
roof and had friends take turns standing up
through the sunroof to make sure everything
remained secure. I was only moving down to 907
N. Lawrence—into a small house that was heavily
furnished with the previous tenants’ art, clothing,
kitchenware, food, and anything else you might
amass in four years at UPS. Most of which we
accepted gladly. The ceiling (an inch above our
heads upstairs) sparkled, the kitchen had inviting
diner-type seating, and the house came with a
hookah, a sleeping porch with a pullout bed, and
all the record albums we could ever desire. We
were in heaven.
As for the Mercedes, once the sophomore-
year rainy season arrived, the dried-out rubber
window molding lost form and function. A
puddle developed in the back seat, reminding
passengers of the rain forest climate extremes we
had all committed to live in. The intrusive water
also created a stubborn humidity on the inside
of the windshield, which added a new aspect of
danger to any dusky drive. Mold and all sorts of
Northwestern fuzzy growth formed and flour-
ished while I was away on breaks.
More problems ensued junior year, when
the windows stopped rolling down, but, more
important, stopped rolling
This introduced
further strange aquatic intricacies. Nonetheless I
left the car for nine months and flew to Europe
to study and explore. From abroad, I occasion-
ally heard ominous details about the condi-
tion of my abandoned love: “There are plants.
Mushrooms.” The information my bio and
chem friends relayed is unrepeatable, but quite
accurate, I’m sure.
Upon my return, I cautiously approached
my car. Yep, dead battery and seized brakes. The
five guys across the alley, they couldn’t move it.
Meghan Brady’s (’12) Jeep Grand Cherokee? Oh,
yeah! And we’re
With a new battery and
some serious anti-mold spray I was again mak-
ing trips to The Met.
All was fine and graceful leading into senior
year, but once winter break rolled around an-
other period of immobility began. At this point
I had pretty much figured out a lifestyle where I
did not exactly need my car to function. But as
May neared I started to fantasize about driving
the car back to Texas and contacted my good ol’
Mercedes mechanic in Puyallup. Fearing that the
glow plugs had officially given out, I called a tow
truck and crossed my fingers.
When I picked up the tan car, the right-front
brakes, suspension, and back window all had
been replaced. Tires were next. After swinging
The mechanics of movement
On the college car, that homely clunker hand-me-down, but O how we love them
by Hattie Lindsley ’12