The National Kidney Foundation came by today to pick up my Jeep. They've got a donation program where you give them your car and they give you a sack full of human kidneys in about thirty days, after they auction off the vehicle and convert its value to kidney currency. At the going street rate, I'm expecting one, maybe two pillow sacks full of kidneys. I probably won't keep them. Probably.
We tried selling the Jeep, but people from the internet are too quick to low-ball you. That, and I'm a horrible salesman. I figure, if I'm up front and honest, they'll find out what an upstanding person I am and that in and of itself should raise its net worth. Instead, they're all like, "I'm not buying a Jeep with an engine that goes CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK when you turn it on. Is there something wrong with you?" And I tell them no, you read the ad; I was straight up, now give me some money. And they don't. They try to haggle by asking me to cut the price in half, and instead, after I bid them farewell, I just raise the price on Craigslist. But even that doesn't work. They just keep going lower. I don't think they understand haggling.
What they truly don't understand is that its sentimental value is through the roof. I got this Jeep when I got my wife, though at that time I had only duped her into dating me. It was on one of our first dates that I asked her to drive it home for me from the car shop. I trusted her even then.
I have always been disappointed in this Jeep. I only got it out of necessity after I spun out my old black Cherokee on the East Beltline and slammed into the side of a car three vehicles ahead of me while leaving the in-between cars unscathed and slack-jawed. Ta-da! The Grand Cherokee was a step down from the Cherokee. I seemed to have lots of problems with it. It got horrible pick-up and, when driving up slowly sloping inclines, it would often feel the need to jump down two or three gears at a time, sending the RPMs and your heart-rate sky-high. I had to get the transmission replaced after it started swapping spit with the radiator. The back hatch wouldn't open for a few years. The cruise control and air conditioning went in and out regularly. My wife's favorite was the windshield wipers which were tragically crippled and sporadic, and it was they who decided when the time was right to oscillate, not you. Three of the four electric windows' mechanical arms failed and left the window flaccid in the down position. A few months ago, the water pump went out on the first snowy day and my toes were cold while I waited for a tow-truck. And then the engine started making its death knell, a loud clacking sound that signaled an imminent and potentially catastrophic explosion. On top of all that, I was regularly taunted about the fact that it looked more like a van than a Jeep; a fact which I could not argue. It was time to move on.
That's not to say we haven't had our good times as well. We drove that thing everywhere. It has seen both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. We've had it on countless trips up to northern Michigan where, during the twilight hours, you can build up a exterior shell of blackflies an inch thick. We drove it to Cape Cod with the engine coughing and sputtering, forcing us to get new spark plugs, and I'm pretty sure the guy ripped me off by replacing something else unnecessarily. We drove it to California loaded with everything we needed to keep us going for four months on the road and, on the way back, we had a brake caliper seize up somewhere east of Lake Tahoe and we drove back to Michigan with a horrible grinding sound that you could feel in your feet. Ah, the memories of me yelling at my wife on the highway not to use the brakes. You can't put a price on that.
That Jeep had a wonderful aroma that will be hard to reproduce. Last night I just sat in it for a minute, trying to capture what remained of it, remembering all the good times. It's got a hint of dirty mountain biking socks hidden under the seats for weeks, mixed with a broken bottle of Aftershock and two broken bottles of Guinness absorbed into the back seat carpet (we weren't drinking, only transporting); the remnant aroma of a bag of weed which cooked in the hot summer sun for a weekend in the seat pockets, left by an unnamed acquaintance; it has absorbed the campfire smoke of trees in the Great Lakes, the Atlantic Coastline, as well as trees from the West Coast near Big Sur and Yosemite; it's got a year's worth of dog hair, mud, and saliva seeped into the carpet and seats without the slightest chance of ever coming out; and years of sand and sweat from biking, hiking, running, and beach excursions. I don't think they make an air freshener powerful enough to take that aroma away, and that's good, because I kind of like it.
But now it's time to part. We've had some good times, but there comes a point when you painfully realize it's time to move on. I've managed to avoid the catastrophic engine explosion so far, and I think that she's holding out just long enough so I don't have to see her die. I've made my peace, but it's hard to watch her go. She left quietly today while no one was around. Some people came by in white suits and a long white truck, and silently loaded her up to take her away. You know, I don't even need that sack of kidneys. There are other people who could probably use them way more than me. I'll let the Kidney Foundation keep them and distribute them however they see fit. It's what she would have wanted.