Greetings, my defective car—this message is for you


Meghan Kennedy

A picture I took from my car showcasing the sunset and my Central Trend sticker. This was a rare drive where not one problem occured.

Hello, my 2008 Subaru Outback. As we both know, times have been quite trying as of recently—all I can say is that we have been through it.

I have officially been your driver since August—a time when you were at around 200,000 miles—and there have been moments few and far between in which we haven’t faced conflict. 

As our companionship commenced, you suffered from heatstroke. Your engine that is said to be luxurious in nature had overheated—may I add on several occasions—throwing us into winds of danger. You bled green, syrupy antifreeze from your metallic veins onto my driveway and let a furious steam rise from beneath your tan hood. Every time I watched your engine temperature dial meet the foreboding, red dash, I would pull you aside to have a serious chat and threaten you with more authoritative intervention, courtesy of my dad.

But you never listened and paid no attention to the consequences. I watched you in my garage, sitting through strenuous operations day after day. And even after all of the appointments regarding your sweltering fevers, you still could not stop.

You eventually cooled down to a regulated temperature, a temperature at which it was safe for both of us to spend time on the roads—live a little, if you will. I’m even content in saying that we had a good run for a couple of months—no major obstacles, just minor, fourteen-year-old car ailments that I have grown accustomed to.

I guess those smooth rides weren’t enough for you because now, we are back in the same situation.

On New Year’s Day, what was supposed to be a fresh start to a fresh year, you grew a nasty attitude. You groaned with a cacophonous voice and trembled with more angst than I was used to. My best friend, Jessie Warren, rode along with us in the passenger seat, but you acted out nonetheless. First, the glowing tangerine of the check engine light encrusted its letters behind your steering wheel, signaling to me that I needed to pull over into some arbitrary cul-de-sac. 

After a concerned phone conversation with my dad, we hit the roads again, seeming to leave behind our problems. We then picked up another passenger, Lynlee Derrick, to join our carpool and made our way to the movie theater with a burning hope to make it there unscathed. I checked my weather app earlier that morning and came to the conclusion that we would be traversing a blizzard on the way back, but I figured that you would be able to handle it—you do have the experience after all of these years.

The three of us girls, teeming with energy and opinions from the movie we had just viewed, hopped back into your ivory seats, tracking traces of fresh snow from the soles of our shoes onto your floor. I stuck my key in the ignition, and what do you know—you wouldn’t start. You hiccupped and blinked every possible alert at me with such haste, coloring the remainder of the day in with a frantic, burdensome crayon. My parents drove all the way out to tag-team our problem, and my two fellow passengers were forced to make arrangements with a more trustworthy vehicle. 

I can’t trust you to drive, despite that being your main purpose as a car.

Ever since that day, you continue to behave in a virulent manner. Each time I sink into your leather chair, hold your MOMO steering wheel, and shift your gear into reverse, it’s a gamble. Will I have to wait fifteen minutes to monitor your blue dot until it disappears? Will I have to anticipate you stopping in the middle of the road? Will I have to call my parents to perform yet another rescue mission? Will I have to see your miscellaneous alerts cuss at me? 

At this point, we have done everything. My dad has altered your titanic structure numerous times; we dragged you out to the repair shop, and I have waited for your engine to heat up every time I have taken you out—what else could you possibly need?

But I still have one more bone to pick with you—Saturday night.

Throughout the entirety of the day, my dad had monitored your condition and had driven you all over the roads, rendering your state optimal for me to take you out. I simply had no worries about my evening plans. I warmed you up ten minutes before we set off and audibly said to you, “I don’t want to play games”—a phrase both of us have grown familiar with—for extra assurance, but I was generally hopeful for the night ahead of us. I made it all the way out to my first location and shifted you into park. And to my surprise, you flashed your angry signals at me, and your engine shut off, and the exhausting cycle we were used to reset. The rest of my energy was spent on you that night, praying that you wouldn’t entirely hinder my plans. You made it to the parking lot of the restaurant Poke Toki, but after that visit, your antics broke through the roof. 

Another convoy was thrown together by my parents to save my car from its own perils, and I had to use my mom’s monstrous Dodge in place of you for the remainder of the night. Honestly, it was nice for a change, being able to rely on it to not break down on me.

I now hinge on your dysfunction to be a part of my lunch table conversations, a way for me to alleviate the many itching qualms I have with you. Part of me has been defined by your haphazard nature, and I would rather that not be the case.

I simply can’t trust you anymore. I can’t trust you to take my brother and I to school on time. I can’t trust you to not be a financial burden. I can’t trust you to deliver my friends and I to our desired destinations safely and smoothly. I can’t trust you to drive, despite that being your main purpose as a car.

However, the last thing I want is to give you up. You were passed down to me by a dear friend, you showcase battered stickers that I meticulously applied to your glass, and a part of me circulates through your bloodstream. I have decorated you with passion and gratitude and have absorbed abundant memories through your windshield and lengthy sky roof—it has been a privilege to have you.

I get that you are elderly and are nearing 230,000 miles, but I just want to be able to drive with you and get to where I need to go. I’m not sure if I’ll be with you through college or not, but all I want is for these months ahead to be brimming with reliable, timely drives and to be able to coexist with you.

But now I’m writing this message to you twenty minutes before I have to drive you to the Subaru dealership, to remind you of the rocky ride we have been on. I don’t know the next time I will see you; maybe it will be a day or two, a week, or even two weeks. But when I do, I hope you are officially healed, and I pray that I can drive your trio of silver stars without trepidation. Maybe, we can even reach 300,000 miles someday.

Until then, I send you my best wishes.