"The Beginning contains The End." Tao Te Ching
Ok, now that it's gone, I can tell the truth. Why not admit what everyone knew? I never loved my last Prius. Oh yes, I was grateful every single day for that whopping 45 mpg gas mileage. And really glad for the road trips we took together to Los Angeles or Napa. And yes, impressed by a trunk big enough for blankets, flashlights, and yoga clothes to cover ten different apocalypses. My Capricorn liked that.
Plus I just felt lucky to even have a car period. Never take that freedom for granted.
But make no mistake. Love is different. This was never True Love.
In a way, she honestly didn't stand a chance. She followed one of the automotive Passions of My Life, Lola. (You can read about her here). I mean, this poor hybrid never even got a name.. except Prius.
Maybe it's because Lola was small, sporty, and sexy and The Prius was.. the exact opposite. She made me feel like a cross between a suburban soccer mom and a school bus driver. But more importantly, from the start, She Just Brought Trouble. Endless trouble. My own personal automotive Karma-inferno. Who knows what past life actions were erased by the travail of it all?
It started with The Pole in 2007, our first week together. I was pulling into my apartment's garage. Being used to Lola, I underestimated my width and immediately deeply dented the door on the garage opener pole. Five days and she was already in the shop. My fault, yes, but...
The shop guys did such a great, fast job, I bought them a 12-pack of beer in gratitude.
But one week later...unbelievable. Back to the same pole AGAIN. Same monster dent, same spot, round two. When I bashfully returned, the guy took one look and laughed. "No need for beer this time. We still haven't finished the last ones."
At least, even in our passionless union, the Prius behaved decently for the next couple years. But then... oh my god. The Power Button Era began.
And the catch was you never knew when or how these heart-racing interludes might occur. All part of the Mystery....
The Prius would simply, erratically and moodily, decide she wasn't ready to stop.
This first happened late one night in 2010. I pressed and pressed the off button for ten minutes to no avail. "Don't you tell ME it's time to go in the house," she seemed to grouse. "I'm still ready to rumble."
"Oh great," I thought to myself, "where the heck does one GO at 11 at night with a car that still wants to party? A moonlit drive to the beach? A local bar? The all-night drive-thru at Walgreen's for aspirin? The police department? (Excuse me officers, I know you're busy with murders and robberies and all, but could you babysit my car while I sleep for a bit?) Or could I maybe just leave her running in my garage? Oh my god..."
In the end, after pressing the power button approximately 370 times, she cooperated.
This repeated at least once a month. But each time I went to the dealer, nothing was found. "You sure you're pressing the off button?" they would ask helpfully.
This alternated (or even coincided) with the Dead Dashboard Dilemma. Suddenly, often in the middle of a road trip someplace like Santa Cruz or Calistoga, the entire dashboard would die. Just go black. Mahashunya, the void. No gas gauge, no speedometer, no nothin'.
Though I panicked the first time, soon enough I was unfazed. It always returned in many miles so I learned to keep a full tank of gas and a sense of absurdity. Thought Toyota might be able to market it as a good psychic development tool.
But the final straw came a few months ago with the Fateful Truck Kiss on Berkeley's University Avenue. I was parked a few feet from the crosswalk just talking on the phone. Suddenly a Ford truck came barrelling around the corner. Though its steel bumper barely grazed me, the lightest tap, I watched mesmerized as my entire front end came loudly smashing to the ground.
The truck showed not a scratch. The driver hardly knew anything had happened.
As I surveyed the steaming pile of damage and waited to be towed, I remember whispering to The Prius, sotto voce,
"Thank you, my friend, for all you've given me. I mean that. And I do wish I could have given you more of what you needed too. We both tried our best, I know, and wow, the Capricorn in me sure does hate to give up. We gave it a good six-year run. But oh my god darlin'...WE ARE SOOO DONE."
Relief flooded me.
I knew my next ride would arrive soon.
(For Part 2 of this story go here)