Let’s take a look back at the best of our car stories, shall we? :
10. Circus clowns. Upon arriving in South Africa and not having enough money to buy a car, we rented what we could afford: A purple Ford Fiesta named Jasmine. All seven of us would cram in that thing, all folded over on top of each other. When we got out it was like crescent rolls in a Pillsbury can.
9. Grand Theft Auto. Four months into our life in South Africa we learned just how easy it is to have a car stolen. From the front of your house. While you’re home. In broad daylight. If you’re naive, like we were, you’ll leave a bunch of treasured possessions in the car too. Dude, Where’s My Car?!
8. The Swaggon. We loved our 1989 VW Microbus. Often mistaken for a taxi, we cruised through town with style, sometimes surfboards in tow. Sometimes it ran. We had the engine rebuilt… twice. It had no less than 17 major repairs. Still, even though she said she would stay loyal, she quit often. We have pushed her out of parking garages, up hills and through town. She was a moody one. However, one late night, Christina caught four guys trying to steal her, from right in front of our house. Unfortunately, they had already started dismantling the whatchamacallit, making it impossible to drive. After neighborhood watch caught the guys, Christina marched herself into the police station to identify the thieves but also to suggest that since they were doing nothing but sitting in jail, that they come repair the work they had done. The police refused. We had to pay for it. It broke down again shortly after that. We decided it was time to break off this co-dependent relationship.
7. The Phantom. We found this beauty for sale on a used car site from a nice Christian man we met before. Perfect! We mentioned it on social media and the next thing you know, there’s a gofundme and money is coming in faster than a televangelist during the hour of power. Friends and family are super excited for us and we are thrilled to have a car that seems so nice! It has been four long years of waiting and praying and enduring car problems. Finally, it’s over! Everything is awesome.
Until there was that dreadful noise….TWO DAYS LATER. Oh, the mechanic says, (our trusty mechanic) the engine needs to be rebuilt. He can do it but it requires a deposit, a large one. And then later he needs more money because he needs to rebuild the rebuild. Then the mechanic is crying in our living room because his life has no purpose.
Three months later we discover our car in his garage but he is nowhere to be found. The engine is there, in parts. All over the place like a neurotic jigsaw puzzle. The mechanic is nowhere. He just disappeared, like a phantom. We tried to file a police report for a stolen car. Fat chance said the officer. You gave him your keys. Well, when you put it that way…No money, no car. No hope for humanity.
6. We borrowed a friend’s van while they were in the US. Thieves broke the side window and stole a shoe. A child’s shoe. Not both shoes. One shoe-the left one to be exact. Amount owed: one window and a pair of shoes.
5. Borrowed a friend’s car… (When will we learn to NOT do this)? Hear a strange noise. Mechanic says the entire car is not roadworthy. Advises us to only drive if we are done with living. Odd business style but alright.
4. Borrowed a friend’s car…breaks down. Find a different mechanic. Should have had a clue when this mechanic doesn’t own a car of his own and must walk to our house everyday carrying his set of tools. R5500 worth of repair plus petrol expenses. Ours, not his.
3. Have pumpkin pie, will travel. Thanksgiving week. On our way to Thanksgiving dinner, the car slowly grinds to an involuntary halt. Pumpkin pies on our laps, we are forced to yet again call a friend to come pick us up from the side of the road. The car is towed and fixed. Or so we thought.
That same week…we are on our way to take all the kittens to the vet. Driving along a very busy road we hear a terrible noise. The car rumbles out of control and we pull over to the side to discover that metal shavings all over the road and the tire is shot. One of our friends, Marti, shows up to direct traffic away from Kevin who is sprawled underneath the car. The kittens are meowing. A tow truck driver arrives, another friend arrives for moral support. One drives by and honks, no doubt laughing at us. Marti is wearing an authoritative safety vest and scolds speeding taxis while standing guard over Kevin’s head. I guard the box of cats wishing I had pumpkin pie to eat right there on the curb.
2. Hello from the other side. This is way too long a story but it begins with us borrowing a friend’s van which breaks down in the middle of forsaken land in Illinois. The story culminates with a kindly man picking us up off the side of the interstate and taking all 7 of us to his house to stay until the van can be fixed which turns out to be 7 days. You really have to read it to believe it.
And the TOP CAR STORY is…Last week, my friend calls me all excited and mysterious like, talking of God-things. Their family is moving back to America from South Africa .
Over the phone, I hear, “We are giving you our car. We feel like that is what God wants us to do.”
They could have sold it and used the money for moving expenses or for anything, but they gave us their Toyota Condor which is in phenomenal condition and runs like a charm. It has air conditioning, a CD player, power windows and locks and most importantly, an alarm system, which I think God finds hilarious. It’s also made in this century, unlike any of our previous cars.
I often look outside to make sure it’s still in front of our house and I’m not dreaming.