10. RIP, Ride

Photo Credit: Sizwe Hlatshwayo

No one warned me that it was very possible to fall in love with a possession. An inconsequential thing, a motor vehicle. And I was never into cars, a love for cars to me was part of a ritual in a masculine culture I wasn’t accepted into when I was growing up, so I never took cars as nothing but a means to move from one point to another. I never loved cars but here I am being messy, feigning normality as though I didn’t spend the last week close to tears under the warm embrace of Insomnia. All because of the thought that I might have lost it for good.

The decision to buy this car that I seem to have loved was very random. My previous car was involved in an accident and while it was being repaired, my insurance gave me the same one. I really liked its nine cup-holders. For someone who likes to drive long distances and who likes to drink while driving long distances and who likes to travel with people that like to drink* while travelling long distances I thought they were a convenience. When my previous car came back from repairs with more problems than when it went in, I decided it was time to sell it, It was old and run down when I had bought it anyways. The first car I thought of buying was the courtesy car I was driving while my jalopy was being repaired. I incurred a lot of unnecessary debt because I liked cup-holders, that’s how dumb and vain I was (still am?)

Photo Credit: Sizwe Hlatshwayo

I can say two months later on my first road trip with a friend was the first time I really loved my car. We were driving from Kriel to Durban, a 600 km trip. What was supposed to be a six hour trip ended up being nine because of construction along the N11 highway. That nine hours felt like bliss. The trip was comfortable that I used any excuse to make long trips after that. And many road trips with friends were done after that. Many road trips alone on my way to being messy in other provinces and in other cities and in other small towns and in other villages and so on and so forth. Almost all of my treasured memories in the last four years involve that car.

It wasn’t all bliss though. As a person who drives a lot and who has shitty luck, I’ve had to claim with my insurance many times. I was unfortunate enough to get caught in freakish hail storms three times. I was unfortunate enough to get involved in three collisions. I was beginning to cost my insurer money, I had to scream and fight to get them to approve my last two claims so in the early hours of the first of this month, on a foolish excursion to the Jo’burg CBD we had another collision, my worst one yet. I knew I was in for a nightmare. The car wasn’t driveable, it had to be towed to a panel-beater. Having been designed to give ample leg room for a hatch-back, there is hardly any space in the engine compartment. All engine components are cluttered together so a small bump damages more parts than usual. That’s the reason I think my car was written off even though the damage doesn’t look that bad. But there’s a small thought at the back of my head that the real reason it was written off was that I was costing them too much and they needed to keep it at their salvage yard while they look for ways to not pay me out (My claim is currently being investigated).

(As an aside: always remember to switch insurance once you’ve claimed more than four times, or else they’ll screw you, even the reputable ones like that one that does things‘your way’.)

In a year were things were dying (People, hopes, dreams, close friendships, three year old secret affairs, etc.), it is kinda poetic that a car that I hold dear would die along with them. Everybody keeps telling me how fortunate I am. How, in those four accident, I came out unscathed. I guess they are right but that doesn’t lessen this sharp sting I feel in my heart.

*Before I get into trouble, I drink non-alcoholic beverages while driving. Mostly water but sometimes coffee or soda. I can’t vouch for my passengers though /android wink emoji/