When I was perhaps eight years old I received a wind-up toy car from Santa Claus. I remember it well. It was a silver coloured German-made racing car with a white rubber bumper. I spent Christmas morning propelling it about the smooth kitchen floor. When I wasn’t playing with it, I put it on a shelf for protection and admiration. Though I can’t imagine the model car initiated my subsequent interest in real cars there were characteristics of the toy car which match the qualities I like about the real things. I hesitate to say German engineering because I have only ever owned domestically manufactured automobiles; but the German tradition of creative superiority is an indisputable hallmark. Another is the sense of solidity and weight. Simplistic design is another. And overall stability. In sum, the feature of reliability was and is manifest.
Before I retired from the practice of law – that is, before I had time to devote myself to my private amusements – I routinely drove my car from Almonte to Stittsville for a car wash at the Petro-Canada gas station on the corner of Hazeldean Road and Carp Road. I went at four o’clock in the morning. Not only did I thereby avoid colliding with my professional avocation; I also avoided colliding with other cars because naturally there wasn’t much traffic. Only once did I encounter someone ahead of me at the car wash – an event which I considered an inexcusable affront to my régime!
Today I re-enacted that erstwhile custom. If you’re wondering why I troubled to get on the road so early – actually it was closer to 3:00 am – it was for two reasons. One, I had slept enough. I was just tossing and turning in bed, thinking about this and that and nothing at all. Two, I knew we were in for snow later in the day. I had a limited opening to wash my car and to relish the distinction on dry roads. So out I went!
I began the drive along the Appleton Side Road. In the summer this route can be perilous if undertaken at dawn when the deer have a habit of crossing the road, always at the same junctures. Accordingly I am extra-cautious and for that reason in particular have learned to make a point of observing the 80km/hr speed limit. Though I didn’t expect to see deer at four o’clock this morning – about three hours before sunrise – old habits, etc.
When I reached Carleton Place the primary intersection was at the new 4-lane highway into the City. Already some traffic was materializing but only two or three cars passed me before I reached Stittsville. This differed from what subsequently transpired after the car wash as I headed east along Highway #417 towards Renfrew County. By then there was a small parade of transport trucks betraying their understandable ambition to beat the commuters. I was followed by one car for miles as he approached me by degrees and at last passed me. There was a another car with flashing lights parked alongside the road for no evident reason.
Aside from these “interruptions” the drive was devoted to a complacent though controlled enjoyment of the outing and a collateral assessment of the numerous features of the vehicle, including overall road sound, automatic high beams, wheel alignment and steady direction, channel hopping on the radio (and listening to the latest views about Trump’s anticipated evaporation), the massage feature and the Bluetooth connection to my iPhone for a classical music playlist (an extraordinary collection of 111 Mozart masterpieces by Menuetto Classics).
The affection for a car is one which like an honest relationship normally augments over time. Gradually one becomes conditioned to the mechanical eccentricities (they’re inescapable no matter what) and eventually fully connected. It is not uncommon to hear people speak of their vehicles with human endearment. It is a less than commendable affiliation and one which most would be reluctant to advertise. But it’s there.