As I mentioned before, my hatchback was a great model for a field/life car – it was quick, relatively cheap, fit a bunch of stuff, could fit into most any parking space/make excellent u-turns, and had terrific mileage. But after close to 15 years and 200,000 miles of trouble-free use, it had started to become Unreliable. Various systems started to go, state inspections had started to become hairy, and the rust from years of fieldwork and driving around East Coast Big City had started to become unsightly and, um, structural.
When I had first started out in environmental consulting, I was a traditional young staff scientist. I spent all my time on the road, working 60-plus hours and coming home to do laundry and decompress. I had no food expenses during the week, and I didn’t have the time or inclination to go shopping when I got home. After a few years, my original car (a family legacy that I was told later wasn’t expected to last 6 months) died of rust everywhere/major system collapse and I was able to buy that hatchback: the first big “adult” purchase that was new and all mine. I named it immediately: Jane.*
Jane took me to field sites all over the region, made the long haul back and forth when my sweetie and I were separated during grad school, went off-roading to get to hiking trails and interesting vistas, and survived the daily commuting grind in two separate metropolitan areas not known for, um, easy going drivers. Thanks to my precision driving and a healthy dose of luck, Jane survived with no more damage than the occasional door ding and a mangled license plate from when someone rolled backward into me in traffic (it was that sort of commute).
So, it was a bittersweet moment when I turned Jane in. But then, I got the keys to a faster, more gas-efficient, and way more technologically advanced hatchback! Future adventures await with Jane II.**
*not the car’s real name, which was both distinctive and in the same language as the manufacturer.
**Also not the car's real name.