On Friday I’m sending my first car into the sunset to be crunched, and I’m simply heartbroken about it. A friend said that I’m permitted to feel feelings because the little lady connects me to many, many things, so here’s Yoshi the Yaris’ story. No one else cares, so I’m the posting the eulogy here.
A coworker recently asked, “How do you still have your FIRST CAR? HOW?” At work, they gave me a 10% raise on January 1 in hopes that I’d buy something “nicer, eventually,” (while chuckling).
My family was not well-off growing up, and they set the guidelines that I would not own a vehicle until I could buy it outright myself. My teens were spent diligently saving and using alternate transit. After graduation in 2005, my grandfather decided I would be his last “teaching a relative how to drive,” project, and after seven failed attempts I finally secured a license. He was a stubborn Scot: his first rule of the road was “The paint on the pavement is merely a suggestion.” Needless to say the examiner wasn’t impressed, and it took a while for me to learn the actual legal rules and pass the road test.
One of my extended family members told me once that with tax, cars were “Like, $25-30,000!” and that was my baseline savings goal because I didn’t know any better. My grandfather knew I had been saving since around thirteen, and sweet talked his “girlfriend” at the bank where I had my savings account (another senior) into telling her how much I had saved (and what I spent my money on for fun so he could chide me later).
One weekend he asked me to tag along with him to Home Depot and help him load soil for his garden, and then we went for a drive. He ended up dropping me off at a Toyota dealership 2-hours from home, yelling (which I’m sure was hard for him), “Buy a damn car and drive yourself home. Faye said you have plenty of money! And don’t come home unless you negotiate the price they tell you!” He drove off.
Was in complete shell shock. Wandered the lot, and when a salesman approached, I informed him that I wanted “the cutest, least expensive, and smallest thing you have, please.”
My car was still on the freight truck, I saw it across the lot while disappointedly looking at some Camry and Scion models. It was love at first sight, and I inherently knew from how teeny it was, it wouldn’t be too expensive.
“That one. Silver, not the blue.”
I bought it without a test drive, and also learned you couldn’t pay $14,020.87USD with a debit card that day, calling Faye at the bank to figure out a way to wire the money immediately. I had to wait in the dealership for several hours while the manager confirmed. By dealership closing, I had the keys.
I’ll never forget pulling up into the driveway after a long scenic summer drive back blaring music—my entire family was waiting on the sun porch to see what I chose. My grandmother was shouting “IT IS SO CUTE,” and my grandfather just shook his head, and said, “It is awfully small. You’ll either die in it, or it will save your life because of maneuverability. How much did you negotiate it down?” (…)
In fourteen years, it has had 40 oil changes, three new sets of tires and batteries, several belts and air filters…and that’s it. I’ve driven it coast to coast (New York to San Diego and everywhere in between) seven times without cruise control, and no bells and whistles. Last year when Toyota told me it was worth about $400 on trade-in, I started working on fluids myself and basic repairs myself. Nothing to lose, right? Learned a lot about vehicles from other Yaris enthusiasts via YouTube university. Owe them a debt. Thanks for loving tiny cars, too.
Many life changes have come to this moment after fourteen years; my vision and hearing are progressively worsening from a nerve degeneration disorder, and my commute is a 51-second walk currently. I am pulling myself off the road unless the doctors figure out a solution in the future, so I don’t hurt anyone.
From 000003 miles on the odometer to hundreds of thousands, my Yaris was the second-most reliable thing in my entire life (so far), and I’m laying here in bed, a grown woman, balling my eyes out over a 3-door hatchback, and going to be late to work because I’m a mess, and needed to tap this out on my phone.
Tl;dr—Yoshi the Yaris and I have been through a lot together, over many years and miles, and by late Friday afternoon, she’ll be recycled.
I need a drink, and it’s only 8:34am.