I’m convinced that cars have personalities—not the cute, cartoonish ones seen in movies like “The Love Bug” or “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Rather, I think that they take on lives of their own in subtler ways. My old truck is proof of this phenomenon.
It was my first vehicle, inherited from my parents when I turned 16. Her name was Adele, given to the truck by its original owners. She was a maroon 1995 Chevy Silverado with a short box and flare-side bed, which always made her look like a miniature hot-rod. My dad had originally purchased Adele from a former police chief just outside of Omaha. When we went to pick it up, I can remember him reluctantly passing us the keys. “Take good care of old Addy for me,” he said. “She took good care of me.”
Prior to her coming to my family, Adele had sat for a long time out on her previous owner’s farm. I’m convinced she was struck by lightning at some point during her storage, judging by the numerous quirky electrical problems that never seemed to go away.
Shortly after we took ownership of her, my dad added chrome running boards and roll bars and upgraded her exhaust package, installing twin Edelbrock chrome tips, which gave her 350 V8 a low, throaty rumble. Adding to her appeal, she had a five-speed manual transmission, and with tons of low-end torque she could be a real blast to drive. Looking back, I really lucked out getting Adele. She was easy to drive, not too expensive to maintain and relatively safe. Sure she wasn’t brand new, but she had a distinct personality all her own.
Despite her fierce, hot-rod exterior, Adele actually had an easy-going personality. Between my mom, dad and I, she always liked me best. She’d always start right up when I was behind the wheel and never “hid” any gears when I was accelerating. It seemed like almost every time my mom or dad wanted to use Adele she’d put up a fight, making it hard to locate reverse or first gear, the transmission chattering nastily and reminding them that they hadn’t shifted correctly.
Adele and I had a special connection. She always seemed to know my mood, and she’d do her best to cheer me up when things weren’t going well. If it was a tough day, she’d always go the extra mile. When I was in a hurry, she’d have all the low-end power I’d need to get onto the interstate, and if I wasn’t, she’d be sluggish to start and try to stall almost every intersection to prolong our journey.
She always hated cold weather, but after an encouraging word or two, her slow starter motor would spin to life, and we’d be on our way. I’ll always remember on my birthday her aged air-conditioning system would always blast cold air right away, instead of the typical moist and bad smelling lukewarm breeze.
However, all things must come to an end. Saying goodbye to her was really hard. She was my first car, and I’d learned the rules of the road behind her calm and patient wheel. However, in the end, rising gas prices and costly upgrades and repairs did her in. We traded her in just before I headed to Concordia, and handing over the keys I felt as though I was betraying a close friend. Even more upsetting was discovering that shortly after we sold her, the dealer decided that her parts were move valuable, ending Adele’s life in the hellish fire of the scrapper’s yard. I was told that her engine was in high demand and went to the state of Nebraska to power a police interceptor. The words only worked to rub salt into the open wound.
It’s funny to look back. Adele, after all, was only a truck: a compilation of metal, synthetic cloth and various fluids. However, like many of you out there, I can attest that she was something much more. She was always the friend I could count on, providing a kindly ear to my concerns. Perhaps that, if anything, is the greatest thing I can take of my memories with Adele. I learned the importance of having someone to be there, and that it’s okay to find someone to lean on during the tough and fun times of life. In all of the moments we shared Adele never said anything back to me. Instead she provided that much-needed listening ear (metaphorically, of course). Often, it seems like that is all that we need. Someone who will just listen, helping us figure things out in the end.