Imagine, if you can, what happens when an 85-year-old grammy goes overnight from driving a 30-year-old Oldsmobile Delta 88 to driving a 12-year-old Jeep Grand Cherokee! What a test of whether old dogs can learn new tricks. I have to say I wasn’t enthusiastic about the change-over. When I bought my Olds about ten years ago it was pristine and had led a very sheltered life. The body and upholstery were perfect. Actually, it had been advertised as a “cream puff,” and indeed it was. But after years of living outdoors and serving as a respite place for freezing pro-lifers, it had lost its lustre, both inside and out. And it needed its brake lines replaced. It was somewhat  dented and its pretty blue color was quite faded. Etc. etc. As my mechanic said, “It’s 30 years old, no matter how you look at it.”

Along came the opportunity to buy this Jeep from the friend of a friend – and I got talked into it. Especially since I have a steep driveway and live in the Northeast and the Jeep had four-wheel-drive. I didn’t want to go through the DMV registration process at all. I didn’t want to spend the money when I already had a car that would probably last the rest of my life. But the deed was done and I had to cope.

I quickly learned that there has been much progress in automotive engineering over twenty years. Wonder of wonder, the most remarkable thing about the new Jeep is that I had just to turn the ignition key and it started!! And started. And started again. No more pumping the accelerator until it “caught” and then keeping a foot on the gas until it would idle on its own. I loved my old Olds because it would always start for me, but I had to work at it. Another wonder. Windows that go up and down with the push of a button. Also a windshield wiper with a variety of speeds …. and a back windshield wiper. Plus the temperature on the ceiling and a direction indicator. And a functioning clock. I have this key that opens it from afar and will prompt it to call to me if I lose it in a parking lot (it wouldn’t be the first time.)

I hadn’t had the car a week when I left morning mass and discovered that my left rear wheel was flat – totally flat! After my son pumped it up for me and I drove it to the garage I learned that a “bead” was leaking. My car has beads?  Who knew?   It’s fixed now but I’m leery of a car with beads that behave like that!

It is interesting to watch the development of new habits to replace the old, to observe the learning curve. I’m sure there is a technique to clicking in my seatbelt on the first try but I’m still practicing. I discovered, the hard way, that I can’t remove the ignition key unless it is in “lock” position. Doesn’t make sense to me but that’s the way it is. Also I can’t shift into reverse unless I have my foot on the brake. My hands still sometimes looks for the shift apparatus on the steering column. My hand still sometimes reaches for the door handle in the wrong place. Yesterday I caught myself leaving the store and looking for my old blue Olds instead of my new burgundy Jeep.

Speaking of burgundy. The lady at the DMV told me their software doesn’t recognize “burgundy.” Did I want my car to be purple or red? “Purple,” I said. It’s a dark enough color to be mistaken for black at a distance.

I’m coping. I think I need a little cushion to put me up a bit higher. It has bells and whistles I haven’t dealt with yet. I’ve been so busy dealing with the necessities that I have yet to discover the secrets of the radio and CD player. But there is a CD player–another new plus! Because of the flat, I’ve discovered unknown storage places and seat-folding capabilities.

So – no more pumping the accelerator on a cold morning; no more cranking up the window at the ATM; no more coming out to a dead battery in the morning because I turned on the lights on a dreary day and left them on all night! My new vehicle complains loudly if I try to exit with the lights on! I’ve actually used the four-whee-drive to get up my driveway TWICE.

My Jeep and I haven’t yet been together two weeks. Please pray that I adjust well and we live happily together.  I think I’ll call it My Aubergine–I rather like the ring of that. Better than Burgundy or Purple, don’t you think?