Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Look at All Those Zeros

My car hit 100,000 miles last night.

It had been approaching this milestone for a while now, as I drove back and forth to Mid-Range Campus, and even just the usual day in and day out running around that one does added far more miles than I would have ever thought possible if I weren’t already used to it.  I am consistently amazed at how much I drive just to run errands around town.  Sometimes I think that all I really need out of life is a comfortable mattress and a decent car, as I spend about half my time in one or the other of those places.

Last night was another one of those Performing Arts things that I supervise – a talk given by one of the Home Campus faculty members on the subject of Alfred Hitchcock, whose movies I have mostly never seen.  The only Hitchcock movie I’ve ever watched all the way through was The Birds, which I saw when I was about 8 over at my friend Nick’s house one Saturday afternoon.  It made an impression, let me tell you.  I’ve seen bits and pieces of Psycho, and I inherited from my grandmother a book of creepy short stories that was put out in the late 1960s under Hitchcock’s label (“The kind of rock Alfie digs always has a death date on it!”).  He wrote an introduction to it, and his picture is painted on the cover.  He’s riding a motorcycle with a gravestone in the sidecar, in case you didn’t catch the tagline the first time. 

The Sixties: you had to be there.

But as far as the movies go there is a reason why I was once described as “cinematically illiterate” and that reason is still valid.

I don’t have to do a whole lot for these talks – I show up early, straighten out the room, get the signs up so people know where to go, and then greet people when they come.  I also give a half-minute introduction letting people know what other things we’re doing, and then I sit back and enjoy.  Then I lock up when it’s over.  It was a nice talk, and I learned a few things.  So it was an evening well spent that way.

The odometer turned over just as I hit the driveway to Home Campus on the way in.  I got to watch it flip over, although that was kind of anticlimactic.  So many things are these days.  The digital odometers in the new cars change instantly rather than slowly rolling over the way the old analogue ones used to do – “Look, kids!  There go the 9s and here come the 0s!” – and they have a slot there for the 1 so it ends up saying “100,000” rather than “00000” like the old ones.  It’s not the fresh start that it once was.  Still, there you go.  Kind of cool anyway.

I don’t remember what we did when the station wagon hit that milestone a few years back.  I’m sure we did something, if nothing more than just saying, “Huh, there it goes.”  You can’t let that sort of thing pass completely unnoticed, after all.

The only one of these rollovers I recall clearly was the one in the 1964 Chevy that we got from my grandparents when I was a kid.  That was an ocean liner of a vehicle, with bench seats that could hold an entire baseball team and room for several concession stands in the trunk.  It was metallic turquoise and did not need a key to start – you just twisted the flanges surrounding the keyhole and it fired right up.  It was a great car for a family.

When it got right up on 100,000 miles we all piled into it and drove around until the 9s disappeared and the 0s took their place.

Things felt different somehow, after that.

I’m not really sure what’s going to happen now with my car.  New cars are much better engineered than they used to be so hitting this milestone is expected rather than surprising now.  And it should last about that long again, if all goes well.  So for all the 0s and talk of milestones, it’s pretty much just another day.

But with more zeros.


John the Scientist said...

I watched this happen twice in the car I learned to drive in. We put 365,000 miles on that car before we sold it, and AFAIK is still running under antique plates.

It was a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 drop top, and was as long as a F150. Just a joy to parallel park, let me tell you. But that experience did train me to park in really tight spaces (ALL spaces were tight for that monster). That came in handy last month with a VW Phaeton (about the size of a Volvo S80) in the medieval streets of Germany.

David said...

That's a lot of miles. Last I heard the old 64 Malibu was still running as well, though that was a long time ago.

I learned to parallel park on a 73 Pontiac - another car that could double as a studio apartment, though it could turn on a dime. To this day I hate parallel parking.

If you can moose around anything bigger than a Mini Cooper on European roads, you're doing well.

Dr. Phil (Physics) said...

We had a two-tone blue 4-door 1964 Malubu Chevelle, 307 engine. Wonderful car. But my dad got a new car every four year in those days.

Dr. Phil