Dear Saab 900 Turbo,
I first noticed your kind when I was about 9 years old. I was attracted to your unique body shape, your “different” look, your intense demeanor. When I finally turned 16, I could only afford a used Chevy. Still, I dreamed of you. Each time I had to replace my car, you were “impractical,” too expensive, not available. Finally, twelve years later, you were mine.
I flew out to Denver to pick you up. I cried on the way back to the hotel, and squealed with joy at the echo of your turbo engine’s growl as I made my way up the parking garage ramp. I bought you a sticker and a crystal lotus flower to hang from your mirror. I was in love.
The relationship was rocky at first. On the way home, you broke down in a town called Colby, Kansas. I had to search for days for someone who could fix you. I got back on the road, another $900 poorer, only to have you die again after about 40 miles. Back at the shop, they told me you needed a new fuel filter as they cleaned out your old one. They told me you would need a “special diet” of 93 octane gas in order to run well. I didn’t care. I was finally with my Saab.
When I got home, I only had you a month before someone decided to break your windows and rip out your dashboard, all in order to steal a cheap Alpine CD player. I found you a new dashboard on eBay, paid someone $800 to re-wire everything, and never replaced the radio out of fear that someone would break your windows again. For months, I sat in the garage at night, guarding you fiercely.
Over the years, you’ve taken me many places, broken several times, seen much abuse. You’ve gotten a new clutch, a new brake system, a new radiator, new belts and hoses and other small parts that add up. I’ve spent over twice as much repairing you as I did buying you. You’ve been scraped, hit, dented, nicked. You’ve taken me to a dog funeral, my dad’s funeral, my new jobs, scary court dates. You’ve accompanied me on quests to find old friends and new shoes. You’ve started many conversations and have always been a source of pride.
Saab, lately you’ve been acting like you don’t feel well. I know you are old. You are dented and dirty, and your headliner sags so badly I can’t see out the rearview mirror. I know that your speedometer doesn’t work, so I have to be careful not to speed and get a ticket. Your gas gauge doesn’t work, so I have to make sure I know how far I’ve driven every day; your odometer doesn’t work, so I have to map out the distance for every tiny trip I take so that I can monitor the gas tank. You used to get about 400 miles on an 18-gallon tank. Now, it seems that you only get about 18 miles per gallon (of 93 octane gas). In the summer, you overheat if I don’t turn your heat on full blast. (Today, someone asked me if it was raining outside. Nope, just sweating from my hot car.) You make a sound like an aging dinosaur, and sometimes you won’t start.
It doesn’t matter, though. I love you, Saab. I don’t care if you don’t shine, if you have dents, if you make funny noises and act a bit lazy sometimes. It’s okay. I don’t always want to smile, I don’t always feel like getting up in the morning, and sometimes I’m unshowered, too.
Today, you started dying in the road. In the road. On the highway. The first time, an SUV almost rear-ended me, narrowly missing by swerving at the last minute. When I got you moving again, I moved into the far right lane, ready to exit, ready to take side roads. You died again, but this time, I made it on to the shoulder. I thought we were safe. When the 18-wheel truck sped by so closely that we rocked side-to-side and I was sure that your mirror was going to go flying, I started to cry.
Saab, I think it’s time to say goodbye.
Just think. You will no longer have to deal with me screaming and hitting your steering wheel in traffic or in crazy parking lots. You will no longer deal with the start-stop city drives I take almost every single day. You will never again have to feel the cold trickle of a spilled green smoothie on your upholstery, and never again have to carry around a sweaty, stinky yoga mat. Maybe someone who loves Saabs even more than I do (and has a lot more money) will fix you up. Maybe you will be taken apart to save other sick Saabs.
In the next few days, I’m going to do my best to find a way to get a car that will reliably take me to my jobs, will not cost more in gas than my monthly rent, that will not stall on highways nearly leading to a messy end for both of us. Then, Saab, I will try my best to find you a new home. A good home.
You were my Saab for five years. I’ve never had the same car for that long. Thank you, Saab, for those years. It’s hard, but I think it’s time to say goodbye.