Tribute to the Cavalier

I participate in my local Toastmaster’s club. Toastmasters is an international organization that helps people develop speaking and leadership skills. Here is the latest speech I gave, shortly after I bought my new car.


Recently, I bought a new car and while this is a good thing, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad in saying goodbye to my old car. And so, here is a tribute to the Cavalier.

I was so young and naïve when we first met. I was only 21 years old and had little experience making financial decisions, much less in the art of negotiation. After a few awkward visits to dealerships to test drive cars, I asked my Dad to help me.

I decided I wanted you pretty quickly. The price was right, and I liked how you looked, with your shiny alloy wheels and sparkling forest green paint. The fact that you came with a moon roof pretty much sealed the deal for me. Your cute coupe body, with the little spoiler on the back seemed young and sporty and cool. I would later lament your lack of back doors, and the absolute enormity of your front doors, which made climbing in and out nearly impossible at times.

Despite some of those minor complaints, I think that you and I had a good long run. We were together nearly 13 years. And what a difference that time has made.

In the course of 13 years I have lost friends and loved ones, and made many new friendships along the way. Your passenger seat held many special people in my life, from former boyfriends to the current boyfriend, all of my family members and nearly every friend I’ve had. You’ve even put up with a few dogs and cats scratching up your seats over the years!

Together, we drove far and wide. Early on, we took some lengthy trips – the longest being a trek up to Niagara Falls (the Canadian side). We also drove up to Maine and through New Hampshire. We visited Cape Cod, and of course innumerable trips to Vermont. You even climbed Mt. Washington! We took a few trips down south too – to visit Gram in New Jersey, and even to the Jersey shore.

Of course we shared lots of less exciting times together, like the all years of commuting to and from UConn, where crumbs collected around your driver’s seat from all the times I ate breakfast on the way. We’ve endured many a traffic jam together, and you really impressed me with your ability to forge through snowy, icy weather, even as I clutched at your steering wheel with white knuckles.

I’ve worked at multiple jobs, all of which you sat patiently through all kinds of weather until I emerged from the building at the end of the day. Seeing your familiar shape in the parking lot was like seeing a friend waiting for me. I could relax once I was in the seat with the door closed and my music playing.

You patiently tolerated my mood swings. Your steering wheel withstood blows from my fists during moments of anger or frustration, and your windows remained intact despite my loud, off-key singing in moments of happiness.

You did not make it through 13 years unscathed. I scraped your rims against curbs while attempting to parallel park in many a city. The lower part of your front bumper was scuffed and eventually cracked and broken, thanks to repeatedly being parked to close to the curb. There were plenty of scratches and small dents from other car doors and grocery carts in parking lots.

Towards the end, your paint job really showed it’s age. I sometimes joked that you had eczema because of the dull, white circular patches that covered your hood and roof.

Once, we lost control while driving on a snowy road and rammed headfirst into a guard rail. I tensed myself and waited for the airbag to inflate in front of me, but it didn’t. Instead, we came to a stop and I pulled to the side of the road to inspect the damage. There was a slight dent, and one headlight had popped out, but otherwise we were unscathed. Or so I thought. The next weekend, you overheated while I was driving home from a weekend in Vermont. I later found out that you had a cracked cylinder head.

Normally that would be a death sentence for a car, and it was then that I first seriously considered saying goodbye. But I wasn’t ready to part with you just yet. Instead, I paid the mechanic a lot of money to fix your engine, and soon you were up and running again. You ran nearly perfectly for the next 5 years. Of course there were occasional issues and repairs, but nothing that broke the bank.

In the end, you had over 160,000 miles on your odometer. The CD player no longer functioned, thanks to my drink spilling into it the day we hit the guardrail. The lower edge of the driver’s side was terribly rusted, due to a careless moment when I scraped you against something and wore your paint right off.

Despite all of that, your seats were comfortably worn, and the various stickers in your windows were reminders of places I’d been and experienced I’d had. You fit me like a glove, and were as familiar as a family member.

You taught me many lessons, such as that I should be more diligent about cleaning the road salt and snow from a car so that the bottom doesn’t rust out, and that routine maintenance and preventative care will keep a car happy for a very long time.

And so, as I drove away from the dealership in my new car, I glanced over at your familiar form sitting alone in the customer parking area. I know that most likely you will be sold to a junkyard, where you will be taken apart piece by piece, or worse yet, crushed into a giant cube of metal and plastic and sent to a recycler.

Of course I don’t like to think about that. What I will think about is all the good times I had with you, and how you gave me the best years of your life and more. If you could speak, I hope you would agree that our time together was well spent and that we’d had a good long run together.


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