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Before I was of age to drive, I worked at a bus company "cleaning" the buses. I really learned to drive the buses (everything from 21 seater buses to full size city buses) including sliding them around in the snow for fun. I also drove the cars of the employees of the bus company and the surrounding businesses as they would pay us to wash their vehicles.

In high school, I learned to drive in a station wagon then had the pleasure of rebuilding a Triumph Spitfire.

In college I walked and used the bus for 3 years then bought a Dodge D50 pickup which was estimated to have a year’s life left in it. I made it last 5 years.

My first brand new vehicle was a 1995 (purchase date Nov 1994) Jeep Wrangler. It ran until a few weeks ago when the head gasket developed a horrid leak and it now sits in the driveway awaiting evaluation and repair. The engine may be beyond repair.

My wife’s first brand new vehicle was a 1995 Dodge Neon. It ran until a couple of weeks ago when it finally just died on the Interstate and was towed to the house. It is either a) a timing belt problem which is internal to the engine and makes the car scrap metal, b) a head gasket repair similar to the Jeep, or c) (hopefully!) a bad water pump.

We’ve been through other cars including an Aerostar, a red Ford thing that I cannot recall the name of, a motorcycle, and of course our current primary mode of transportation, a Dodge Grand Caravan.

Today, the Caravan decided it no longer wanted to shift gears. The diagnosis? A transmission rebuild and the family eats ramen noodles for the rest of the month.

A family of 7, with 6 people still at the house, 5 of driving age, 3 with licenses and a 4th taking his driving test today, goes from 3 cars to zero in a matter of weeks. Knoxville really needs better public transportation! And I need a full-time mechanic at the house!

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