The Trials and Tribulations of Oliver


Photo By: Kathryn Coffey

Kathryn Coffey

Once again, Oliver the plucky car takes the spotlight. The last time this car was featured, it was running smoothly, apart from its CD player. This time around, a lot has changed.

It all started last Sept. in 2018. On a rainy morning, I had to go to CVS for Ziploc bags. When I got back to the car, I put the keys in the ignition, expecting Oliver to turn on like he normally did.

He did not.

I frantically called my roommate, who came five to ten minutes later with jumper cables in tow. Although her car was old, and there was no chance of it getting Oliver up and running again, the impossible happened. Oliver somehow started up again, and I could drive back to the safety of my apartment.   

Later that day, Oliver wouldn’t turn on. My roommate tried to jump him back to life again, but this time, it was met with little success. After a brief chat with AARP, a tow truck arrived at the Woods parking lot. While he was successfully jumping Oliver, the driver noticed my car’s battery. 

It turned out that Oliver was a dead car driving. His battery needed to be replaced immediately, and whatever I did, I was told not to turn him off again, at least not until I got to O’Reilly Auto Parts. Once all that was sorted, I figured it would have been nice to go without car drama for a while.

I should’ve realized the fun was just getting started.

A couple months later, I was driving back to my apartment from Walgreens. As I got to the light where Main St. crosses Fairview Ave., I noticed a light shine on Oliver’s dashboard.

At the time, it could only mean one thing: imminent death.

My dad gave me a mechanic’s number to call. I was able to get it in a local auto shop that week. After an examination, the mechanic discovered Oliver’s alternator needed to be replaced. Apparently, when a car’s alternator’s busted, it can cause lights on the dashboard to go off.

After all that, I thought that was going to be it. Oliver had gone through summers without even a breakdown. For a car his age, he was still reliable. He even survived the Polar Vortex. So, I figured, what more can the school year possibly throw at my car?  

I couldn’t have ever imagined the horror that would come next.

It was May. I was going to run an errand in the pouring rain. I came to a halt as the light turned red. Suddenly, I felt a huge jerk as I heard a crashing sound. For a while, life just froze. Oliver was still drivable, but emotionally, I felt as loose and battered as Oliver’s rear bumper.

I got in my first car accident.

The guy that hit me and I pulled over to Our Lady of Lourdes’ parking lot to wait for the cops. In the meantime, I rested my hand on Oliver’s dashboard to comfort myself and him for the ordeal we had just gone through. It was embarrassing for both of us to be in an accident, but as life proved, it was going to get worse from there.

After giving my testimony to the cop, I decided to drive back to the Woods. Though Oliver’s rear bumper was hanging by a thread, the drive back still felt strangely normal. I didn’t hear much traction, so I thought I was being careful enough. Then I parked in the Woods’ lot.

To my horror, I realized a vital piece of Oliver was missing: the rear bumper.

I decided to physically retrace my steps to see if I could get the bumper back. My dad would’ve killed me if I didn’t find it. The auto repair guy would need a bumper to glue back on Oliver, and rear bumpers don’t grow on trees.  

In my frantic search, I got a call from Decatur’s Police Department. They had found Oliver’s bumper, and they wanted to give it back.

Shortly thereafter, I drove Oliver to get fixed, and I didn’t have a car for the rest of the year. By the time move-out day came (when Oliver was finally ready to go out on the road again), I was ready. I didn’t care if I could get in another accident; I was just happy to get my car back.    

On Memorial Day, there was something I never thought I’d see in my life: my street became a lake. What’s more, Oliver was trapped on the curb with little to no way out. The water made his carpets moldy and soggy. The wet cherry to top the crap sundae.  

But now, Oliver is as fit as he’ll ever get for an eighteen-year-old car that’s been through a crap-ton of drama. He’s got new carpets, and even the CD player works from time to time. Although, recently he’s developed a buzz-hum kind of noise, even when the radio’s not turned on. And his brakes are sounding a little cranky. It hasn’t been anything serious…yet.  

Still, with my fingers crossed, Oliver will always be ready for what’s ahead.