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Lovin’ my ride

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, January 26, 2005

When I officially found out I would be returning to school this semester with a car I was stoked. My grandpa, no longer able to drive, very generously offered me his wheels and, never having owned my own vehicle before, a new sense of independence crept over me.No more would I have to phone Saint Mary’s security for a ride back to campus after a long night at The Observer office. Never again would I have to wait for a cab on a Friday night if I didn’t want to.I envisioned myself making efficient trips to the mall and to Meijer without the embarrassment of having to bum a ride off a friend. I saw myself cruising the streets of South Bend and Mishawaka, windows down, music pumping, a gentle breeze giving my hair that super cute tousled look.The fact that my newly acquired car, a white 1994 Chevrolet Lumina, is more suitable to be featured on MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” than found in a superstar’s garage on “Cribs” did not curb my excitement in the least.During the first week back at school, and on the first day of a new off-campus internship, I woke up early, dressed, grabbed my keys and headed for the parking lot.I arrived only to discover my car blanketed by three inches of snow and the doors all frozen shut. A security officer helped me pry the driver’s side open and then left me to scrape the windows.My technique must have been terrible because all the snow that I brushed off the car seemed to end up on me. My hands and feet, accustomed to the mild weather of California, were freezing within five minutes. And my hair, dampened by the falling snow and frizzed by my wool coat, resembled an ungroomed poodle.The disillusioning morning continued as I pulled out of the parking lot onto the white powdered road. Having driven for a couple of years in very heavy traffic, I rarely get fazed behind the wheel. This, however, was something completely different.I made my way down Douglas Road at a speed my grandpa would have approved of, 10 mph below the limit. My windshield wipers refused to cooperate, adding dirty wet streaks to an already fogged window. The snow covered the painted dividing lines so I suspect I drove right down the middle of two lanes. A couple of cars began to line up behind me, clearly impatient to pass me by. I just gripped the steering wheel all the tighter and proceeded to crawl along all the way to work.When I finally reached my destination, 10 minutes late, all of my car-owning fantasies had completely dissipated. I tossed my keys down on my desk with relief, albeit temporary, and wished I didn’t have to pick them up again until spring.