My Auto-Biography: Betsy
One of the first cars I remember riding in as a kid was a 1995 Ford Explorer. I can even recall going with my dad to test drive the car before he purchased the grey SUV. At the time I was 5 years old. I had a good few years before I could get behind the wheel. I had a childish excitement about our family getting a brand new car. The coolest part to me was that the rear row of seats could fold flat. This was a function that I had not seen before. Even though I had excitement, it was not immediately obvious to me that I would someday be the driver of this car. In fact, that thought did not cross my mind until I was about 15.
8 years after my dad originally bought the Explorer, my brother Dave, who is 3 years older than me, got the opportunity to drive the car. My dad went out and got himself a new car so that my brother could drive to work and high school. During Dave’s time driving the Explorer, the car survived a small fender-bender and had the transmission replaced. It was around this time that we began to think of our Explorer as rugged and tough. It had made it through a plethora of challenges. When I began high school as a freshman I rode everyday with my brother to school, baseball practice, or basketball practice. There was a certain attachment we had with that car. We even named her “Betsy.” With giving our car a name we realized what our car meant to us. We did not love it because it was flashy and new, but because it was tough and had lasted in our family so long.
My brother would soon graduate, and I finally received my driver’s license. Betsy was solely mine to drive. She treated me well, and we shared some great times together, like getting out of snow banks, and nights at the drive-in. Betsy was a big part in my teenage life. Unlike public schools where friends may live just down the street, I went to a catholic high school so most of my friends were a half-hour drive away. This meant that I got to drive fairly often. I am not sure if it was the frequent use or simply the years that had worn on her, but during the summer after I graduated high school Betsy finally died. For 13 years Betsy gave our family some good miles, and I would still drive her today, but the repairs that were needed cost more than she was worth.
I have had 2 cars since that 1995 Ford Explorer. I have named both cars, but still I have not been as close with them as I was Betsy. Some people are skeptical of becoming attached with their vehicles, and do not name their cars. Maybe those people would call me crazy, but I think there is a bond between a person and his/her car. When functioning properly an automobile acts as an extension of a person’s body. After you have driven a car for a few years, the physical motions of driving become second nature, and you become accustomed to the location of the controls. It only takes sitting in the driver seat of a different car to realize this. In general, automobiles and people have been specially connected for years. For some it can be a love-hate relationship, but I have been fortunate enough to have Betsy.