Friday, January 15, 2010

UD Student Auto-Biography -- Ben Dapore: 1998 Buick Century and 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier

The first car that I ever owned was a dark maroon, blocky, 1998 Buick Century. Inherited through the untimely passing of my grandmother, I was more than thankful for the vehicle to take me everywhere that a young high school student needed to go. However, the car was the polar opposite of the ideal car for a teenage boy. Instead of rolling through the city with the top of a convertible popped down, blasting music, I got to cruise along at a steady speed. Let’s just say that Buick speakers aren’t exactly designed for blasting loud music. With an acceleration of 0-60 mph in roughly thirteen seconds, the car seemed as though it was determined to keep my wild teenage driving in check.

As time passed, I got another winner of a car – a 2002 Chevy Cavalier. This car added improved speed and gas mileage, without adding any sort of style or flair. However, I now needed a vehicle as a college student to go to the grocery store and buy the large supply of frozen dinners to fuel my daily life. Many memories were formed with that car, and many continue to be made, as I still drive it. What follows is one of the most memorable stories that were produced by riding in my go-to vehicle.

It was mid-October 2009 and fall break was just beginning. The leaves around campus were changing as fast as the relationships and daily lives of the students. Instead of packing up my belongings and driving the hour back home, my girlfriend, two friends, and I loaded up luggage into my car and began our road trip to New York City.

I have problems sleeping in vehicles, so I benefitted in being able to admire the scenery and fall foliage for the entire trip. The first sight of merit occurred in the Akron and Youngstown area. It was strange to see the rusty shells of factories that once housed powerhouses of American industry as I drove a symbol of the exact same industry struggle.

I-80 through northern Pennsylvania was empty and barren. Less than ten vehicles were seen throughout the entire time in the state. All were semis, carrying their load somewhere away from my vehicle and to where people actually lived. The lucky part of driving through such an empty area was that it was completely pitch dark, except for the luminescent cone produced by the headlights. This darkness allowed for a few stray meteors to be seen streaking through the night sky. This is the most vivid memory that I have of riding in any car.

Traffic became crazy about an hour away from NYC. This was roughly at the New Jersey border. Accidents were happening left and right as people cut around, becoming pillars of irony by trying to get to work faster than the people they were cutting off. Being from a small town of 2500 residents, more people existed on that stretch of interstate than I had probably ever met in my life. However, this ended when we pulled off at an exit for the technology that cars have seemingly replaced – trains. Boarding a train into the city from the small borough of Chatham, NJ allowed for all of the headaches caused by traffic to be alleviated.

Although none of the cars that I have ever owned are prestigious or stylish by any means, they have allowed me to travel to some of the most fun locations that I have ever travelled to. This has led me to believe that it isn’t necessarily the exterior of the car, or even under the hood which counts. Rather, it is the interior and the people within its seats that make the car as memorable as any other “dream” car. Although this is true, I am pretty sure the trip would have been more exciting in a Porsche or Lamborghini.

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