I’ve never been a big fan of work, in general. While there should be nothing surprising about that, what might surprise you is the fact that every weekday morning on my way out the door I can’t help but crack a bemused smile. Why, you ask? It’s simple, really. Typically, on such a morning, I’m on the way out to get in my 1988 Volkswagen Jetta. For some reason, setting foot in that car is tremendously amusing to me.

Call it karma. Call it farfignugen. Call it what you will. But it’s ironic that the fundamental pleasure I enjoy from the Jetta should be so hard to explain. I bought the car about two years ago from G’s dad, Mr. K (yes, they’re a family of initials). I needed an affordable ride to get me from A (home) to B (work) to C (school) to D (numerous road trip destinations) and the Jetta seemed as good a candidate as any.

There is nothing fancy about my car. In part, I think that’s why I appreciate it so much; I admire its honest simplicity. It likely would not strike you as anything special as it passed you (and it WOULD pass you) on the freeway but, then again, I find the complete absence of a car payment every month pretty special. This way, what might normally be contributed to a car payment can instead go toward paying down my “better part of a decade” run at OU. Besides, cruising along the interstate at 80 mph, I’ve often thought that if I had a “nicer” car I’d still be doing the exact same thing: cruising along the interstate at 80 mph.

Practically speaking, the Jetta is a great car to own; parts are cheap and it’s easy to work on. On a metaphysical level, I suspect that my admiration for the little guy stems from the fact it demonstrates values held dear in this world: hard work and loyalty. Each time I get in and turn the key, it starts instantly and purrs along until I reach my destination. It has endeared itself to me but for no other reason than every time I shut it off, it makes a sound as if sputtering its last fume, exhausted by just having made it. But sure enough, when I turn that key again, it’s ready for one more go. Granted, it does demand a bit more T.L.C. than a newer car and once a month I do have to make the quart-erly sacrifice of oil; but for a car getting 38 mpg, I manage to look past that. And if the Jetta hadn’t earned my respect before, it definitely won me over last November after effortlessly delivering me to and fro New Mexico during a spontaneous road trip; a total of 3400 miles in 72 hours. All doubts were cast aside; this car had heart.

And so the Jetta has driven its way into legend amongst friends and family. My dad was laughing when I drove it home for the first time that hot August day. Two years and 50,000 miles later, he’s not laughing anymore. Even he has to begrudgingly acknowledge the tenacity residing within that little beast. These days it’s not uncommon for people to show more interest in the Jetta’s well-being than mine. And in issuing a response to such inquiries, it’s quite possible my words would echo my standard reply to the Jetta’s previous owner whenever he asks:

“Livin’ the dream, Mr. K…I’m livin’ the dream.”

(“And no, you can’t have it back.”)

The Jetta