More than ‘just a car’

It’s just a car, a friend said, when I mentioned how sad I felt trading my car for a new one.

Well, yes and no. It was, of course, just a car. And not one of those splashy kinds of cars that turn heads as it goes by.
No, it was just a gray, four-door sedan with a black interior, like lots of other cars.
But it was a car I really liked. It had a zippy, 6-cylinder engine that could snap your head back when you stepped down on the accelerator to pass another car.
It was so quick that I even started calling it “The Rocket” shortly after I drove it out of a dealer showroom in Greenville, S.C., in January 2003.
The Rocket had such a comfortable ride that it never seemed like it was moving fast, even when it was. It was in The Rocket that I got my one and only speeding ticket while driving across west Texas.
It had such comfortable seats that I never tired of driving it, even on long trips. And it consistently got 32 miles to a gallon of gas on the open road.
It took the family on several long trips to the Northeast, the Midwest and the Colorado Rockies. It was there in Pennsylvania for my daughter’s wedding, in Kansas City for my mother’s funeral, and back East to visit our grandchildren.
One of the things Jenny liked best about it was that she could read in the front seat. Every other car she’d ridden in made her sick to her stomach as soon as she turned a page or two. The Rocket let her read, do Sudoku puzzles, and grade lots and lots of school papers.
It was steady on the road through several snowstorms, lots of downpours and a year of weekend commuting back to Florence, Ala., before my wife and Joe made the move to New Albany.
I hadn’t always had such a strong feeling about my car. Before The Rocket, I had gone through a bunch of cars, usually leasing them for two or three years. That way I always was driving an almost-new car.
But a couple of years after we were married and my car lease came up, Jenny, who likes to drive a car until it drops, suggested I stop wasting money on leases and get a really-nice car to keep. That was The Rocket.
Earlier this year, I started hinting that it was time for me to get a new car. It all started when I saw the car carrier unload one of those GMC Terrains at the dealership next door to the Gazette.
It looked pretty snazzy.
I kept thinking something would go wrong with The Rocket. It never did. Finally, I told Jenny that the car was going to need new tires so maybe we should trade it.
She gave me that look (you know the one), but finally one day she said that if I really wanted one, she guessed it would be alright. Later that day she called me at work and jokingly asked if I had bought a car.
I had. Boy, was she surprised.
My new car is really nice, but it’s not The Rocket. I can look out my office window and see The Rocket on the car lot. It makes me sad.
It’s just sitting there, waiting for its next adventure.
I wish it many, many more.

T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at