Tis’ the season of giving. And now I shall give the gift of a story about … giving.
The car and the grill bit the dust around same time. Their deaths in no way correlated, but their fates would soon intertwine because of impulse decisions made by my mother and her now-fiancé, Eddie.
It was a green, propane powered grill that went well beyond the call of duty in terms of its utility. Many a delicious meals were cooked inside the belly of this triumphant appliance. Unfortunately several of the grill’s metal components cracked. Luckily, most of the grill was still in operating order. Upon contacting the manufacturer, my mother discovered that the broken parts were under a lifetime warranty and, just like that, the company shipped out the replacements.
On a Saturday, my mother and Eddie tinkered away and repaired the grill. The result: a perfectly refurbished grill, deliciously juicy chicken breasts, and a 60 pound hunk of iron. My mother found herself in the midst of a conundrum: whatever would she do with the broken part? She has always been a stickler for a rules, a characteristic I most definitely inherited from her. So, she rejected Eddie’s idea of just ditching the metal in a clandestine dumpster.
I must admit that I carry a bias towards Japanese cars. I admire their reliability, affordability, and longevity. That’s why I was nothing short of shocked when the 2000 Acura sedan died. At 16 years of age it only had 50,000 miles and looked almost new. The previous owner, my grandmother, hardly drove it. She decided to give the Acura to my little brother when his now-ex-girlfriend totaled his beautiful 1996 4Runner. Such a shame.
Then, the Acura spontaneously died. As it turns out, it had a factory recall for the engine that was overlooked because no one ever drove it. The value of the vehicle was essentially no more than its own scrap.
My mother, being the good-hearted, goodie-two-shoes, liberal she is, decided her only option was to donate the car to NPR’s member station in Atlanta, WABE. NPR was essentially the soundtrack to my childhood and my mother loved to support the organization in any way she could. In this case it was through their car donation program. So, she organized a pickup for the Sunday after she and Eddie fixed the grill.
At that moment Eddie offered a proposition to my mother: why not load the hunk of iron scrap from the grill and load it into the trunk of the Acura. From his point of view, we were giving them a car, they could handle a little junk in the trunk, literally. My mother was not amused. To her, the idea was so corrupt. She would not be part of this. It took Eddie, me, and my two brothers to convince her that everything would be alright.
And it was. NPR picked up the car and, unbeknownst to them, the hunk of broken grill before driving off into the sunset.