My Buick: A Post-Sandy Parable

Jim Motavalli

Jim Motavalli | Nov 01, 2012

I inherited a 1999 Buick Regal from my father-in-law. Not my father’s Oldsmobile, but close. When I drove the thing to the local drive-in, a friend who thinks I’m Mr. Car yelled out, “What are you doing driving THAT?”

OK, it’s not a cool car, and it’s a gas guzzler to boot, but it has a CD player, a working heater, comfy seats. The fact that I can appreciate those things at all must mean I’m ready for AARP membership. But I slink down in the seat when behind the Regal’s wheel.

So when Hurricane Sandy came around, I saw my opportunity. The car was parked under a huge oak—exactly the kind of tree expected to come down in the storm. All I had to do was leave it there…
 

Falling trees were the big hazard in my neighborhood. (Jim Motavalli photo)
Falling trees were the big hazard in my neighborhood. (Jim Motavalli photo)

The wind started to blow. I looked out the window, and there was the poor Buick--forlorn, begging to be rescued. The wind picked up, started to howl. The leaves I’d bagged were liberated and blew around in a frenzy. Only emergency vehicles were coming by. There sat the Buick, its grey exoskeleton glowing in the fading light.
 

The survivor: My unhip 1999 Buick Regal. (Jim Motavalli photo.)
The survivor: My unhip 1999 Buick Regal. (Jim Motavalli photo)

Finally, I could stand it no longer. My conscience got the better of me, and I moved it around the corner. Soon after, my neighbor’s wooden fence blew apart, sending a big rectangular section straight across the road at, what, 40 mph? Guess what would have been taken out by a jet-propelled fence? Yes, the Buick!
 

This fence would have taken out my Buick, no question about it. (Jim Motavalli photo)
This fence would have taken out my Buick, no question about it. (Jim Motavalli photo)

Now, we’re in post-Sandy clean-up mode. We walked around the corner, and a huge oak—much like the one on my block that made it through the storm—had come down, taking out a multitude of power and telephone lines. It landed right where my neighbor had, until earlier that night, parked his derelict 1993 Mazda Miata.

Now, I had discussed buying that car from him but we decided it was too far gone and he should turn it into a parts vehicle for his other Miata. But if he’d just left the car where it was…

So neither of us is going to see a big insurance payout. But we’ll also sleep well tonight, even if it’s by candlelight.


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