You can pretty much love anything in this world: other people, food, surfing, a pair of shoes, you name it. The anthropomorphic nature of our species makes it common to love objects, infusing them with human traits and characteristics to the point where we imagine that this “being” is actually capable of receiving our affectations. That might sound crazy because it is! If you smile at your favorite shirt or speak to your house then you, my friend, have lost your marbles.
Unless it’s a car. People loving cars probably started on day 1 after the first car was built. Since their inception, our culture has celebrated automobiles in writing, photography, music, movies, and more. From country to hip-hop, songs abound about the unrequited love someone has for their mode of transportation have normalized the “relationship” so many of us have with these mechanical devices. Speaking to your car and expecting that it hears you, and even thinking that it speaks back to you, or that it loves you, is something that has been largely accepted by society.
That doesn’t make it any less crazy, and if you do this then you, my friend (again), have lost your marbles.
In my case that doesn’t apply, though. I’m not crazy because my car is different. She’s not just any car either, but the bestest car ever conceived and one that truly loves me back (not crazy at all). The love story I’m about to share with you will reverberate through history as one of the greats, just like Romeo and Juliet but without the death, and one of them is an automobile. The greatest automobile ever made by anyone who ever dared make an automobile.
The 2010 Mercedes Benz GLK 350 is, by far, the finest automobile ever produced. And the one that I was lucky enough to purchase a decade ago is, by far, the finest of that bunch. Yes, I am proud to be partnered with the best damn car on the planet. And yes again, I did say partner. I don’t own this car – we’re a team. An unstoppable force of nature when working together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.
On a whim, I drove down to Mercedes Benz of Georgetown, bound set and determined to dump my latest expensive mistake. I was over it. She went through my cash like an ATM, leaving me financially and emotionally drained. While my friends all thought she was gorgeous, I only knew her to be a liar. We had been together for less than two years and I just felt used. I already knew of the GLK and my curiosity was peaked (we had passed each other in the hallway), but the new, fancier models still just made me cringe. I told the salesperson that I wanted one with a few miles, and that’s when I saw her.
Not in the showroom with the popular crowd, but out on the lot. Loaded with options? Not at all, a stripped-down version of her more popular contemporaries, sitting alone in the cafeteria. She had been a loaner, trafficked in the seedy underworld of automotive service, and passed around with little regard for her well-being. She never knew a real home or a true friend. She was still the current model year even though she suffered 10,000 miles at the hands of god-knows-who, and was $11,000 off the base model price. She had no Bluetooth and no backup camera, but her seats heat up so there’s that. She was like a rescue (ok, maybe a little crazy), it was love at first sight, and she came home with me that day.
Since that time we’ve been inseparable. Once she had a home and a true friend behind her wheel her loyalty and strength came to blossom. With four doors she’s been able to handle as much family as a luxury sedan, Realtors on a home tour, clients looking to buy, all the dogs you can assemble, and even drunken bandmates. With her 3.5 liter V6 she will never allow me to be late. She knows when we’re in a hurry and there’s always a pep in her step when there are lots to do. Her cargo capacity has seen everything from lumber and tools to amps and guitars. Construction trash to platters of food, new appliances and old, and more real estate signs and lockboxes than I can remember. She’s the perfect airport car, fitting all four of us plus luggage, getting us there in time, and waiting patiently in the elements for our return without complaint.
Here ten years later she has her scars as time has taken its toll – from the cracked windshield to the numerous dings and scratches all over her body. Bumpers front and back are battle-worn from a history of abrasions and decorated with a smattering of varied political opinions. Inside, what few electronic gizmos she had in her younger years are fading from use one by one. Finish is wearing thin and fabrics are starting to separate. Despite a decade of rock-solid reliability, she’s been needing more frequent trips to the shop for this or that. Our loyalty is a two-way street though, and I’ll be there for her as she’s been for me. Despite the wrinkles and age spots, her engine roars to life every day, she handles as nimbly as she did in her youth, the AC blows cold, and she can still catch a strong signal on her FM radio.
Thinking back on the last decade, she’s seen me through some tough times. When I first bought the GLK, Ava was less than a year old, we still owned the photo studios, and Linnemann Realty was still working out of a 3-room suite on Florence Road. There were tough times and challenges to face down. No matter how stressful life ever got, the one thing I never had to worry about was my ride. She always ran, she always handled whatever I needed her to do, and she never stressed me out financially. A true friend.
The GLK now has about 228,000 miles on her, a staggering achievement considering the difficult nature of her journey. Comparatively, that’s the same distance if you drove around Earth at the equator – nine times. It’s like driving from Killeen to Los Angeles 166 times. The distance to the moon is 238,900 miles, and in my heart, I know she’ll get me there. The real question is, will she get me back?
Until then I will faithfully change those tires, I’ll keep those fluids fresh, and yes, you’ll get a good washing at least once a week. I’ll say nice things and make sure you know every day that you’re the single best car on the planet (not crazy).
Because it’s the truth. And saying nice things to your car keeps your car running better. I hope.