Joanne Palmer: I’ll never take my car for granted again |

Joanne Palmer: I’ll never take my car for granted again

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

I said I didn't need you. I was wrong. I said I'd take care of you forever. I did not. I said I'd always be faithful. I strayed. You got mad. You got even. You blew up on U.S. Highway 40.

You didn't cry. You didn't threaten to change the locks or cancel the checking account. No. It was far, far worse. On Thursday morning, right in the middle of the crazy get-the-teenager-to-school-before-he-is-late routine, my Ford Explorer started bucking, jerking and belching big clouds of smoke from the exhaust pipe.

My son and I stared at each other, horrified.

Always cool, calm and collected in moments of crisis, I looked at him and shrieked, "What should I do?"

He wisely advised me to pull over and park the car.

"Now what?" I wailed.

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"Call Angie," he replied.

At that moment, some major realizations bubbled up from my innermost being. First, I am useless in a crisis. (If you are one of my friends and are reading this, I beg you not to make me your health care proxy.) Second, I must have done something right as a mother because my son was making good suggestions for a nondriver. Third, and hardest to admit: Not having a car would be terribly inconvenient.

I need my car. I am dependent on my car. I can't do my job without my car.

When we met, it was love at first sight. The paint was peeling from my old Subaru, and I wanted a car that could pull a pop-up camper. At that time, gas was less expensive, and a used Ford Explorer with 60,000 miles on it was just the ticket, I thought. I drove her home full of resolve and conviction that I would be a model car owner: I would change the oil regularly, rotate the tires and be a frequent visitor to the car wash.

I am sorry to say, I did not uphold my end of the bargain.

I hate to admit this, but my car is a bit of a bubble. While driving, I can't really do anything except, well, drive. I can escape the tyranny of the house. There is no dishwasher to unload and reload, no meals to cook, no toilet bowl to scrub.

To keep up with the ever-changing weather conditions in Northwest Colorado, my car sometimes seems to contain half of my closet. Don't ask me where the important things, like the registration, owner's manual and insurance card, are located.

I can tell you, however, that my car contains hiking boots, dog leashes, rain gear and workout wear.

Since my car has been waiting for the mechanic to look at her, I feel as though she is in car hospice. You only have 130,000 miles. It can't be your time. Don't leave me now.

I have my fingers crossed that she makes a speedy and not-too-expensive recovery. If she does, I'll do better. I promise. This time, I mean it. I will never take my car for granted again.

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