Even a borrowed one. A couple of weeks ago, some publicists for Ford asked if I didn't want to try out a Flex for a while. The retrofuturistic not-a-station-wagon is one of the few cars I did want to try, so I took them up on their offer. It arrived yesterday. I had to fold the mirrors in to get it down our alley-like driveway. I took it out for 30 minutes this morning, and I can say without qualification that it changed my life.
Instead of walking, I drive the kid to preschool. Though the Flex looks like a station wagon from the outside, inside it feels like an SUV. The doors lock automatically as you roll off. When we get to the carpool line at school, the teacher can't open the door. I can't find the unlock switch. I am slowing down the line. Ah, there it is. The teacher, who couldn't see through the blackout windows, calls the kid's name, "So that's who was in there!"
"It's not our car!" are the first laughing words of greeting from the kid's mouth. "We borrowed it so we could blog about it!" are next. "Isn't that crazy? Blogging about a car?" follow.
Two minutes is not enough of a trip to make it worth threading the driveway needle again. I want to go to Burger King. No, because it's the only drivethrough for like twenty miles. I get some French Toast Sticks. The traffic back into town is horrible. Connecticut Avenue is at a standstill. Is this what suburbanites put up with every day?
A scrawny deer is picking its way through the terraced flowerbed of an apartment building. It leaps onto the sidewalk. It is not--yes it is. It is running across the street. Connecticut Freaking Avenue. It is not darting; it is lurching between the stopped cars. I realize this is not my car. An all-at-once combination of relief, guilt, and fascination. Now the deer is behind me. It thuds loudly against the fender of the gold Toyota in my--well, it's not a blind spot, because the Flex has these wing-like mirrors. The deer is down. The deer gets back up and keeps on running.
Traffic is barely moving. French toast sticks will be inedible by the time I get home. I break them out. The syrup fits perfectly, snugly, into the Flex's shifter track. God bless America, her syrup-holder-equipped station wagons will turn this economy around.
The guy on my left moves up. He has two deep dents in his fender, which he probably can't see from there. A black collie wearing a broken leash or a bandana darts through the cars, heading in the direction of the deer. I realize the traffic is because a gang of eco-terrorists led by Brad Pitt has let all the animals out of the National Zoo.
No, it's because they're pouring concrete to build a #$%ing Walgreen's across the street from a CVS, and have closed two of four lanes during rush hour. I turn off Connecticut and take the side streets home. The Flex won't fit into at least two parking spaces I think it should.
Holy crap, when you shift into reverse, the syrup flies out and falls into the little bin where you put the EZ-Pass. Who designed this syrup holder?? The wipes are in the other car. Burger King only gave me two napkins. I lick my EZ-Pass clean and put it where the cell phone goes. I hope that other little bin has unit-body construction, because I am leaving the deep syrup cleanup for later.
A spot near a fire hydrant is open. I parallel park with triumphant ease, then get out of the car and see what a suburban job I did. Objects in the backup camera are not as close as they appear.
Cleanup Update: Ooh, they're good. The bin has an L-shaped rubber lining, removable for easy cleaning. It even looks dishwasher-safe:
Hmm, that picture looks grosser than the actual syrup-soaked Pampers wipes.