My Old Pal Rosie

Mercedes Benz

My Old Pal Rosie
| Published March 29, 2014 |

By Jeanne Piraino Sigler
Thursday Review contributor

It was 1983. I was living and working in one of the most exciting cities in the world, Las Vegas, Nevada. I dwelled amongst the glamour and high-rollers, but my lifestyle was rather conservative and plain. Employed as an announcer for a small Gospel (you heard right) radio station with a modest staff, my income was restricted to say the least.

Desiring little, I maintained my cozy apartment, managing to scrape together rent, utilities and grocery money each month. I had a simple car that got me from point A to point B, which was usually, to shop, work, or church. Deep down, however, I had a secret wish that I would share with no one until a decade and a half later when oddly enough, it came true.

Driving through the streets of Las Vegas, one encounters all sorts of luxurious vehicles, from limos to Rolls Royce’s. But the car that always stood out for me was the one that set them all apart, the Mercedes Benz.

One in particular, a sleek silver job, must have belonged to someone in my neighborhood because I saw it frequently. I couldn’t tell you who the owner was because, like many cars in the glitter city, the windows were tinted. I always wondered if it was Liberace’s since he lived just up the road.

I used to drool at its very presence. One day I’d like to own one just like that one, I’d think. Then it was ‘reality check’ time. Right, like someone earning barely more than minimum wage can afford a dream car like that. No, I’d have to settle for my junker.

Years passed. I had married the following year and Michael and I spent the next several years as missionaries both abroad as well as domestically. We had little income, living totally by faith, driving car after car, many of which were held together with prayer, spit, and sealing wax. I’d long forgotten my luxury car fantasy, and frankly, it didn’t really matter anymore.

Eventually we settled in southeast Alabama. I was driving an old station wagon that was ready to give up the ghost. I knew this was inevitable when I got stopped by a state trooper for driving too slowly in city traffic. Flooring the poor thing, it barely reached 30 mph.

“Are you okay, Ma’am?” He asked. “Yes; why Officer?” I replied. “Uh, well then, is your car all right?” He said looking pitifully at it. I assured him we were both just fine, then tipping his hat he sent me on my way. In my rearview mirror, I watched him shake his head as my wagon expelled a billow of white smoke from the exhaust pipe.

Relating my tale of woe to my husband, he said, “Okay, time for another car.” Still on a very limited budget, we started looking around for something we could afford and the pickins were slim. Coming up empty, our friend who worked at a dealership said he’d keep an eye open.

The next day he called me at work to say he’d found something and would bring it right over. In minutes, Greg pulled up in the parking lot with an older model silver Mercedes. I about dropped my teeth. Half of me wanted to scream with delight and grab the keys, but my sensible half took over immediately and I blurted, “We cannot afford that.”

“But you can.” Greg said, smiling.

When he told me the asking price, it was exactly in our range. Surely this can’t be true, I wondered. “What year is it?” I inquired. This would be the true test. Had God answered this foolish prayer of mine after all these years? “An ’82, I think.” Greg answered. Perhaps not, I thought. “Oh, sorry,” he said, correcting himself. “The manual says 1983.”

Within hours I was signing the papers and driving off with my dream car and I was still as happy as a pig in slop. She needed a name. A friend suggested Rosie. It stuck.

For the next 12 years, Rosie and I traveled many happy miles together. She had numerous repairs and I learned to recognize each little quirk. Rosie had become a good friend and I couldn’t imagine driving anything else.

The final time I took her in for an oil change, I got some unhappy news. My mechanic Dave began to list all the problems he’d discovered when he had the car on the rack. After half a million miles, she was on her way out. I remember thanking Dave for his thorough diagnosis, then walking away sad, whispering. “Let’s go home, Rosie,” as I turned the ignition key.

The day had come for another new set of wheels. The idea of parting with my old pal made me very sad, indeed. Sitting behind the steering wheel of something else just would not be the same.

I’ll always be grateful for the answer to my long-awaited prayer. Though old and worn when we finally did say good bye, Rosie will always remain in my memories as a class act.

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