No love lost for autos

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 28, 2006

I know Americans are supposed to have a love affair with the car, but it looks like the affair has fallen on hard times.

Ford announced earlier this week they are going to cut at least 30,000 jobs in the next few years and General Motors announced it lost over $4 billion last year.

Domestic manufactures are also bracing for the next big threat, China. The Chinese are on the verge of entering the U.S. automobile market with an inexpensive compact known as the Geely.

Just about everything else Americans buy is manufactured in China, why not cars?

Oil is selling for almost $70 a barrel and a gallon of gas costs around $2.50. Unfortunately, gas prices only appear to be on their way up as a major oil supplier, Iran, is threatening to jump into the nuclear ring with the big boys.

Solar anyone?

My relationship with automobiles has been a little rocky from the start.

I was so excited about receiving my learner’s permit that I actually took the classroom part during the summer.

Unfortunately, once I received my permit, my practice time behind the wheel was less than adequate. It seemed whenever I was driving, everybody in my family had to be in the car. My older sister, and self-appointed expert on everything, would sit in the backseat while I drove and critique my every move. She was no dummy and always sat in the back. She never knew when her &uot;driving tips&uot; might evoke her little brother’s temper.

My Dad, a great father on all other accounts, was even worse. I will never forget driving one time and barely veering off the road. I thought my Dad was having a heart attack.

Sure we may have been in the mountains, heights have never been his thing, and there may have been a small cliff on the side of the road, but a little patience people. What is the worst that could happen?

My confidence was shaken and I refused to drive anymore if either of them were in the car. Needless to say, when the time came to take my driving test, I was not prepared.

As I slumped into school following the miserable failure, my friend Stephen, who was in Spanish class at the time, noticed me walking towards the entrance. Stephen, never one to let something like class get in the way of his interests, jumped out of his seat, ran to the window and asked me how it went. I just shook me head.

The look of disappointment on his face was unforgettable. Failing the driving test is one thing, but letting your friends down when they are depending on you to drive them around on the weekends is pure tragedy.

I know there are plenty of others who struggle with the car love affair.

Anyone who has failed to get into the opposite lane when passing an emergency vehicle knows what I am taking about. Sure there was a car in the lane beside you and you didn’t know it was a law in the first place, but fairness and understanding is apparently a lost art among certain people.

If the only time your car is low on gas is when you’re running late, you also understand. Don’t push your luck, though, the results aren’t pretty, especially when the low fuel light forgets to come on.

Where is that personal jetpack powered by fuel cells I was promised?