RIP Rhonda Honda 1994-2017

I met my little red Honda in 1995. A bubble headed blonde girl in Knoxville was selling her because her husband had two cars and hers was an extra and had the largest payment. The Honda had about 20k miles on her, if I recall. I paid about $11k for her, which was below loan value. The girl was mad that she had to sell the car, so she sold it for literally what was left of her loan. It was a good deal. I got 22 years of service out of that car, so yeah, it was a VERY good deal.

That was back in the olden days before cameras in phones, so I don’t have any baby pix of Rhonda. The only ones I could dig up were these shots, taken right after her repairs and paint job about 10 years ago:

She was a beauty!

The last few years had been fraught with repairs. Last year I sunk about $2k into her with new parts and a new tranny/clutch. It seemed like a good idea at the time… I knew I should’ve sold her right after I got her repaired, but I let my laziness and attachment get the best of me. That, and I was distracted with the VSG surgery.

So, last week, we attended Heroes Con in Charlotte NC and took the Honda. I knew I should’ve taken her in for a once over and oil change, but decided to take her without that. Bad move.

After the con, we were checking out of the hotel and she was acting strangely. She’d start, then die. I called AAA and had her taken to the nearest Honda store: Hendrick Honda.

We sat there all day while they worked on her. They found some issues that I assume were left over from the big service I had done last year and fixed them. They replaced the master circuit and said she was good to go. It was 4:30pm, drive time, but we got in the car and took off for home. Less than 10 minutes later, in 70mph traffic, the car just turns off, which is what it had been doing originally. Fortunately, there was a hole in traffic and I got her to the end of the merge lane against the guard rail. Apparently, people in CLT drive in this lane.

A couple of minutes later, an Estes truck sideswipes my drivers side mirror. The wheels were literally about four inches from my face and the whole car was rocking. I’ve never been so scared! I’m screaming and freaking out and the truck just keeps going. Fucker. I try the car again and it starts, so I move up and over to the shoulder. Apparently people in CLT drive on the shoulder, too, as I was almost sideswiped again. The car was still running, so I pulled up and over into the grass. The Hendrick tow truck guy was busy, so I again called AAA. But this time they were total DICKS to me and I had to pay $45 for the goddam tow. We had to wait about an hour and a half for the truck to get to us, but the car was idling fine, so we had A/C at least.

We drop the car back at Hendrick and head back to the Hampton Inn. Shout out to our AAA driver who shlepped us over to Hampton – ssshhh, it’s a secret! Shout out to Andrew at Hampton Inn for handling the room booking and cashing in my points to pay for it. He took care of everything and that helped us out immensely. And another shout out to whomever at Hampton comped our dinner that night. We just now (3 wks later) saw that the receipt was comped. THAT, my friends, is SERVICE. They did not have to do that, but they did and didn’t even say anything about it. WE LOVE YOU HAMPTON INN CLT UPTOWN!!!

Next day (Tuesday) we get the Hendrick shuttle to come get us and we sit in the dealership all day. They tried several parts and worked heroically to save Rhonda. They could not. We thought we had it for a minute, but I knew that we couldn’t trust the car to get us back, so I had a rental lined up. We entertained the idea of shipping her back since it was only $250 for a running car, but then she refused to start up. Now the shipping was $450. I talked to my mechanics here and we went over some things it could be, and it boiled down to this: it would cost me about a grand to find out what’s wrong… IF the things we tried worked.

So. No. I had to let her go. It was just like a movie: pouring rain, me crying my eyes out, my poor little Honda sitting there w/out her stickers and tag. Tragic.

Last look. Sob.

The people at Hendrick Honda in CLT are the most amazing bunch I’ve ever seen. They worked for TWO DAYS on my car and would not let me pay for labour. They reimbursed me for the $45 tow. They even took all the parts back. My tab was something like $150. Since the car was 22 years old, the top dollar they could pay for the car was $500. But since she wouldn’t start, the actual offer was $250. BUT the used car buyer (Dorian!) gave me the $500 anyway. They didn’t have to do any of this stuff. But they did. THAT is what I call customer service. The used car buyer is also shopping the auctions for me, since what I want (a stick shift) is very VERY hard to find. He did not have to do that, either. I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying my car in CLT. Unless he just cannot find a thing, I plan to drive up there and buy from that store. They have earned a customer. [I found my unicorn here in ATL. I apologized to Dorian in CLT, but he was a prince about it. <3 ] I hope my Rhonda gets bought by someone who will get her fixed and maybe make her a little street racer. She did start right up for me when I went to remove her stickers, which infuriated me and broke my heart at the same time. She'd not started up for anyone all day. I'm not sure if that was her flipping me off, or if it was her telling me that it was OK and she'd find a new home. I'm ok with either. So for the first time since I'm 15 years old, I do not have a car. It's strange. I do not look forward to being $12-14k in debt, but that's what it's going to take. Cars are too fucking pricey now. I am grateful for all the help I'm getting looking for a car and for Rob letting me borrow his Subaru while I'm carless. It'll all work out. But it's been a very stressful and heartbreaking week. I hope my car fu will work for ME and I'll find a good deal on an SI or Mazda 3. But right this minute, I'm exhausted and spent. I don't even feel like car shopping, which I normally enjoy. The experience was just like losing a pet. I felt like I'd been sitting in hospital for two days while they tried to save her. Horrible. But it will all work out. The Universe is telling me to get the fuck over it and MOVE ON. So I am. Sigh.

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