Monday, May 14, 2012

How My Wife's Car Met 200,000 Miles

On the 2007 How I Met Your Mother episode "Arrivederci, Fiero" the plot revolves around how Marshall's car is about to hit 200,000 miles on the odometer. Anticipating the milestone he had celebratory cigars in the glove compartment. As the odometer is on 199,999 he directs passenger Ted to get the cigars, but at that moment the car hits a pothole and stalls before the numbers roll over on the dash. With the car at the mechanic the episode explores the car's history through flashbacks, with the first one involving a cross-country trip Marshall and Ted took back in college wherein it's revealed that the only music they can listen to is a cassette-single of the Proclaimers' one hit, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," which is permanently stuck in the car's tape deck (and which they go through phases of loving and hating and loving again).

I mention all that as a preface for the story of the last Sunday in April. As we were driving back from a birthday party for our nephew, my wife's '98 Volvo was bearing down on 200K. However, with maybe 15 miles until we got home it was only at 199,960; at that pace the momentous moment would occur on Monday as she was driving to work—a less-than-momentous scenario. She wanted us to be together when the odometer's first digit rolled from 1 to 2, not sitting in traffic alone on the 405, so we exited the freeway and headed down to the ocean around Palos Verdes (a peninsula jutting out from the line of the coast). However, even with that detour, when eventually we were close to home we still had 8 miles to go, so we proceeded past home and farther along the coast to the eastern part of Long Beach.

Finally we had put enough miles of distance on the car so the odometer was on the verge of rolling over to the magic number and she pulled up the Proclaimers' song on her phone, replicating the HIMYM scenario (somewhat). However, she'd started it a little too soon and it finished playing when the number still read 199,999 and as she tried replaying it the internet connection on her phone kept cutting in and out—stalling, if you will. So as the car's odometer hit that threshold and the numbers were a 2 followed by five 0's we had to sing "And I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more…" a capella (and off-key). Then, yes, we pulled over and took a picture (above) of the odometer to document it for posterity. (She had no cigars in the glove box.)

Then, after killing close to an hour to achieve it, we could go back home missing accomplished. I pulled out and made a U-turn to head us back toward the house… and immediately the car bounced as we ran over a pothole I hadn't seen in the dusk light. (I am not making that up.) The car didn't stall, thank goodness.

However, as we proceeded farther and it got a bit darker I noticed the dashboard lights were out, and then we realized the headlights too were not illuminated. (The car has daytime running headlights so they should have been on already.) For a moment it seemed like the 200,000-mile mark carried with it some curse. Luckily it proved only to require pulling over again and restarting the car to get the lights working again. We didn't have time for a trip to the mechanic and a series of reminiscing flashbacks. Our fidelity to the HIMYM episode could only go so far.

(It's a given that we watch the syndicated HIMYM episodes too much.)


  1. Congrats, I think that's a record for a Volvo. I have thought about setting my sister's '88 Volvo on fire just to keep her from pouring more good money after bad into it, but living thousands of miles away means I would need to hire someone to do it, and things just get messier from there. It's just better to wait for it to self-immolate. I doubt I'll need to wait very long.

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