Emotions run wild as ‘ghetto mobile’ reaches 200K

By John Toth
Bulletin Publisher

Last week I experienced a momentous occasion. My 1995 Dodge Caravan, also referred to affectionately as the ghetto mobile, hit 200,000 miles.

I call it the ghetto mobile because it needs a paint job, a new interior, a door lock on the driver’s side, and several more things that would take too long to enumerate.

But, it runs like a dream and has cold A/C (as opposed to warm A/C).

I have been tempted many times to junk this van, trade it in, or just give it away, but I’ve always changed my mind. My family thinks I’m nuts for sinking more money into it, but I know that once they see the final product, they’ll agree it was worth it.

The problem is that the final product may take a while, which is why I am the only one driving it at the moment.

I kind of feel sorry for the ugly old van, but it embarrasses me as well. That’s why I drive it wearing dark sunglasses.

I’ll never have to worry about someone stealing it. I have even left the key in it and put a sign on the windshield saying: “Key in ignition. Please steal me.”

When I returned, the van was still there, but someone stole the sign.

Just kidding. I would never do that. The van means a lot to me. I have written earlier columns about it. The van has too much family history to be … disposed.

It has a cracked windshield, but I have been hesitant to replace it. I know that eventually I will have to, but the windshield itself holds memories. My daughter a very long time ago painted it purple when she got bored during a Little League game.

The replacement windshield would not have remnants of the purple paint. But we’ll be able to see through it better, which will be nice.

It also leaks when it rains. That’s another problem I didn’t mention earlier.

The carpeting is the same one on which my younger son threw up when we drove to Disney World. I had to get some vomit-be-gone spray for that one.

But, the car has been loyal: It has only let me down once. It would not start at a friend’s house, and I had to get it towed. Other than that, it always got me home, even when it developed a problem.

The gas mileage is nothing to write home about. Come to think of it, nothing in this car is worth writing home about. But, who writes home anymore?

I’m going to eventually pimp it out. By the time I get through with this van, the family will be fighting over who gets to drive it.

This is why I wanted to commemorate the 200,000 miles with a photograph. It’s a good thing that I have this fancy phone now that also takes decent pictures.

I estimated that it would happen on my morning drive to Texas City, so I am watching those numbers carefully. At 199,999 I’m looking for a place to pull over to take the photo.

There is no shoulder. A driveway will have to do. I’ll be out of here in a minute.

Just hold off with those tanker trucks. I’m taking several shots to get a good one for the paper. Tanker truck drivers sure have a colorful vocabulary.

I’ll have to angle it just right to make the odometer look good. It’s like a Kodak moment, except for the Kodak. More like an Android moment.

I’ll run a picture of the entire van when I write another column about the odometer reaching 300,000. By then, it will be all decked out, and I won’t be embarrassed if someone sees me in it. I may even take off my dark sunglasses.