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This fall, after many years and many miles with my old car, I finally broke down and got a new one.

This was not a terribly difficult decision. My old car was the age of our teenager. It was in dreadful need of some major repair work, once again. I said goodbye.

Still, more than a month later, I think about how this new vehicle will someday be the one in which our 13-year-old daughter will, yikes, learn to drive. These will likely be the wheels that transport her to college. Down the road, I may even drive it off to the retirement home. I'm kidding. Or am I?

This is why I plan to take very, very good care of it.

My old car through the years hauled car seats, strollers, corn husks, flats of flowers, furniture, bags of mulch, bicycles, recyclables, school projects, cupcakes, cottage gear, pets and plenty of passengers. Against my nature, I allowed gum wrappers to be stashed in door handle grooves and snacks to be dropped between seats.

The dog scratched up the upholstery. The exterior had more dings than a doorbell. The windshield suffered chips.

My new vehicle? The first month, no food of any sort was allowed. Not even an Altoid.
No breakfast runs through the drive-thru. No volunteering to pick up takeout. No delivering her beloved fish dinner to my mother on Friday nights. Sorry, too stinky and messy.

"What's THAT?" I would snap, eyeing someone grabbing what appeared to be a tissue from her purse or pocket.

I was scaring the passengers.

Parking was another story those first few weeks. "Mom, you have to park somewhere," my daughter would groan, after we circled the supermarket lot a few dozen times.

"I don't want anyone to park anywhere near me," I'd insist, finally choosing a spot miles from the front entrance. "Be sure you open the door very carefully," I'd command next, after gently shifting my new baby into park and removing a speck of dust from the dashboard.

After a few weeks, I softened a bit.

These days I may bring along my coffee for work in a travel mug, albeit a very secure one. I finally allowed my daughter to bring home a slice of hot pizza in a takeout box, after realizing that strapping it to the roof really wasn't a good option.

But honestly, especially with winter coming, I wish I could come up with a reasonable way for people to remove their gloppy footwear before climbing into my vehicle.

Until them, please wipe your shoes. At least five times.

@email address/EOS:email: smartin@buffnews.com