Anthropomorphism: Attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals or natural phenomena.
For the record, it’s something that I’m guilty of doing. I’m particularly bad about it when it comes to vehicles. Through the years most anything with four wheels and an engine I have owned has been given a name:
“Blue” was a Chevy Celebrity whose color was … blue. In its later years it “drank” oil like a fiend, but will be remembered fondly for its reliability, which was important as it “faithfully’ broke in a handful of new drivers.
“The Beast” was a rust-speckled Ford Granada that was given our family and provided valuable service when oldest son, Caleb, went to college.
“The Lemon” was a yellow VW bug that was christened with this less-than-favorable moniker because of its unreliability.
“Cara” was short for Caravan. This Dodge minivan was also given our family with the expectation it would last maybe a year because of its flaky “personality.” However, despite its transmission issues, it wound up serving our family well before going to its final reward.
“Astro,” a 1993 Ford Aerostar, was part of our family for 15 years. As our primary vehicle much of that time, it made a couple extended trips to the Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of outings to visit out-of-town family members and a zillion excursions to the grocery store, to haul kids from Point A to B and to church.
Astro had “likes” and “dislikes.” It did not like snow – period. If snow was forecast, Astro usually “hunkered down” at home, but there were a few times when the snow arrived before I got off work. That usually led to me pleading with Astro to behave as it spun its rear wheels in just a dusting of snow. But it seemed to like cold weather as it would always start, no matter how frigid it got.
Astro was frequently my vehicle of choice for photo excursions. It was especially appreciated for allowing me to shoot lightning from the relative safety of its rear cargo area. I could take photos of lightning with the rear hatch raised and usually remain nice and dry.
A little over a year ago we received the bad news that Astro had a serious health issue – a cracked head. And while that brought an end to its out-of-town excursions because of a lack of power, that didn’t stop me from using it to putter around town for work and play.
Astro took me on a couple of lightning chases this spring. It also took my wife, Nancy, and me on a memorable sunset outing late this spring at Hannibal Regional Airport.
One morning last month as I stopped at the Courier-Post to pick up a notebook, Astro behaved oddly. When I went to start it, absolutely nothing happened. While it eventually did start, the indication that Astro had developed a major electrical short was concerning.
After that one incident, Astro was on its best behavior for the next week or so. One Sunday evening, after a rain shower pushed through, Astro and I went out for a sunset chase, which took us across the bridge into Illinois. As it had countless times before, it got me back home safely that night without incident. However, the next morning when I went to start Astro to head to work, it was dead, and this time for good.
I realize that Astro could have easily left me stranded that Sunday night in Illinois, but it didn’t. Pardon me for being an anthropomorphist, but I like to believe the old van wanted to share one final adventure with me before its time was up.