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Small Talk: Beloved car pushed all the right buttons

I swear I am back in the Stone Age.

I bought a new car and it requires I use a key. Yes, that’s right. After 14 years of just pushing a button, I suddenly have to dig around in my purse, find the key and physically put it into the ignition. And I have to yank the hand brake on. Oh, and no more digital speedometer. I’m just exhausted.

I have been driving a Toyota Prius since 2007. It was my first brand-new car, and it has been a love affair. I love that it can be absolutely silent. Everything about it has been smooth and very nearly painless. There is a chance that the 2007 Prius will continue to run forever, with just a bit more maintenance than was needed the first 12 years. But I just replaced some rather expensive coils and there is the chance that the big battery — which runs about $3,000 — will finally die. It was only supposed to last three years. Or, the entire car may just fall to dust, like Oliver Wendell Holmes’ “…one-hoss shay, / That was built in such a logical way / It ran a hundred years to the day.”

I decided I wasn’t willing to risk it. I spent far too many years going from breakdown to breakdown and being free of that was a joy beyond compare. Well, of course, I’d like to have gotten another new Prius, but the windfalls that financed that are well and truly gone. I finally turned loose of my dream of an all-electric Prius and looked for something more affordable.

My son has been driving Honda Fits since 2014, and actually leased a second one. They have lived up to their reputation of running like little tops. They are an easy-to-park compact and wonderfully fuel-efficient. I decided it filled the primary requirement of keeping me moving from point A to Point B with as little fuss as possible, for a price I could almost manage.

But I already miss my Prius. Yeah, yeah. It’s only been two days, but the changes have me in a right kerfuffle. I can’t tell how fast I am going by the seat of my pants — things just feel odd. I may well sprain my left foot jamming it down on an emergency break that is no longer there. The shift column isn’t terribly different, but it is different. Up and down instead of side-to-side. And that key… 14 years of habit has to be beaten out of me and that is just tiresome.

I know. I know. I’ll get used to it, but give me just a moment to mourn my first love, that so spoiled me. Farewell, my keyless fob. Run in peace.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer driving old school. Contact her at [email protected].