Earlier today, with my father at my side just as he was back in 2011, I purchased a new vehicle. The move back to the National Capital Region last year has not been kind to The Gazelle. Though I won’t put my very durable Jeep Compass Sport out to pasture, its time as my vehicle of choice for long distance travel and marquee events has passed. Today, I purchased a red 2017 Jeep Renegade Limited, which I’ll be writing on pretty shortly. For the first time since 2005, I have a red vehicle. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: The Red Fox.
How I first came across this moment? My history with the Red Fox goes all the way back to Moody AFB in Valdosta, Georgia. I was in a week-long seminar called First Term Airman Center (FTAC), which was basically an orientation into permanent party Air Force culture for brand new junior enlisted airmen. During one of the FTAC sessions, the branch manager of Southeastern Federal Credit Union—the on-base banking institution—came and gave us a crash course on bank accounts and how to establish credit. She also mentioned that she could help each of us personally with financial advice. I took advantage of that and in my consultation with her, a conversation about acquiring a vehicle came up. I was in obvious need of wheels as I was no longer in possession of The Deuce after “selling” it to my mother in what turned out to be a failed transaction. The branch manager—her name was Deidre—hooked me up with a local used car dealership that was pretty reputable. While on the lot, I saw a few different vehicles but the one that stole the moment for me was a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am SE. It was bright red. Only had about 38000 miles on it. I immediately fell in love with it and took it for a test drive. After calling my father and going through some specific checks he recommended, I got down to the business of acquiring my 2nd lifetime vehicle. I decided to take out a loan with Southeastern Federal Credit Union for what was my very first line of credit. I drove off the lot and into the Valdosta streets at the helm of my new ride. My first stop: Hungry Howie’s Pizza. While I was waiting for my pizza, I stood by the window admiring the new ride. A fellow patron in the store noted that it must be a new car for me, which I acknowledged. He said it looked like “a foxy ride”. And that’s how the Grand Am got its name: The Red Fox.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, I had so many different emotions about the acquisition of The Red Fox. As I noted, it represented my first foray into the world of credit. It also gave me the ability to navigate Valdosta on my own terms and not necessarily as a tag-along…as I had been up until that point. I pounded a lot of road in that ride…drove to Tallahassee for a date with a woman I met off CollegeClub.com…drove to Fort Walton Beach a few times. I even did my What The Heck Is In Georgia tour in that car.
What it means to me now? After roughly 23500 miles, I ran into a couple of issues with the ignition. Rather than continue to pay for repairs, I decided to trade it in and that’s when I moved into the SUV division with the Midnight Blue Express. For 2 ½ years, The Red Fox was my primary mode of transport and it was very durable. Looking back on it, I probably should’ve given it some more run but I still appreciate it nonetheless.