So here’s a tale of fantasies foiled. Emily and I were approaching 300,000 miles on our 2003 Toyota. I’ve experience odometric orgasms in the past: 123,456; 111,111; and 222,222 come to mind quickly. They’re always satisfying, each in its own way. But 300,000! Back in the day, when odometers only had five digits, when if you were fortunate enough to have a car that reached 99,999 you could witness it return to 00,000, yes, those were the days. But 300,000 wasn’t even a fantasy back then.
Now our car hit 250,000 and it was going strong. 275,000 and it was leaking a little oil but driving fine. 290,000 and requiring only two additional quarts between oil changes to keep the dipstick measuring full. 295,000. 299,000….
The danger in emerging situations like these is that you’ll be interrupted just at the moment of o.o. A cop car with its siren blazing catches your eye in the rearview mirror. A billboard contains a typographical error. (Okay, that’s only a distraction to literary anal retentives.)
But not this time. Emily and I got into the car heading to Cleveland for the weekend and, lo and behold, the odometer was reading 299,999. Piece o’ cake. We would be on side roads for more than a mile before we hit the freeway. We could drive slowly, watch the odometer carefully, and then pull over to the side of the road safely at the exact moment when we reached the magic milestone so we could take a picture to post on Facebook.
We drove left off our street, then right into the development with the “No thru traffic” sign that we always ignore on our way to the freeway. When we reached the stop sign onto the main road, we noted in unison our surprise that the digit hadn’t changed, but a string of fast food restaurants on the next street offered us plenty of parking lots where we could pull away from traffic to take the picture.
As we passed one restaurant after the next, it didn’t change. When we reached the on-ramp to the freeway, I said to Emily, “I’m pretty sure we live farther than a mile from the freeway.” Emily agreed. Our only hope then was to go into denial. But with four college degrees and two good math minds between us, we came to a somber conclusion: Either our odometer is broken or Toyota odometers are programmed to stop short of the goal.
We’re now at least 500 miles past 300,000. Our odometer continues to taunt us. Toyota engineers, what have you done?