Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)
TITLE: Red, Shiny and Lemon
By Cheryl Martin
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It was lunchtime, and Beth was doing her second favorite thing—leafing through the new car catalog. Her favorite thing, of course, was actually being in the showroom looking, feeling and smelling the new car she wanted to buy soon. Beth’s ’95 sedan had over 200,000 miles on it. It sputtered and rattled, but it still got her where she needed to go. She had often dreamed of the day she would drive her new car off the lot. It would be shiny red and have all the features the dealer offered. She had investigated the web site, saved her money and even checked with her insurance agent. Was she obsessed? Perhaps. How badly did she want this new car? She had been brown-bagging instead of going out to lunch with her friends. She bought generic and store brands of almost everything. She opted out of movies and chose to watch old videos with her friends instead. She even cut out a picture of her dream car and kept it on her bathroom mirror just to remind herself of why she was being such a penny-pincher these days.
As Beth crunched her baby carrots, she thought about her life since she moved here to take this job. She didn’t require a lot to be happy. She had a small apartment which she shared with her dog, Zach, and she enjoyed time with her friends. Her parents and her brother lived back in Tennessee, and she tried to get there at least every three months. One of her favorite things to do was to travel out-of-the-way roads and discover small towns and beautiful scenery. She always had her camera with her. With her aging car, though, she was doing a lot less of that exploring lately.
Beth glanced at the clock on the wall and realized that lunch hour was over. She pushed her chair in and started down the hall. She had two more pay periods, and then she’d have the downpayment. She was excited.
Three weeks later Beth was sitting in her brand new, shiny red car. She was only half listening as Mr. Browning introduced her to all the controls, buttons and gauges. She breathed deeply and took in that heady, new car aroma. She thanked the salesman for his help and promised to let him know if there were any problems. Then she was off for a day of exploring. She went home first to pick up Zach. He’d enjoy getting out. It was a sunny, warm day.
She sailed along listening to her favorite radio station and singing along at the top of her lungs. This was sweet—all she had imagined it would be. Zach had his head out the passenger window. It was almost as if he had a smile on his face—he liked riding in her new car, too.
Monday morning Beth left her apartment to go to work; but when she got to the garage and started her car, there was a warning light that wouldn’t go out. She had to get to work; she’d call Mr. Browning at lunch.
Mr. Browning had assured Beth they would check out the problem as soon as she could get there after work. Now she sat in the waiting room while the service technician took a look at her car. He came out and told Beth that the car had a major problem, and they would need to keep it over night to work on it the next day. They would give her a loaner. She was disappointed.
Over the next two months it seemed Beth’s shiny red car spent more time at the dealership than it did in her garage. There was always something that wasn’t right. She was beginning to think she should have gotten a lemon yellow car instead of a shiny red one. When the service technician gave her yet another piece of bad news, it was the final straw. Mr. Browning was gone for the day, but he would hear from her in the morning. Her dream car had become a nightmare, and he would need to be the one to make it right. For now she would drive the loaner home, make some lemonade, sit out in her lawn chair and watch the stars on this warm evening.
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