Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One Car, Two Years, Three People

For the past two years, we've been a one-car family. It's not been easy driving to the train and baseball and work and repeat. I wish I could say our decision to own one car was eco-driven, our own personal statement about sustainability and green. It's not. It based on cowardice. My husband and I cannot stand dealing with car salesmen. Or car sales ladies. Either one.

For my husband, I think it has to do with his upbringing. His father owned an auto parts shop growing up and he spent his summers stripping engines and foraging for car parts. He got hit in the face with a dolly and split his nose open. He drove a forklift off a cliff (or large hill). He sweated through many North Carolina summers, cursing under his breath. He did say it was a slight improvement over working in a tobacco warehouse.

For me, it's that I've never really been a "car" person. Or maybe I never got over my first car. When I was 16 years-old, my dad bought a red Triumph convertible - TR6. I think he actually bought it for himself, but at some point realized that when you're 6' 4", the TR6 is not the optimal driving car. Unfortunately for my dad, that car was a stick shift and I wrecked the transmission. And that was all she wrote. 

I know. Youth is wasted on the young.

When I went to college, I lived in New Orleans. I took the streetcar, hitched (yes I'm an idiot) and my roommate had a car. Then I spent a year studying in Paris and taking the Métro. Mais oui. When I worked in Manhattan, I took Metro-North. All along I had this car my parents bought me. It was a blue Volkswagen Golf that I got when we were living in Massachusetts. It had no A/C. Now when you're living in Massachusetts, that will probably work. When you move to New Orleans or Raleigh, that will not work. The Blue Bunny as I called her eventually died in North Carolina after 12 years of loyal service. Boy did I go through some hot summers.

My next car was a Volvo station wagon I bought from my friend Amy. It had 178,000 miles on it. Again no A/C, no air bags or other modern safety features. On a positive note, it only cost me $1,500. I drove that car back and forth from Cisco in RTP for a couple of years. Then I got married. I got pregnant. And we needed a car. A real car with air bags and seatbelts that worked. We traded in our old Volvo for a shiny new Volvo sedan. It was awesome. We even leased it through the business, so it was sort of like a free car. When the lease was up, we turned her in. 

At Least My Car Doesn't Have an 8-Track

By that time, my dad had sold us one of his old Jeeps. Then he gave me my grandma's Jeep when she wasn't allowed to drive anymore. I'm thankful he gave me that car because the car she had before was a pale yellow, gigantor Caddy with Al Hirt stuck in the 8-track player. Slowly but surely those two Jeeps died and my husband and I were faced with the ugly truth. We needed a car. From like a dealership. We were going to have to negotiate.

We test drove a few cars including a sensible Subaru Forester. Ultimately, we bought a Volkswagen Tiguan. Get it? It's like a Tiger and an Iguana, in the same car. My husband swore he wouldn't buy a VW, but they are nice cars to drive. Have we had problems? Yes. You betcha. That's the nature of cars. That's why I hate cars. They're so needy. It's always, "I need oil. There's no air in my tires." Such high maintenance. 

As often as possible, I drive the scooter my husband bought me for Christmas about 10 years ago. Not a terribly practical vehicle for New England. But I love my scooter. It's a Yamaha Vino. It's silver. I have a shiny red helmet and a horn.

My dream car is a dark blue Porsche 911 Carrera convertible. As a kid, we lived in LA briefly and my dad had a friend in La Cañada. One day my dad and I followed him to his house, trailing behind him in his Porsche 911 Carrera. Maybe I'm dreaming this but I think it really happened. I remember that beautiful car, the mountains in the distance and the feeling of being in LA.

I guess when you are finally able to buy a Porsche, there's not a lot of haggling that goes on. Or maybe the haggling gets worse? We shall see.

1 comment:

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