I’ve bought more computers than cars, I just calculated. I’m surely not alone, or even exceptional; I can imagine all sorts of urban people who have no use for a car. Just as I know at least two friends who have never owned a computer and probably never will.
But looking at my particular arc, born in the late 50s, high school in the 70s, adulthood coming any day now, I wonder if that particular ratio – cars to computers – aligns with anything. What sort of person, in general, would rack up more silicon than sheet metal?
A young person, I’m thinking. Pretty sure I win. I keep hoping.
Then again, I can think of at least one person I know who probably has the same ratio as I do, and he’s older. But looks younger. Again: Let’s make this thing work for me.
The point here is that I’m not used to buying cars. It’s been eight years since the last time, and that was a pretty simple operation: Find it, write a check, drive away. That was a 1999 Saturn, which had 60,000 miles but hey, we don’t drive that much.
Eight years ago, though, coincided with my wife beginning to commute, just a bit, to Seattle, and then a new church job south of there, and she soon reached 400 miles on the road per week, less in the summer. So while I became less dependent on wheels for anything, she became more.
It’s not like we care. Neither of us has ever been able to work up any passion for cars. Or comic books. Or TV shows where people win prizes. Other stuff. It’s just not there for us. We are beater people, perfectly fine with junky cars that run fine and get us where we’re going. I’ve had actual affection for a couple of cars in my lifetime, one of which I totaled and the other of which was sold right out from under me by my wife on my 35th birthday, so. I’m a little wary of entanglements.
That Saturn rarely gave us trouble, by the way; a few times we put some bucks into it, but considering that maintenance was low (not in a good way) we got our money’s worth. But it failed the latest emission test, and since our mechanic couldn’t figure out why, only that it was dying a slow death, and the thought of putting hundreds of dollars into a car that was approaching 200,000 miles not thrilling anybody, it was time to cut our losses and gain some independence from creakiness.
It’s a different experience. There’s just so much information out there, reviews and ratings and industry feedback and dealer web sites. We knew what we wanted – low mileage, a certain price point, no trash on the floor, otherwise we’re good – and found it, a mile from our house. No way, no how would we buy a metallic blue car with a rear spoiler and sport wheels, but that’s what we did. It’s the first 21st-century car we’ve owned; they’ve made some improvements. And while it’s nowhere near being a beater, and probably a little flashy for old folks, remember that I have that ratio up there to consider. And it’s my wife’s car.