04 August 2004 - 9:39 AM
I've been developing a theory about auto ownership. It's still quite rough, but it goes something like this:
The kind of vehicle you drive should not be based on your ability to make the down payment (or pay the insurance). Instead, it should be based on a series of objective criteria having to do with your need for cargo space, past record of caring for (and not wrecking) vehicles, and your ability to drive the machine well and appropriately.
I have not worked out sufficient detail on this theory to be able to say what car I should be driving, but I suspect I would rate higher than my current transport, a brown '89 Tercel.
(Since I am now driving further to work than the Viking, he is taking the less-fuel-efficient Jeep and I am driving the more economical car. I should not complain about the Tercel. It is as reliable as anything, gets pretty decent gas mileage, and is paid for. Still, it's a 15-year-old brown two-door. Ugh).
Contrariwise, the guy driving the silver BMW convertible who slammed on the brakes and crawled around every curve of the winding back road the other day would be demoted to, oh, I don't know . . . maybe an '89 Tercel. Clearly he had no business operating a German sports car.
My little theory would also end the problem of high school students driving nicer cars than their teachers -- a thing about which I suppose I should no longer care, since I'm no longer teaching, but it did peeve me greatly. I had students whose parents bought them $50,000 vehicles (Acuras, BMWs, Lexi), sometimes repeatedly, if they wrecked them. Meanstwhile, what did the Viking and I have? An '88 Jeep and an '89 Toyota.
The sorts of people who can afford to spend $50,000 on a car will probably object to my plan on the grounds that if they can afford it, they ought to be able to have it. Pish-tosh. If you're slamming on the brakes and crawling around the curves, you clearly aren't really enjoying your expensive car, and if you don't enjoy it, why spend $50,000 on it? Get a nice reliable used car and spend the remaining $40,000 on something worthwhile -- your childrens' college funds, charitable donations, something. If you find that the nice reliable used car simply doesn't thrill you, well, then consider making yourself worthy of something that does.
You could start by learning to merge.