2018-10-05 / Commentary

The New Car Disadvantage


After 25 long years, I finally broke down and got another new car.

I like to think I got myself one cool ride, but after driving around a very- used, 14- year- old minivan for so many years, the bar wasn’t exactly set too high. I’m pretty sure I could have gotten a moped and my status would have been upgraded a bit, but I got a Subaru Outback instead.

I’ve been eyeing this car for a while. I love its sport-utility feel without the disadvantages of bad gas mileage and trouble fitting into tight parking spots...both issues shared with my minivan.

Of course when I brought it home, my son immediately opined, “You got a station wagon?”

Honestly, I didn’t know he knew what a station wagon was. I haven’t seen any of the ones lately that used to crowd highways in the ’70s...those metallic green tanks on wheels with unfortunate wood paneling.

I can still remember my T-ball teammates and I piling into one of those things with our post-game Cokes and Snickers bars. We’d fight for the very back—basically the trunk of the wagon— so we could be the obnoxious kids making faces and hand gestures at the cars behind us. And if you could get an 18-wheeler to blow its horn...well that was just pure gold. More importantly, if you could make it all the way home riding backwards in that station wagon’s trunk space without getting sick, then you’d really accomplished something.

That’s how I remember station wagons. My son doesn’t have a clue. My Outback may technically be a wagon...but it ain’t no station wagon. The only wood paneling it comes close to is in my garage.

Having settled that debate, there are some disadvantages to having a new car.

For starters, the paranoia can be overwhelming.

One thing I did not worry about with the minivan was some clueless driver trying to finish his text message while weaving through traffic on Trenholm Road. If he hit the minivan, then I would have just collected the insurance and called it a day.

Now I’m driving around like some paranoid mental patient, and I want to cover my new car in bubble wrap.

I also had no problem treating my old van like a garbage can. I tried to keep it somewhat clean, but most times it looked like it had been on a 40- day road trip. I mean, was it really going to make much difference if it was a clean 14-year-old minivan?

Now I actually clap my feet together to clear sand and dirt before I get in the car. I treat this new car like it’s an operating room. You could eat off the seats, but I’m not letting any food anywhere near this thing. I’m afraid I’ve turned into Monica from “Friends.”

So needless to say, any coolness I may have gained from moving from the minivan has been replaced by an obsessive-compulsive nervous disorder.

That’s OK. That new car smell won’t last forever, and I’ll get to relax again.

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