“A New Car!” Part-2

Click here for part-1.


In 2004 I purchased (via a whole lot of debt) a Honda Element. Unfortunately, the salesman was brand new to the job. He told me I could get the car in blue, that it was located on another lot – he lied! After hours at the dealership and well into the paperwork I saw the word “green” designating the vehicle’s color. I questioned the sales rep. “I thought you said I was getting blue?” He told me that he was mistaken and that green was the only color available. I was extremely disappointed. Still, I signed on the dotted line. Why?

I was impatient. I had already decided in my mind that I was driving away in the car that I wanted. I envisioned “a boy and his dog” taking tons of camping and road trips, going to the beach and hauling my bike around.


Unfortunately, just like the salesman, my story was a lie. I rehomed my dog, rarely went camping, and didn’t take a single road trip (at least no trip that couldn’t have been achieved in the vehicle I traded in). I took a job that required lots of highway travel. This accrued many unnecessary miles and “swilled” (to drink something greedily or to excess; guzzle) lots of gas (try flying an airplane shaped like a toaster and see how long you remain airborne).

It didn’t take long for the Honda to receive many battle scars – from intentional scratches, induced by delinquents, to rocks cracking the windshield, to bad drivers (not that I am blameless, for I punctured the rear bumper last year).

In any event, the car got old and dirty and I was comfortable with this – too comfortable. While I firmly believe in being humble and modest as to material possessions, I also believe in cleanliness and good order. I believe in quality craftsmanship and maintenance. Cleaning out my car for the last time caused me to realize that I had been toting around “junk” for years! This was an embarrassing moment of self-awareness and a catalyst for change. Do I really need a map in my car? Do I really need a small fire extinguisher? Do I really need that extra plastic spoon or highlighter? Do I need floss in my glove box? When do I ever use these things?

It was a fantastic vehicle for its consistent performance and reliability and I recommend Honda to anyone. I abandoned my plan to drive her until the wheels fell off and made the call to take a preemptive strike as a preventative measure. For me, she represented something I didn’t really want from the beginning and now that she was showing signs of fatigue it was time to spend money either way.

I chose a new car, new make, new model, new mode of power – electricity. (I’m sure you can guess the generic questions I get.)

Here are three things you should know about electric cars:

(1)  They are scary smooth. Test drive one of these and you are likely to get hooked. They are quiet…reeeeaaaallllyyy quiet. After three days I still have trouble telling if it is running. It is truly a delight to drive. The immediate response time is amazing – no more waiting for combustion! If you prefer to quickly scoot around Sunday drivers this technology will be most satisfying.

(2)  If you drive your vehicle until the gas tank is on empty, then this is definitely not the type of car for you. If you forget to charge your phone at night, don’t even think about electric. You will want to plug your car in every day just like a phone. The benefit of fuel savings will be replaced with the “burden” of charging. All the time you save NOT doing oil changes will be spent at charging stations.

(3) Don’t expect to travel across the country. In fact, don’t expect to go far at all – in some cases that might mean the next big city. Your potential distance will be cut to a small fraction of what it is now. If you like to “get up and go” with no aim or forethought….you guessed it, not the car for you. (Unless of course, you are willing to trade a mortgage for a Tesla, which offers respectable mileage per charge). There are plenty of charging stations in the urban environments but if the back country is your thing – good luck.

(4)  It’s good for the environment (and when I say environment I mean lungs – nothing worse than a face full of exhaust when I’m out for a run). I happen to believe that climate change is not the senior ranking threat facing mankind. But, since I’m in a position to contribute to a positive movement, why not?

Number three listed above will take some getting used to. But I’m okay with that. I stopped telling myself a lie that I need a car to travel to “who knows where”. I hate traffic. I go to work and come home and do my thing. I go down to the beach for my run and have a couple of nature spots to sit and read or reflect. That’s all I need. While writing this, my wife (ironically) told me that she’s sitting in traffic. Why is there traffic?  Because there is a whole society on four wheels without limitations. Have you ever stopped to think how your life would change if we all had to revert to horseback? Life as we know it would be flipped upside down.

THE CHALLENGE:  What lies do you tell yourself? Do you drive a big truck imagining that you will spend most of your time on muddy roads shooting at wildlife? Do you drive a fancy sports car thinking that you will pick up a bunch of “chicks” (or dudes – more on that word later)? Do you sink a bunch of money into a car so you can “eventually” race it? Is your garage occupied with a fixer-upper that you will “one day” make look brand new?

If you do what you love, great! If not, stop believing your own false narrative. This applies to everything, not just cars. Get your story straight, then get your surroundings straight.

Images tactically acquired from Car Buzz

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