So What if I’m Not a Car Person?

my first car

A few days ago, I was walking through a shopping mall when I saw a shiny new car on display in the middle of the aisle. My gut went into panic mode for about half a second, but it was followed by a half second of relief when I reminded myself that I was not in “car shopping” mode anymore.

After many months of being on the lookout for a car, I still hadn’t fully shaken the sense of dread and pressure that I constantly felt throughout the information gathering phase. Fortunately, that was all behind me as I has recently signed and sealed a deal on a new car.

When people ask me what kind of car I drive, I often joke and say, “A blue one”, because that’s truly about as interested as I am in talking about cars.

It’s not like back in the 1970’s, while watching The Price is Right, this pre-teen could tell a car’s make, brand, model and actual retail price just from its grill, its hood ornament or its shape, long before the big doors finished opening.

Back then, compact cars, sports cars and luxury cars each had their unique style and you could quite easily tell them apart. But today, many cars look pretty similar to me, so it’s a little hard to get excited about them from the exterior.

Don’t get me wrong, throughout the shopping process, I reminded myself frequently to count my blessings over how fortunate I was to be in a position shop for a car. But when I went to pick up my new car, even my salesman noticed that I was unusually calm.

The reality is that to me, a car is a means of transportation. It gets me from point A to B. It gets me to and from work. It gets me to and from my favourite activities. It allows me to run errands more conveniently. It’s a vehicle I use for hauling 15 kg bags of kitty litter or 96-roll packs of toilet paper. For me, a car is a practical undertaking.

But in contrast, my very first car held a great deal of emotional attachment, as a symbol of freedom, a symbol of independence and even as a sign of being on my way up in the world, with my first major purchase as an adult. My first car meant never again having to ask to borrow the car. It was my car, my terms, my life!

But at this stage of life, trading in a 7-year-old car with a moderate amount of mileage (before the start of a wave of more expensive repairs) certainly brings with it peace of mind. But sadly, I’ve been more excited about shoes, kitchen appliances, electronics and gluten-free club sandwiches.

For me, on the fun scale, car transactions and car maintenance rank somewhere between dental surgery and colonoscopies. For a sensitive guy who doesn’t like confrontation, car transactions have been a source of anxiety for me.

I admit I have been further jaded by the mechanical issues that can arise later in a car’s life, and being presented with repair bills in the four digit$ that I just didn’t see coming.

While I don’t mind surprises that involve cake, blowing out candles and a few rounds of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”, mechanical surprises have made it hard to stay in love with my car. Since then, I have kept my car at an arm’s length relationship.

My lack of enthusiasm for my new car was to the point of wondering if there was something wrong with me.

Maybe I have watched too many game shows over the years, for my subconscious to think screaming, dancing and performing cartwheels over a new car is a mandatory ritual. Maybe it’s the fact that some days, it feels like every other commercial on TV is about cars. Maybe it’s the fact that cars are often thought of as routine cocktail party conversation.

Once I opened up and started asking a few close friends and colleagues if it was just me, I was most relieved to find out that I was not alone.

Even though it wasn’t a scientific study, the varying degrees of excitement over vehicles are as different as the people who shared their views with me.

Whether it was because they don’t get attached to “things”, whether it was because they are on their 10th car, whether it was because they think of vehicles in practical terms such as a child and pet taxi, whether it was the depreciation factor, or whether they bristled at the thought of negotiating a deal, the reasons were very personal.

But I was reassured that it wasn’t just me who thought, “It’s just a car.”

I fully appreciate that cars are an important industry that creates many jobs, cars help us to get around in our sprawling cities, cars allow us to travel, and some people love cars more than they do gluten-free club sandwiches. Cars remain a symbol of freedom and of independence which help feed our natural curiosity to see more of the world.

For some, cars are a symbol of success and status. Everyone sees cars differently, and that’s OK.

Cars are great and have helped me to save a lot of time, to cross things off my bucket list and to see things I wouldn’t have been able to see through other means of transportation. And I must confess, for someone whose hands are considered refrigeration devices, the heated steering wheel on the new car is a stroke of genius!

But if my excitement factor over a new car doesn’t register on the Richter scale, it’s not because my car isn’t important to me. Far from it! It’s just that after 36 years of driving, the novelty has worn off a bit.

To all those passionate car people, you have my deepest respect and admiration. It’s thanks to you that cars have evolved in the way that they have, and that you have helped raised the bar in terms of car features, car safety and of their infinite possibilities. Thank you!

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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50 Reasons to Love Music

1- Music can pick up a listener’s mood when they’re feeling down.
2- Music can help a listener to relax when they’re feeling wound up.
3- Music can help set the mood for any activity.
4- In the morning, the right song can help set the pace for the whole day.
5- The right music can make traffic jams more bearable.
6- The right background music can make a movie a masterpiece.
7- A game show would not be as much fun if it didn’t have the right background music.
8- A horror movie would not be as enjoyable without the appropriate background music.
9- Music is a great conversation starter.
10- Music makes people want to move.
11- Music makes exercise more fun. Continue reading

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Cinema through the Eyes of a Writer

This past summer, when most of my television programs wrapped up for the season, I decided to replace my TV time with the simple pleasure of enjoying a big bowl of popcorn and catching up on my movie bucket list.

There have been times over the years when life got in the way of seeing everything I wanted to in the theatre, and I am OK with that. When I missed one, I usually said to myself, “It’s just a movie.”

But more recently, I have picked up a renewed interest not only in that list of missed movies but old classics as well.

At this point in my life, it’s a whole new ball game. In my 50’s, I know I have a greater sense of appreciation for the artistic effort behind any movie. I also bring to the table a greater ability to admire the masterpiece in its intricate detail.

Plus, in looking ahead to my next career as a writer, I have to admit that the appetite is there to go through as many movies as possible to see what common denominators come up that make a movie work. Continue reading

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The Halloween Candy Calculations

With Halloween just around the corner, two questions that seems to be increasingly on our minds are “How many Halloween treats will we need?” and “Is it too early to buy?”

When I was growing up, I don’t recall there being much debate. The number seemed generally stable from year to year. When the neighbourhood’s teens felt they were getting too old to be trick or treating, younger kids were replacing them. And if I remember correctly, 60 to 70 kids seemed to be the norm for many years. When it came to Halloween, it was suburban stability.

Also, back then, Halloween candy didn’t grace our store shelves until after the “Back-to-school” season was over… when kids were back at school. I don’t recall any retail shenanigans of having Halloween candy on the shelves a couple of weeks into the summer break.

In the couple of weeks leading up to Halloween, Mom would buy 60-70 treats. On Halloween night, most (if not all) of the treats would be distributed. The end.

But that hasn’t been the case recently. Continue reading

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50 Reasons Why I Love Having a Cat in My Life

1. For a cat, life is pretty simple.
2. She doesn’t linger about the past.
3. She doesn’t worry about the future.
4. She lives in the moment.
5. She is a constant reminder about keeping things in perspective.
6. She reminds me not to sweat the small stuff.
7. She doesn’t judge me… or at least, I don’t think she does.
8. Transporting those 33 lb bags of kitty litter keeps me fit.
9. The loud meowing greeting I get when I get home from work is always a treat! It could be that maybe she’s just hungry and wants her food now, but I hear “I missed you” in every meow.
10. When I come home from work and I need to make the immediate transition to cat dad, it helps me to leave the office at the office. Continue reading

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When Did Taking Turns Go Out of Style?

“Could I help the next person in line?” the cashier yelled as she opened her checkout line.

I was the next person in line.

But before I had time to take my three small items off the conveyor belt, the two people behind me had scurried over to the new checkout line like rats running with a slice of pizza in a New York subway.

I had no opportunity to take my rightful place in the line of the new checkout.

Still, I stood there horrified. Compounded by the aggressiveness and determination with which the two people behind me jumped over, I wasn’t sure if I was witnessing a scene at a grocery store or a National Geographic special featuring lions closing in on their prey.

Back when I was a kid, that offence would have been worthy of a time-out and one or two weeks’ allowance. As well, it would have been compounded with a guilt trip started by a long glare with disappointed eyes and a suspiciously calm, “Didn’t I raise you better than that?”

I’ll never forget those times… wonderful childhood memories!

But also, important life lessons.

Yet, on a daily basis, the underlying “Me first, and screw everybody else” self-entitled attitude bewilders me. I see it on the roads, I see it in malls, I see it on vacation… I see it pretty much everywhere. Continue reading

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50 Reasons to Love a Good Book

1. A good book can pick you up when you’re feeling down.
2. A good book can help you relax when you’re feeling wound up.
3. A good book can help you get to sleep, on a sleepless night.
4. A good book can be the perfect diversion when you experience racing thoughts.
5. A good book can help you feel centred and in the moment.
6. A good book can make you laugh, make you cry, everything in between, and all of the above.
7. A good book can be the perfect companion on a rainy or snowy day when you don’t want to go out.
8. A good book can draw out strong emotions.
9. A good book can teach you something you didn’t know.
10. A good book can keep you on the edge of your seat.
11. A good book can make you laugh.
12. A good book can be a guilty pleasure.
13. A good book can be hard to put down.
14. A good book can be so compelling, you can’t wait to pick it up again.
15. A good book can be so compelling, you’re sad when it ends. Continue reading

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