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!
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,