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Wheel Envy

Posted on 06 September 2008

These last few weeks, I’ve been experiencing car lust. It’s come over me like a sickness, some strange mechanical version of spring fever, and I find myself becoming preoccupied by the existence of cars.

Every time I take the subway, I do a mental calculation — would this be a better trip if I had a car? Trips to the grocery store are so overwhelmed by car thoughts that I forget to buy things like cat food and have to go back. I scan the newspapers, online classifieds and cars I pass for notices of used cars in my price range. My price range is small, almost ludicrously small, which is most of the reason I don’t have a car yet.

I don’t need a car. I’m less than two years out of college, I’m trying to keep my fixed expenses to a minimum, and a car can represent a rather sizable fixed expense. Around the time of college graduation, when I had my job and apartment secured, I mentally ran some numbers on my expenses. The job was good but certainly wouldn’t make me rich, and a bus ran conveniently near to both my apartment and my workplace. I didn’t need a car to go to work. My friends all lived similarly near to public transportation, so I didn’t need a car to facilitate my social life. In fact, having a car might be a liability, because I’d have to watch how much I was drinking if I’d driven wherever I was. Public transportation didn’t run all night, but even if I took taxis I’d still be spending less than I would have on a car. Cars are expensive, what with insurance and the inevitable repairs. I was young and living in a major metropolitan area with good public transportation; a car wasn’t a necessity, and not having a car would enable me to spend my money on other things.

A year and a half later, I’m still young and still living in a major metropolitan area. I’m in a different apartment, but public transportation still gets me to and from my job more effectively than a car would. One or two friends have cars now, and my roommate has a car, and I’ve observed that finding parking in the general area of anywhere we’re likely to go is almost more of a hassle than public transportation. I still can, and do, get anywhere I need to go without having a car of my own.

The problem is, I can’t always get everywhere I want to go.

It’s starting to get warm, and I’m starting to get a touch of wanderlust. I want to go to the beach, I want to drive up into the mountains for no really good reason, I want to go to anywhere that isn’t here. If I had a car, I could just go. The car has taken on symbolic significance, something to do with independence and freedom. A car of one’s own, as it were. I find myself thinking things like, “If I had a car, I could go grocery shopping whether my roommate felt like it or not.” “If I had a car, I could go to the gym after work without having to drag my gym bag with me everywhere I went.” “If I had a car, I wouldn’t be stuck on this subway packed full of drunken college students.” “If I had a car, I’d at least have the option of quitting my job and making a cross-country road trip.”

With all of this in mind, I’ve started cautiously used-car hunting. I saw a ridiculously ugly (but probably indestructible) Honda Civic hatchback for sale while I was walking to the subway the other night. It was a little beat-up looking but definitely in my price range.

It’s unlikely that I’ll quit my job in favor of a cross-country road trip even if I have my own car, but by the time summer actually gets here I’ll at least be able to play hooky from work and go to the beach. A car may not be a necessity, but sometimes a little luxury is required.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Cheap Auto Insurance says:

    for me, a car is a necessity. I can’t live without out. I really love to drive.

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