Early this week, I believe me and my family became officially middle-class. We traded in my 2001 Honda Civic with the bad mojo and used the trade-in and tax money we overpaid last year to buy a new vehicle. Isn’t that freakish? My parents only ever had a new car when someone gave it to them as a wedding present back in 1966. My great aunt Louise gave them a 1969 Dodge Dart, which my parents kept running against all odds until I was out of high school in 1985. They probably spent upwards of a billion dollars on repairs over the years, but somehow that didn’t seem as wasteful to them as purchasing a new car. I believe this was based on some sort of mind-set of children of people who lived through the great depression. The only reason they moved on from the Dodge Dart back in the 80’s was because my mom’s parents gave them an old Oldsmobile boat of a car. I remember my dad having to work the engine on that car with some duct tape on our way to a funeral one morning, which we all eventually made, but about an hour and a half late.
The Olds finally gave way to the only car they ever really purchased on their own, for $11K, cash, about six years ago. We went with them to a used car dealership in Rockville, MD and my husband haggled with a salesman for THREE HOURS until they gave us a good price for the Toyota Camry my parents wanted. It wasn’t new, it wasn’t pretty, but they didn’t have to do any of the negotiating, and they had saved up the money to get the car outright. A very un-American way to buy a car, actually, no monthly payments.
After my little Civic almost died on I-95 back in February, I was too spooked to take it, especially with the girls in the back, back on the highway. That day I realized how small we were compared to everyone else on the road. I hate to say it, but I wanted a tank. Something that would at least take me up to the same level as the other maniacs on the road, but would also provide some real protection against accident injury. The Civic was a great car for just me, but there is no such thing as just me anymore. So now we have a Honda Element. Lots of steel re-enforcement to chauffeur my daughters safely from point A to point B. I also now feel prepared to flee to the hills in our little tank when Armageddon finally arrives.