Wheels of my logic go 'round and 'round

I went three months without a car. I dared myself to do it and I did it.

In concept, it was a great idea. We’d save money having only one car payment. Our insurance would shrink. We could shop around and save for the right new car at our leisure. And with gas prices at these rates, it seemed like an economical plan:

AP photo/Jeff Chiu/ stolen from:www.americanprogress.org

 

In concept, I like to walk and to accomplish a lot of simple errands on foot rather than waste gas. In concept, I am a mature, rational adult.

In reality, going without a car for three months had its drawbacks. While I did tone my legs and get a lot of sun, I somehow equated these things with full-out exercise.

In reality, by the time I got my butt back into the driver’s seat, it had actually expanded. Turns out with my 40-something metabolism, one hour of brisk walking a day did nothing to burn the robust intake of food I preceeded and followed each walk with.

In reality, our only car — my husband’s work car and my back-up when needed — was totaled a week after the one-car program was enacted. Thereby voiding the whole deal of paying off Car A and saving for Car B.

In reality, all my bragging about shopping, running errands and meeting friends via walking all summer was no match for all the complaining I did at home.  Just ask the husband, who practically ran to the dealership in September to pick out a second car to shut me the hell up already.

In reality, when you are car-less, you are a pain the ass to everyone who wants to make plans with you. All the logistics of offered rides or asked-for rides, gas money reimbursement, guilt and/or refusal of rides leads to awkwardness. Enough said.

In concept, there are enough alternative methods of getting around without a car.

In reality, not in “The Motor City” which is laid out and designed with car ownership in mind.

In conclusion, absurd as it sounds, I now have a gym membership. I drive to the gym. To lose the weight I gained when I didn’t have a car. I got rid of the car to save money and get in shape. Neither of those things happened.

End of story.

No wheels/new wheels

Tidbit of the day: If you think bringing a wriggling toddler into a car dealership, one prone to squeezing out deadly loads of noxious poop at key moments and tossing crackers at the receptionist’s head will hasten a great deal — think again.

Hoo boy. This living with one car thing hasn’t gone as planned. First, the plan was based on summer weather — sunny, dry days — very few of which we’ve had here this season.
And then there’s this:



Which, in one loud bang, killed our plans to save up for a second car while paying off the first, thereby putting us in a nice financial position.

Shit happens, right? After waiting as patiently as a two-year-old for insurance settlements and then car shopping with a toddler in tow (see above), we’ve found a replacement vehicle:



I won’t say I didn’t wake up in a cold sweat last night realizing I BOUGHT MY FIRST FOREIGN CAR. Kinda felt like the first time I bared my tattoo in front of the mother. Naughty.

This is nearly a mortal sin here in THE MOTOR CITY. The car, not the tattoo.

All my life I rode in American-made cars. All I’ve ever driven are American cars. I come from a UNION FAMILY BACKGROUND.

Slowly, though, I’ve noticed more friends and family members slinking around in foreign models. Friends from out of town don’t think twice about getting a Japanese car.

But what American-made car is truly 100 percent made in America anymore? All have this part and that system produced outside our borders. Even my Pontiac Vibe was a sister vehicle to the Toyota Matrix.

We shopped and we researched and we discussed and labored over this. The American car we wanted we could not get in our price range with what we wanted. Period. The only other options were too freakin’ small for a family of four that travels all the time.

The foreign market was ripe with options for us. In the end the car we found had everything we wanted and more at a very affordable price, good gas mileage and good crash-test ratings. Bottom line, the American car companies are not offering much beyond the behemoth gas guzzlers. Been there, done that. Over it.

So, I should sleep at night, right?

But I may be visited by three ghosts: GM, Ford and Chrysler. To them I say, yeah, exactly, you are ghosts.

Oops!

Remember how I said we were going to be a one-car family? How I was going to take up the cause of saving the world by walking to the grocery store and possibly saving a few spotted owls along the way? Yeah. Well, then this happened:


We were rear-ended on the highway last night coming home from an out-of-town event. In the grand picture of it all, we are so very lucky. It was the kind of accident that could have taken a very bad turn, but we were spared. Our baby girl is fine. My spine feels like a Dutch pretzel but nothing is broken. Our car sustained a butt-kicking.

I’m left with the last vision of our car, strapped to the back of the departing tow truck: bolts and bits bouncing onto the roadway as two loose flaps of plastic and metal waved farewell in the wind. I couldn’t help but bust out laughing.

WTF? You know? Here we are, with all our crap on the side of the road as we wait for a friend to pick us up and get us home. Didn’t feel so independent at that moment.

My other car is a Matchbox

Today I relinquished this:



And now share a car with the husband. I also have a pair of feet, several sturdy backpacks, and one of these:



This is supposed to be temporary. An exploration of my creative spirit, intestinal fortitude and a way to … ahem … built up some savings.

You see, the Jeep was an impulsive act. A Very Expensive Mistake. It was the one-night stand that became the stalker kind of mistake. Fearful of making that mistake again, of picking a vehicle that was just all wrong for me, that looked sexy in the mood lighting of the show room but in daylight became a freak show, I simply avoided car shopping on a serious level.

I’m hoping in the fall to purchase the perfect car. What will it be? My searches so far have come up fairly empty. But maybe not having a car at all will be the perfect motivator. Maybe when the heels of my feet are peeling and bleeding on the pavement, I’ll hobble on over to a car dealership and do some serious field research.

I need fuel efficiency first. I do a lot of driving. There’s no getting around it. I also need space. With two kids and the itch to travel, we need a roof rack and trunk space. We also need fuel efficiency. Did I mention that yet? Oh, yeah, and it needs to be affordable.

The search for the perfect car came up empty, leading us to today, with me handing over the keys to the dealership and walking away on foot, while the salesman watched a commission vaporize before his eyes.

This is something I’ve never done since I became a licensed driver back in the Ronald Reagan administration. The closest I came to this is when I was grounded from using my parents’ car and had to hand over my set of keys.

Follow me as I figure out how to go carless in the Motor City.