The post I made last week brings up something that has sort of bothered me since I bought the car I drive now. I wonder, had I parked a Chevy in the handicapped spot that day, would that nosy woman even have taken note? Now, I have always LOVED cars. My parents tell me that I could name anything on the road from the time I could speak. I’ve traded cars like kids trade baseball cards, (do they still do that?) and I have resigned myself to the fact that, contrary to every piece of financial advice I’ve ever gotten, I will always have a car payment and I will never drive a car til it’s wheels fall off. I just like cars, and I like getting new and different ones. Everyone has their vices.
The car I have now is, to most anyone you asked, the nicest I’ve ever had. It’s a BMW–fully loaded, shiny, and beautiful. I love how it drives. I love how smooth it is, how fast it is, and how quietly it purrs toward 100 mph (which it will do very easily if the driver isn’t careful.) I even thought I’d like it’s “snob appeal”–after all, I once felt my life would be a complete failure if I didn’t have a Mercedes by the time I turned 30. Maybe I’ve grown up, reprioritized, or simply realized that a person is a lot more than the size of their house, the cost of their car, or the balance on their bank accounts. But having this car makes me uncomfortable.
I’ve mentioned to several people recently that I’d just as soon have myself another Honda. I’m met with blank stares. Darling is aghast that I would even consider “trading down” and my friends laugh at me. But it’s about perceptions. In my mind, if I cut someone off in traffic in this car I’m not just a jerk, I’m a jerk in a BMW (there is a difference, isn’t there?) If I pulled into a tight space in a Honda, those parked next to me might (in my mind) remark that the damned spaces just aren’t wide enough, but in the Bimmer they are saying “Hmmph…guess they think they can just park that thing anywhere they want!”
I feel the need to make excuses for this car. Now, I always get good deals on cars. But for some reason I feel the need to underscore that fact with this one. I’m quick to point out that A. I bought it pre-owned, B. I got a helluva deal on it, and C. my monthly obligation is actually less than I was paying on my previous Honda. I’m fully aware that no one cares if I won it in a raffle or paid 50 grand for it.
The first time I took this car in for service, the dealership gave me a ride back to the office in their shuttle. My conversation with the driver turned to a recent headline I’d read that BMW sales were up last year. He went off into a speech about “our customers aren’t as affected by the downturn.” I was thinking, “Buddy, I’m one of your customers, and I guaran-damn-tee I have been!” Then he went off on a tangent about the renaissance American car makers are having and how he thought it was wonderful because “blue collar workers need something to drive.” At which point I was thinking “Is a damned shuttle driver an executive position now??”
A new acquantaince remarked that “I’ve got a totally different opinion of you now” when he saw my car. Why? Am I not the same person whether I’m on a moped or being chauffered around in a limo? But, he was probably right, all of us form opinions of people based on what they drive, where they live, and what they are wearing. I guess we just can’t help it. I guess I’m just more comfortable in something a little more down to earth.