so keep your ergonomic chair i don’t care what my seating is || they don’t love you like i love you

22 February 2009

every car a murder, every bicycle a love affair


well, i bit the bullet. after going carless nearly into my 30th year, the death of cc’s jeep on our recent beach trip made it clear to me that i enjoy being able to travel outside the city at a moment’s notice, and as a minted man of means i should step up to the plate to enable that rather than just mooching off others.

i’ve always had a bit of a love affair with cars. presumably i got it from my father, a consummate dickerer and deal-hunter; he would routinely spend his sunday afternoons poring over the thrifty nickel and the columbian classifieds with a literal magnifying glass looking for his next automotive adventure. he went through a variety of cars: a beater pinto, a bronco, a corvette stingray, and even a big dump truck repainted with leftover house paint. eventually the state caught up with him and demanded he register as a car dealer. instead, he switched his focus to classic ford tractors, painstakingly rebuilding them into fine showpieces.

in college i ended up working for the now-defunct autoadvisor, riding my bike there every day while my coworkers sold people on the american dream. the owner and his wife were both auto writers, and a system exists by which auto writers can have a new car to test drive every week. a steady stream of vehicles came through, each one getting a thorough testing (sometimes with unawares employees riding shotgun) and the office was filled with a steady buzz of car information and – other than myself and evilmike – car aficionados. i was always happy to talk shop with people, though i’d not had a license (and did not get one until 2005), i was excited to research new (or used) purchases and ponder what sort of car i’d end up with.

it turns out the answer isn’t that surprising: a car that i can use for the things i think a car is good at. i’m not going to be driving to the supermarket or around greenlake or to work. i’m not even going to be driving downtown and circling the block looking for parking. my bicycle is always better for those situations. but when it comes to weekend adventures it’s tough to beat a car – unless you want to spend most of your weekend (or more) just going out and back the car is the key that fits the lock of the american transportation system.

but to the gritty details: i got a 1999 subaru outback. it’s got 95,000 miles on it, and the previous owner was a little old lady that took it back to the same dealership she bought it at to change the oil every 3000 miles. when i was evaluating it the dealership gave me a printout the car’s lifetime service record – and it’s clear that this woman was thorough. she brought it to be serviced at the dealer when she spilled soda on the passenger seat. at $9500 after sales tax and licensing it’s the most expensive single item i own, and the most money i’ve spent in one day since i graduated college. my goal is to put about seven or eight thousand miles on it a year, and it’ll mostly live at cc’s house since i still dislike driving. i’m thinking of putting a little chauffeur’s hat in the glove compartment.