Early in 2006, my ’92 Ford Escort was dying, so my brother very kindly sold me his low-mileage ’98 Honda Accord. He was concerned that something might go wrong with the car soon after he sold it to me, so he gave me a $500 guarantee — basically, I paid him $6000, but he promised to give me $500 back if something significant went wrong with the car in the next 6 months.
But nothing went wrong, and we were both happy. I drove that car for another 120,000 miles, with help from Joshua and Daniel, rather haphazardly replacing the tires, windshield wipers, and brakes. I figure I spent another $2000 on the car over the intervening nine years, before one of Daniel’s classmates rear-ended him about 10 days ago. When the dust settled, the other driver’s insurance company decided to total the car and promised to pay me $3800 as replacement value.
Not bad — 3.5 cents per mile, not counting fuel costs. I think I can live with that.
Tomorrow the salvage company comes to take the car away, and it is very sad. Daniel and I have become attached to that little car — our respective identities are (in some mystical way) bound up with that little car.
Now both Daniel and I are in the market for a new (or, more likely used) car, and maybe new identities as well. I have my eye on a sleek, almost-new red Camry, that I think I will purchase later this week. But what will Daniel buy?
Since the insurance company is being so generous to me, I’m sharing some of the ‘profit’ with Daniel, to get him started on his first car. But this is contingent on getting a new job, so he’s beating the bushes for work, again.
In my opinion, a young man needs to have a beat-out, old car, to properly reflect his financial and social position, and to motivate him to remedy that condition. I think a young man with a fancy car could be prone to having a rather inflated view of his own importance — not a good long-term strategy.
My first car was a 1974 Datsun B210 — I paid $380 for it in 1988. It was very dilapidated, and the floorboards had rusted through so that you could watch the lane stripes as you changed lanes. The previous owner had put down pieces of wood to take the place of the floorboards, but the fit was imperfect. If you hit a large puddle, the passenger’s legs would be drenched to the knees — for some reason, people rarely asked me for a ride more than once.
The brakes on the Datsun required two or three pumps in order to work, and the exhaust system was held together with chewing gum and a prayer. One of the pins was broken on the passenger door, so if you opened it all the way, it would rest on the ground. It was a great little car, and it reflected my financial and social status very accurately.
Sadly, I wrecked the Datsun on a bridge abutment in the middle of an ice storm, on my way to Phil and Deb Dickerson’s wedding. What kind of a car will Daniel buy, I wonder?
Project 365, Day 34