Everyone Should Own A Crappy Car

I’m not trying to sound like an old curmudgeon, but I’m not sure kids these days know the value of a dollar. In my day, way back in the nineties, minimum wage was five dollars an hour and the hot ovens at Pizza Hut made sure you earned every penny. Oh, the minimum wage job. Do kids even bother with those anymore? A coworker of mine said that one of his kids’ friends was making $25/hour to babysit. Babysit! Is he KIDDING? That’s an outrage! Oh sure, but it was for two children. And they were twins. And the parents didn’t even leave any good snacks. Well. I STAND CORRECTED.

I just think everyone ought to pay their dues, you know? There’s a lot of truth to not being able to appreciate something until you’ve had to work for it. Of course, some people will just sail through life and never experience any hardship. But I don’t begrudge them. My theory is that God knows they can’t really handle anything more, that their character isn’t strong enough to endure very difficult circumstances. But as a friend of mine used to say about her trials, “FINE. I won’t ever find the man of my dreams or get that great job, but at least I have loads of character. THAT’S ALMOST AS GOOD.”

My personal (and practical) belief is that every person should, at one time in their life, own a really crappy vehicle. One that embarrasses you in front of your friends, that makes banging sounds when you round a corner, that requires prayer every time you put the key in the ignition and that takes mighty biceps to turn the wheel.

I’ve had a couple of crappy cars. First, my grandma’s old  ’79 Malibu that could fit fifteen of my friends and only had AM radio. Then, the ’83 Rabbit that I had to enter through the passenger side and that, over the course of four years had every part replaced. EVERY PART. Then came the ’93 Golf (I was moving up in the world) that couldn’t keep out the rain to save its life. But I guess that’s my fault since I didn’t specifically pay for that option.

So when I finally got my one-year-old Acura several years ago, it was heaven. I have never once crossed my fingers before turning over the engine. I never monitor the hood for smoke. I don’t have to roll down all the windows in the middle of winter to de-fog. I stay dry EVERY TIME IT RAINS. I love it.

Now my husband and I have another, newer car that better accommodates a child. And I promise you I am still grateful each and every time I can listen to music and use the A/C. I have not once pretended to tie my shoelaces at a stop light.

Those rich babysitters will never really understand that, will they? Poor kids. In a few years I’ll be selling the Acura and by that time it, too, will be an education on wheels. The parents of my future customer can thank me later.


Filed under People, Things

7 responses to “Everyone Should Own A Crappy Car

  1. Lisa

    I love this. An old car is a great education even if you find yourself mysteriously without brakes, or sliding down a snowy hill on your way to your (crappy) job. All these things can teach so much. Yeah for character-building!

  2. john

    Laura: not “everyone” Myself have never owned a crappy car. I prefer to own a team of Horses the by product is good for the garden not like a gas guzzling Detroit special. Now that disapline (sic)

  3. I’ve never owned a crappy car. Instead, I took the bus. Now THAT is crappy and embarrassing. When I finally graduated from university I’d saved enough money to buy a brand-new Honda Civic, that I’m still driving 10 years later. I appreciate that I don’t have to walk 3 blocks and wait in the rain to get someplace in it.

    As for the ‘rich’ babysitters, we do need to keep inflation in mind. I used to make $20-$25 / night to babysit a couple of kids. But that was 20+ years ago. While $25 an hour sounds, if you correct for the intervening decades it’s not SO out of line.

  4. Igo

    hELLarious !
    E v e r y o n e. And have a horrible girlfriend to appreciate decent wife, live in some wrecked cottage to grasp better sense when buying a condo with running hot water and more… One should spend some time on the moon to appreciate all the greens on Earth and every outer-space alien should have been born at least once on the crappy bluish planet only to appreciate to its fullness being the race that has nothing to do with Earthlings.

    E v e r y o n e !

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