I am becoming more and more convinced that the modern automobile is a tool of the devil.
Of course, we all know that the mobility offered by the gas guzzling monsters of metal has led to the disintegration of the concepts of neighborhood and family. In many places, the morning commute is a celebration of individualism, with people (including myself) locked in caskets of plastic worshipping to the sounds of the morning drive time zoo crew, somehow thinking that we both invulnerable and invisible behind our walls of glass. I won’t bother to go into the impact of the automobile on the environment, or how the auto industry has contributed greatly to the culture of consumerism in their attempts to define personal status and well being by the cars that we drive.
Then of course, the dang things break down.
Okay, so the Caravan (the bane of cool for an American male) has 119,000 miles on it. Yes, I recognize that I don’t take care of it like I should (who has the time?). But given the amount of money we pay for these things, I expect them to work.
Why is it that the auto industry hasn’t followed the trend of almost every other consumer product: the price drops with the invention of new technology? Oh, some purists will say that the prices have remained relatively stable, but if we can reduce the price of a DVD player from $1,000 in the beginning to $35 today, shouldn’t it be possible to design a vehicle that is reliable, safe, and cheap? Apparently not.
So, I took the Caravan (the vehicle that crimps my style but allows the kids to spread out and trash up) to the shop today. The brakes were beginning to make some noise, and I have discovered that I have to replace the brakes on this thing about every 30,000 miles (luckily, Firestone sold me a lifetime brake service package, so after five or six brake jobs, I actually am turning a profit on paper). It sat around all day before they could get to it, and then, a few minutes ago, I got the fateful call.
“Jay, this is Jason at Firestone…” (It’s always a bad sign when you are on a first name basis with the guy at the repair shop, for it means that you have seen each other WAY too much).
“Okay Jason, what is the damage?”
“Well your brakes need replacing, but you knew that, and its covered.”
“Okay, but that hitch in your voice suggests that something else is wrong.”
“Uh . . . well . . . um . . .”
He goes on to tell me that the tie rods are shot and have to be replaced ($300+), that the slop in the tie roads has led the two front tires to wear out ($100+), and that the belts are glazed and need replacing (something I had expected since they had started to squeal a bit ($100). There is also the oil change that I had specified, so all of the sudden I am looking at having to put $600+ bucks into a car that’s only worth a couple of thousand at most.
Part of the problem is that I purchased a Chrysler product. I knew better. My father used to drive the cars of the MOPAR star, and they seem to be pre-programmed to die at 100,000 miles. I knew I really needed to save my dimes and nickels and get a Toyota or a Honda instead. But we really needed a larger vehicle for vacations, and I knew that we could probably never afford a Toyota or Honda van, so in a moment of weakness I let myself be seduced with the possibility that Chrysler had changed, that they really didn’t mean it before, and that they had repented of their past sins. After all, isn’t that what Lee Iacocca brought to the company?
I suppose I ought to start looking for another vehicle rather than putting the money into this one. But I don’t have the time nor energy to take on another car search. Yes, my car and I have a dysfunctional relationship, but at least its comfortable. I won’t have to learn a new way of being, nor have to take on a new role in the family system. It’s unhealthy, leading to stress, but it’s familiar.
So, put very simply, I really hate cars.
“So ride the bus,” I can hear some saying.
In Nashville? Really? You don’t know what you are saying.
Yes, I live in a land where a car is required for anyone who has to make money to provide for the family. It isn’t a luxury, but a necessity.
Car owners, submit to your cars as to the Lord. For the car is the head of the car owner as Marty is the head of the dealership, his tool, of which he is the Owner. Now as the dealership submits to Marty, so also car owners should submit to their cars in everything.
Cars, love your owners, just as Marty loved the dealership and gave himself up for it to make it profitable by the selling of lemons through shifty words, and to present her to himself as a radiant dealership, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but profitable and blameless. In this same way, cars ought to love their owners as their own engines. He who loves his owner loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own engine, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Marty does the dealership— for we are members of his corporation. “For this reason a car will leave his factory and dealership and be united to his owner, and the two will become one.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about cars and owners. However, each one of you also must love his owner as he loves himself, and the owner must respect her car.