Function Over Fashion -
How a Car Reflects Function for a Busy Lifestyle
people say that the car you drive is a reflection of yourself.
If that's true, then Im dependable and
on hot days I smell like sour milk. How silly. Anyone will tell
you Im not dependable.
In reality, peoples cars dont reflect their personalities,
just their priorities. Some people use cars to project an image.
Maybe its a crayon-colored sports car that says even someone
of your age can act young and hip. Or maybe its a luxuriously
outfitted SUV that says youre rugged but refined, and
even though youve never been off a main road in your life,
if you wanted, you could drive right up the face of Mount Rushmore
without spilling a drop of bottled water. Or maybe its
a black pickup covered in mud and roaring like a rocket to let
the uptight grownups know that you are bad news; in case there
is any doubt, you hang a terrifying skull-and-crossbones air
freshener from your rear-view mirror.
Then there are people like me, who choose function over form.
Farmers driving hard-used pickup trucks and parents driving
minivans arent trying to get anyones attention.
They both have to haul domesticated creatures of one sort or
another, and theyve chosen the most practical vehicle
for their needs.
look at the outside of my car will tell you that I see it as
little more than a mode of transportation. In fact, in design
and appearance, the car is forgettable in just about every way,
except for an elegant set of three faux-metal hubcaps, two of
which arent even cracked. Even the colornot quite
green, not quite blue, and so dirty it mostly looks grayfails
to excite the eye. I admit its flashier than the economy-silver
finish of my two previous vehicles, but they had a practical
advantage: the duct tape I used to cover up the rust spots blended
cars interior reflects a similar indifference to image.
I choose not to vacuum or dust it, as these are chores that
I can barely handle in my own house. If I start keeping the
car picked up, whats next? Ironing my clothes?
the interest of safety, however, I keep a survival kit on hand
at all times. Never mind that this consists of half-eaten candy
bars, old cough drops, and dirty, balled-up sweatshirts, all
thrown in an apparently random manner around the passenger area.
The point is, if we were somehow stranded, we could find enough
food and warmth to keep us going for days. The poor fool who
keeps a spotless interior will be reduced to wrapping up in
a floor mat and licking Armor-All off the dash until help arrives.
Regardless of its appearance, after 6 years under my ownership,
the car has proven that less is more. No power windows, no tachometer,
not even an interior trunk latch. But with only minimal maintenance,
its never broken down or failed to start. Tune-up costs
have not cut into our retirement savings. And its paid
off. What more could you ask for?
Well, Im sorry to say, a replacement. Its only a
matter of time before this car starts to go. So before the mechanic
starts throwing around terms like CV joints, clutch
assembly, and, God forbid, head gasket, Im
starting the search for a new car (new, of course,
are some tips for my next car salesman: dont even mention
terms like spoilers or bucket seats.
Say 36 miles per gallon and Im yours. Forget
leather upholstery; give me something that hides melted chocolate
bar stains. And instead of trying to wow me with muscle, keep
in mind that Ive survived 16 Vermont winters with four
cylinders and front-wheel drive. If the weather gets so bad
that I need an assault vehicle, Ill happily stay home.
Ill always steer toward reliability and low maintenance
costs, I do hope my next car has more style than the nondescript,
getaway-car look I have now. In the meantime, Im
going to work on my image, starting with a skull-and-crossbones
air freshener. If nothing else, it might take care of that sour-milk