Wednesday, January 16, 2013

another expensive, faux British possession

As many people know, I've been locked in a struggle with the Sober Husband over whether to trade in my Volvo.  I'd been driving the Volvo for over five years without complaining until it suddenly lost power while I was driving in heavy traffic.  Then it did it again.  Both times there was no error code, and three different mechanics could not find any plausible cause.  My favorite of these mechanics told me earnestly to get rid of the car as soon as possible and didn't charge me a cent.

However, the Sober Husband saw this differently.  After all, the Volvo was practically paid off, and it was perhaps a better car than I deserved.  He himself had driven an ancient rusty Monte Carlo for part of our marriage (remembered fondly as "the Garbage Car" by the children).  "There's a value in driving unreliable cars," he said.  "Poor people would make that decision differently."

"Just because someone will risk their life in an unsafe car because they can't afford another one means I should?"

"I just think I have a higher tolerance for unreliable cars than you do."

He ended up having to live by those words, as I said, "That car is dead to me" and refused to drive it any more.  So the Sober Husband took the Volvo (which maddeningly never failed him) and gave me his Prius, which had two strange and upsetting failures during my brief tenure as its primary driver.  Some people recommended to me that I find some sort of new age healer to cleanse my chakras of the evil car-killing emanations I must be sending forth, but I refrained.

After some time went by, the Sober Husband began to carp about driving the Volvo.  "It costs me ten more dollars a day in gas than the Prius."

"Trade in the Volvo for something else, and I'll give you back the Prius," I said.  "That car is still dead to me."  This inevitably got the Sober Husband to make remarks about my economic policies and unrealistic expectations for cars.   These discussions never went anywhere, but at least I was able to wrap them up more efficiently once my psychiatrist supplied me with a great line.  "My psychiatrist says you do not value my life highly enough," I would say when the Sober Husband direly discussed the economic foolhardiness of getting a younger, more reliable car.  The Sober Husband never figured out a good response to this line, and it was always an argument-killer, but we were no closer to a resolution.

Then in late December, following a rather large spat between us over a variety of other causes, the Sober Husband said one morning, "Today I'm going to take you to get a car!  Whatever car you want!"  Later that day as we were filling out the papers to purchase a slightly used Mini Cooper Countryman, he said to me, "I guess now is the time I should tell you there's a recall out on the Prius.  The driver can lose control of the steering at any time, with no warning."

"When were you planning on telling me?"

"You weren't speaking to me."

As I drove the Mini home, I realized that now my Aga is not my most expensive possession any more.  I also pondered that my two beloved and extravagant-for-my-station-in-life possessions both have British brand names but are not actually British (the Mini was made in Graz, Austria; the Aga came from France).  Evidently I fall into a certain consumer niche, the faux British category:  someone who seeks out things which look like they are vintage English but demands non-English engineering.  Undoubtedly there is a marketing term for this, and probably it's not flattering.


Claire M. Johnson said...

Glad to see you. Also, this isn't fair! My IDEAL car is a Mini Countryman but I ended up getting that reliable Honda CRV (after getting rear-ended last fall). Now you have my stove and my car. Hmmm. Perhaps we are twins separated in a time warp but you got the good time warp and I'm suffering in the bad one!

GodsKid said...

There is nothing elitist about valuing one's safety! and I love my Mini Clubman. And it's long enough that I sleep in the back, on cross country trips.

weathergirl said...

I'm glad you have a new car. I'm glad SH opted to demonstrate he values your life. I love reading your posts, and hope to see many more of them in the future.