Our people carrier has gone to the great mecha-elephant graveyard in the sky. Taken from us too soon – a mere seven years old – it had lived a dozen lifetimes’ mileage in those brief few years, as my wife raced back and forth from home to school and school to home and Lidl to school to home to dentist to doctor to the drive-through, one endless ricochet, pinging into potholes, between speedbumps, up hill and down dale like a squatter, fatter Millenium Falcon.
The only people carrier that managed to be dirtier on the inside that it was on the outside, it was where homework was done, lunches were consumed, screaming matches were had, and about fifty euro worth of Lego was lost forever. Part livestock express, part coffin ship, it was only a matter of time before our elegant French-born bus was undone by fine Irish boreens. So we thought, hey, it is only a few years old, and while it has 140k on the clock, we were sure there would be somebody out there who would like to buy it as a chicken coop, although they might need to clean it first as all the rotting chips and apple cores in the door wells would probably give a prize rooster the avian flu.
So we proudly went back to the dealership that sold it to us, full of expectations that we would get a few quid for it in a trade-in. Obviously we were on the backfoot from the get-go, as we had the vehicle delivered there on the back of a tow truck, after it had expired in a ditch. A princely three grand was offered, and gratefully accepted, as we exchanged it for the more modern, less palliative iteration.
But now that she has changed her big ugly yoke for a slightly slicker, nicer yoke, I have come to the conclusion that I need to change my car too. Previously, the kids loved travelling in mine as it wasn’t like a mobile landfill and they were unlikely to catch the bubonic plague in it. Now they all want to travel in mummy’s car because it has a rear view camera so she doesn’t reverse into things any more. My sensor stopped working some time ago so I use my own natural instincts to reverse, ie, I stop when I hear the thump. There is little wrong with the old one, aside from the fact that in my mind I have now branded it ‘the old one’. It’s a mere four years old, and as my first car, holds a special place in my heart, for it was behind the wheel of this most bland of vehicles that I learned to drive and then passed my test. In my head I am telling myself that much like stabilisers on a child’s bike, I must now rid myself of my training car in favour of something with a bit more pizazz, something that makes me look less like a 44 year old father of four and more like someone that you wouldn’t instantly feel sorry for.
I deserve an SUV. In many ways it makes sense – I live in the sticks and with the worsening climate change, I need to be ready for deep, manly snows, and incredibly dramatic puddles for me to rage through at 120kph. What’s that you say – SUVs are part of the reason our climate is disintegrating? Well you’re just saying that because you are jealous of how well I have done in life. Except obviously, this is the first hurdle I have to overcome – the fact that really, I may picture myself in a beautiful Audi Q8, but I might also need to use some of my magical thinking to magic up slightly more income. Because cars are terribly expensive things. In fact, the closest I could get to any kind of SUV was one of those lame versions that look like an inflatable sofa and are only marginally larger than one. So I set the controls on the car sites a little lower, with a few more years on the road, and a few more kilometres. Still, all I can reasonably aim for is basically what I already drive. And so I had to come to the conclusion that actually, not only do I not need a new car, I also don’t deserve one. Why should I try to convince the world that I am doing better than I am? Surely at my age I should be well past such insecurities, and yet they persist – why do I want to fit in with those in the executive models, whose motivational LinkedIn posts read like an especially narcissistic chapter of American Psycho? They are not my tribe. I deserve my slightly boring, safe, dependable, ordinary car, because that I how I want my life to be – to get from A to B with minimum fuss, and almost no style.