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Monday, December 7, 2009

Cars in my life

My friend and I came up with a really analogy to explain life, especially relationships. If this post makes no sense, its ok just ignore it. If it does, I think I should write a book because it's helping me a lot.

I bought a civic. I needed a car right away when I moved to a new city. I realized that Bay Area public transportation sucked and I couldn't keep renting a car because it was expensive. So I went to a Honda dealership and I bought a brand new civic. I didn't bargain, I didn't shop around, I knew I needed it and it was in my price range so I bought it. It didn't need maintenance. I didn't want to repair it or worry about things going wrong with it, at least for the first 2-3 years. I was happy putting gas into it once a week and an oil change every few months. Obviously if I could afford a bmw or a honda s2000 or a ferrari, I would've bought it. I didn't consider it cuz I couldn't afford it and the luxuries that it offered didn't appeal to me at the time.

I took my civic on many road trips, I've driven a lot of people in it. So many memorable conversations, so many times where i had to clean it out from puke or dirt from hikes. I have a lot of pictures of my car in different places. I drove up the west coast, I drove to yosemite, I drove to tahoe. I imported it to Canada and went through that paperwork and traffic tickets.

So I've moved to Vancouver and my requirements for a car has changed. I don't actually need a car that much anymore - i live in the city there's public transportation and walking is convenient too. So hypothetically, say I got into a car accident and my car is totaled.

Obviously it's a shock that I've lost my civic. So many memories. So many things things that the car has helped me through. The car took me places. It provided conveniences of getting from point a to b quicker. It was reliable. But now that it's gone...I can choose to see if I can go to the wreck and get someone to rebuild it and salvage the workinig parts. I can choose to put it back together myself. But even if I got it back in some working order - it might be a lot of effort and parts of it might be missing or broken and I have to constantly repair it. It wouldn't be the same civic. I'd get bitter about having had spent all this money and time working on this car. So looking at the opportunity cost, that wouldn't be how I'd spend my time with this civic.

OK, so the civic is a write off. Now what. I can spend my time dwelling on how much I missed the civic. Or I can think....well what are my requirements. Do I really need a car RIGHT now?

The answer is no, I don't at the moment... Walking in Vancouver is totally fine. If I need to get somewhere faster, I can take the bus or skytrain. Actually walking is more healthy. I buy only what I need at the grocery store if I had to carry it back. I'd go check out local farmer markets and walk to china town to get a better deal since parking sucks and it was a hassle to take my car there.

In fact, I should be grateful that I'm alive!! That I'm healthy and still can focus on my business. That I shouldn't let the car being totaled affect the other parts of my life. I should realize that if I need a lift, friend could help me out. I realized that it is inconvenient to drive to visit friends places in vancouver because parking is expensive. And sometimes walking there, well it'll burn more calories and that I wouldn't worry about getting a ticket. I should be relieved that since I don't need a car right now, I'm not paying for insurance and have more money in the bank every month.

Also, I know that I don't actually want a civic. That my next car needs to have 4 doors so its easier to carry more people. Like if I had kids. 2 door civics won't do the job. I understand that needs change and requirements for picking a car changes. I know that I actually want an M3 or a toyota FJ next time. So let me spend my time now figuring out how I can get that car - making more money, being healthy enough to drive it, pick up hobbies like biking so that I have more reason to have a car that can carry my mountain bike next time.

There's a whole bunch of listing of cars - autotrader, craigslist. There's always cars on the market. Obviously I won't look at cars which already have people in them like wives or kids. I also need to define my price range and the features that I'd like in a car. The more specific I get, like the colour and each part of the car, the harder it will be for me to find a car that fits my criteria. Actually after driving the civic, I know more about what I want in a car. Maybe the horsepower wasn't enough or I want to learn how to drive stick next time. I'm glad I got to drive the civic for a while and understand what I like or what I don't like. And I think there's nothing wrong with the civic being my first car that I bought and now I know more about what I'd like in a future car.

Anyway, I can look at other people's cars and see all the things I like about it. They can even tell me their own experiences with their car and what they like and what they don't like. I can take their advice and put some things in my criteria of what I like and what I don't like. But at the end of the day, my car won't be a replica of someone elses' car. And I might like other things.

The profound realization that I had was....well there's a lot of cars out there. There's not just one special car that's going to last 50 years which requires no maintenance and that you'd always completely be happy with it. Look around, there's all different colours and features. It's ok to test drive cars and it's ok to not want a car when it doesn't benefit you in any way. All cars eventaully will require work and maintenance as well and it depends if it fits your needs and gives you the utility you need. And sometimes its ok and you dont to total the car to know that you need to upgrade or downgrade or get rid of a car. I'm lucky that my car is totaled and that it forces me not to think about getting rid of a perfectly good car even when I don't need it.

This analogy is helping me a lot put perspective on things. I'm going to miss my car....a lot. I'm going to look back and remember all the moments I spent in it. But it really isn't productive to dwell on it. I'm ok with walking right now but of course if there's a good deal that comes my way, I'll evaluate it at that time.

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