Because I don’t drive.
But, alas, my time has come.
I’m a Millenial, so of course I don’t drive. I live in Portland, so of course I ride bikes, double-decker bikes, unicycles, the tram, and skateboards. None of this is true, however. I have only taken the bus. Additionally, as a Millenial, I hate driving because I can’t rotate 3D objects in my head, and so have a hard time connecting with the car. And really, my anxiety has just gotten worse over the years. Millenials can’t make phone calls, so how am I supposed to pilot two tons of metal?
Now, I do have some privilege working for me. I have an actual license, and I have taken two driver’s ed courses (I last drove in 2004). My husband has a car, and I’ve always been blessed with friends kind enough to drive me where I need to go. I have and still take the bus, but I have people I can call if I’m stranded.
However, my husband’s ’97 Mazda Miata is no longer safe to drive in the rain. That’s a small problem in Portland, where the rain starts in October and ends in March. The Miata has a manual transmission, so I always had a handy excuse to continue not driving.
But we bought a new car this weekend. And it’s an automatic.
We had planned to wait until January before buying a new car, but the rain started early this year. After a whirlwind week of discussing loan options with the bank and researching cars online, we headed to the dealerships.
Neither of us had any experience shopping for a car. I went car shopping with my parents when I was nine, and all I remember is nearly fainting from the July heat. When he bought the Miata way back when, my husband simply agreed to the sticker price.
We made lists, oh so many lists. Is that a Millennial thing, too? We cross-referenced price, fuel efficiency, and size. I settled on the Chevy Sonic and Chevy Spark as my top choices; my husband wanted a Mazda 2 or Mazda 3.
There are a half-dozen dealerships near our apartment, so it was easy to just go from one to the next. We spent a Saturday just looking at cars. The most important things was getting inside and seeing if we could fit. My husband and I are both fat (blunt is the only way to be about it), so a major concern was the ability to enter and exit the vehicle.
I do realize that Miatas are tiny cars, but my husband has had it for 10 years, so it’s broken in.
The Very Tall Man from The Simpsons sums up what it was like for us trying to navigate the Chevys, Nissans, and Fords.
I was surprised by how pleasant the experience was. In our favor was that we were upfront about just looking at cars, so the salespeople would point us in the right direction and leave us alone. Cars that looked great on paper were terrible in person, and vice-versa. Finally, it came down to the Dodge Dart and the Toyota Corolla.
Corollas are fine cars and I’ve known many people who’ve owned one. But it’s the most generic car in existence. It’s almost the Platonic ideal of a car. But they have very roomy front seats.
Sunday was for test driving. Well, test-driving for him and test-passengering for me. Now that we were driving, the salespeople peppered us with questions and inundated us with facts. At the Dodge dealership, we couldn’t remember who had helped us the day before, and so we worried we were “stealing” a commission from a salesperson.
But the drive was fun. We saw a family of deer. We marveled at how different cars are now. First we tested the Dart, then the Corolla. The Dart won.
Signing the paperwork was nerve wracking, especially since the dealership did try to upsell us. We asked if we could leave our old car overnight. “You don’t drive?” the salesperson asked me, confused. I should have said yes, but instead went with the truth: “Well I have a license, but. . . .”
Friends have asked what I like about the new car. I mainly like that it’s not the old car, really. I also like that it has a backseat, that the roof doesn’t leak, and that the windshield isn’t cracked.
My husband has still done all the driving so far. We’ll go out some clear, quiet night to give me some practice. I’ve been reading the Oregon Driver’s Manual. But boy am I nervous.