Anyone who knows me, knows me that I don’t like cars. In fact, sometimes my antipathy towards cars, or I should say any motor vehicle powered by gasoline or electricity and with the potential to lay flat a confused squirrel that can’t figure out which side of the road to run to, is visceral. The irony is I grew up in the country where the nearest grocery story was two towns over, my high school was two towns over, and most kids when I was growing up got their learner’s permit promptly at 14, their driver’s license at 16. I got mine at 18. I put it off as long as I could, until I went to community college and no longer had a school bus to rely on for transportation.
Motor vehicles have always scared me with their loud, rumbling, noisy engines; their stink of fuel and exhaust; the specter of death lurking in the backseat. I knew plenty of people (classmates, cousins) who were in either fatal or near fatal accidents. My mom was in one when I was 14. She was on her way to work on a cold winter morning and hit an ice patch on the bridge. They say her car practically flew over the bridge and down and then up a tree. Seat belts weren’t required by law then so she was found huddled on the floor of the car. She survived with just a few bruises. And my dad fell asleep at the wheel once and wound up in the hospital. I could go on since I have a wealth of relatives alone who have had their own adventures with automobiles.
When I lived in upstate New York, the only time I liked driving was when I was on a back road at night, a road lightly travelled. But even then I knew that if a deer suddenly burst from the trees, I would be a goner, or at least the deer and the car. Or if I hit a rabbit (which I did once), I’d have to stop and get out and move the dead critter to the side of the road so it would have a little dignity before scavengers smelled it. I knew cars could kill, very easily, and so I’ve never been totally at ease with them. Where I live now, motor vehicles are a necessary evil. In fact, we have two because even in this relatively small town, two working people getting around with one car is near impossible.
So I make the most of it. In 1997 we traded in my husband’s 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass (that we can towed all the way from San Francisco) for the 1994 Toyota pickup in the picture above (sans bumper stickers). It had low mileage and the model is known for lasting for millennium with the proper care. The Toyota was intended for my husband, but once I got behind the wheel and shifted into 3rd, the first word out of my mouth was “Mine.” I love standards. At least with a standard, I feel I have some control over the vehicle, however illusory that may be.
As you can see, I (we) have a tendency to decorate our vehicles with bumper stickers much the same way we decorate our refrigerator with magnets. The one of Rick Scott is actually a magnet and I live dangerously by keeping it on my vehicle since I am employed by the state government. But, hey, Free Speech, right? The downside of that particular bumper sticker is learning how many people get “Crist” wrong. Yes, I’ve met a few who really think Crist is just misspelled. Sigh.
My favorite sticker is “I don’t have to like Bush to love America.” Really, I don’t have to like any elected official to love my country, which is a good thing since there are many elected officials that I less than like. Yes, I did vote my conscience and for Kucinich in the primaries in 2008, but, of course, pragmatism ruled when it came time for the general election. “Reading is Sexy” was a gift from my husband and so was “California Girl.” I do “love NY,” although in my mind, NY is upstate NY, not NYC. My husband is a member of Veterans for Peace as well as an amateur astronomer so, of course, he would prefer to see starlight rather than street lights. The “final frontier” bumper sticker has something to do with the environment, but it’s so faded now. I’ve left it there for the irony.
Finally, cats rule.
So do you have a vehicle that you either love or hate? Do you identify with it? Does everyone know your vehicle like all my coworkers and friends know my truck? Is your vehicle pristine, or held together with a kaleidoscope of bumper stickers?