Smart decision

Smart_ForTwo_PureI took a cab to the hairdresser’s this weekend, but none were visible when I was finished, so I walked home, stopping on the way to treat myself to a nice lunch. Waiting for my order, I mused about what it would be like to have a car. I wouldn’t have to go out into the street in front of my place and hail a cab; I would just get in my car and go! I was seized by a sudden longing. The nuns had two cars, after all, and they weren’t exactly materialists; maybe I should get a car, too.

Could have gotten a driver’s license; didn’t leave home until four months after my sixteenth birthday, after all. But one way or another, never did learn how to drive, and over the decades, never saw a reason to.

Don’t know any other way of getting around than walking, cabs, and public transportation. Once, years ago, I visited a church, and a woman wanted to drive me home. “I just live around the corner,” I demurred. She insisted, so we got in her car. We went up the block and got to the corner. “Okay, thanks, this is where I live,” I told her as I got out. She was amazed. So was I. I hadn’t realized that to car users, “around the corner” is merely a figure of speech.

I sense what I’m missing by not having a car: Necessities would be so cheap! Walmart, Target, and Costco are places of legend I’ve never visited. There, 200 ounces of laundry detergent would cost next to nothing, instead of $8 for 40 oz when it’s on sale.

And there’s the Grownup Factor. When one doesn’t know how to drive, one is spoken to gently on the topic, like a slow child, even by people who treat you as a fully competent adult in other ways. It rankles me, when I let it. Pride, again, I guess.

I decided to crunch the numbers when I got home. Smart ForTwo is an economical car, isn’t it? One of the hotels in my neighborhood has them for their guests’ use, and the ForTwos look pretty useful and easy to handle.

So Smart USA’s website has a payment estimator. I picked a model (the Pure Coupe), plugged in the 2.99% rate my credit union offers, and came up with a rate of $202 per month, let’s say $200. Then add in $310 per month for parking at home, and, lowballing it, $170 for parking at work in one of the lousy lots far away from my office. I’m not interested in taking out a mortgage on a $50,000 parking space.

Let’s leave out the cost of insurance, gasoline, and maintenance. $680 per month still buys a LOT of laundry detergent even paying $12 for 40 oz. at the corner store. My habit of frequently taking cabs is pretty cheap in comparison. Having a car would pretty much obligate living in poverty like the nuns.

Counting the cost, I can’t even recommend that YOU have a car.

Well, that was one of the fastest longings I’ve ever had and disposed of. If only it were so easy to stop wanting other things.


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