I’ve just started a new job. My new job has me driving more than 10 km each direction to work (more than any distance in my entire professional career, and more than any distance ever that I’ve driven to work). I’m doing English as a Second Language support for 8 different schools all along Lake Erie (which I don’t live that close to), and I have to drive, most days at least 45 minutes each direction.
Mind you, I love my new job. I’m having a lot of fun, and I’m currently enjoying the drive. Plus — I’m being paid mileage, which I didn’t know when I applied for the job, but it’s a great perk. In my first week, I tacked 500 km on my car. My first mileage claim, which I filed yesterday for the month of September, was for 1120 km. Insane. For the last 8 years, I’ve put no more than 100 km per week on my vehicle for work.
Because of this, and the fact that I drive a 10 year old car, it felt like it was time to start car shopping. My mileage can, of course, cover the payment to buy a new one.
I found though that I couldn’t make a decision, and I didn’t know why. See, I’ve been driving a Toyota Matrix for a long time, and before that I had a Toyota Matrix, and before that? A Toyota Corolla. It would make sense given my record that I’d be able to one-stop-shop by walking into a Toyota dealership.
But part of my consideration in car shopping was that I haaaaate winter driving. Hate. So I figured that since I had the money, I could go to something bigger. Tougher. Gutsier. Something that’ll tough its way through the snow a bit better. Something with AWD, or… even better…. 4×4. I wanted a Jeep. I’ve always wanted a Jeep. And when I started shopping and I saw the new Jeep Renegade, I knew I had to drive one.
I started researching, and I fell in love with the Renegade. I mean, look at it…
But I also test drove a Chevy Trax, a Nissan Rogue (which I also loved, and probably would have gone with…), a Toyota Rav4 (brand loyalty for the win), a Mazda CX-5, a Honda CRV, and a Honda HRV.
I had pretty much come to a decision. I was going to buy a Nissan Rogue AWD, and the only thing I was sad about was that it didn’t come in red in the base trim level. I wanted something flashy.
the niggling feeling that something wasn’t right would not go away.
A week ago, I was out with friends having an extreme brownie night (I have awesome friends!) and a few of us started talking about car accidents. Three of us had been in pretty serious ones, and we’re all very lucky to be alive.
I don’t know if I’ve ever really laid out how mine made me feel in this location. It’s been hard for me to talk about to pretty much anyone. I had two car accidents in 6 months, and they left me pretty much a wreck behind the wheel — the second one in particular.
The first one was an improper left turn on my part, and while I couldn’t see properly, it’s still my fault, because I pulled into traffic making a left turn thinking that I was in the clear. I looked, I didn’t see anything coming, but when I was promptly T-Boned it was clear that I was wrong. A combination of factors led to that, but ultimately — my car was written off and I was very upset. In the second one, I was merging onto the 401 at the end of December, and hit a patch of black ice as I was changing lines. My back tires slid out from behind me, I fish tailed a few times, and then I don’t remember anything else until I was on my roof skidding to a stop, but both my passenger and the car behind me informed me that I hit the cement median and rolled back into the highway three times before skidding to a stop of the roof. My brain has obviously censored a chunk of that experience out, and I think I’ll be delighted if I never retrieve that memory.
That second crash left me in a shaky, unsure of myself, out of control mess. I didn’t feel like I had control of anything, and I couldn’t fall asleep without seeing the sparks of my roof against pavement for months. I couldn’t merge onto the 401 without hyperventilating for three months after the accident, and I could hardly take care of myself. My world felt like it was caving in around me (for more reasons than just the accident), but it’s created a marked fear of winter driving in me that I haven’t even consciously acknowledged in years.
It hasn’t occurred to me in years that the reason I hate winter driving so much is because the worst year of my existence started around the time I lost my back end on black ice.
When that thought hit me though, I immediately wondered the question that would ultimately be the undoing of my car decision — am I buying a 30,000 dollar vehicle because it’s the practical and wise decision? Or am I buying a 30,000 dollar vehicle because I’m scared?
I knew right away that if the answer was that I was scared, I was going to spend 30 grand just to be scared the first time it snowed, and that felt like a really big waste of money.
If the reason was that a ten year old vehicle won’t withstand the piling on of kilometers and all that extra maintenance, well, then it would make sense to make the purchase while my ten year old car still has any trade in value.
But after a lot of soul searching, I came to the conclusion that I was scrambling for a new car so that I could feel in control and safe…. and a car can’t give me that level of security. The following doubts started to creep in: How much worse would it feel to ditch a 2015 than a 2006? I’m spending a lot of time on country roads… what if I slide off into a ditch? What if I damage my new car? What if I hammer it so hard with kilometers that the life is gone out of it before I’m finished paying for it in 84 months? How will I ever pay off my line of credit (that I’m doing pretty well at right now) if every time I make more money, I take on a new payment for something else?
Ultimately, after wrestling all those doubts to the ground and praying for direction and wisdom, I decided what to buy.
I am buying good snow tires, new windshield wipers, new headlight bulbs, and I’m getting my headlights polished. Instead of putting my trust in a 30,000 dollar car, I’m going to put my trust in the only place it belongs, and trust that God has my back, and that maybe, just maybe… this can be the winter that I don’t panic every time I have to drive in the snow. Maybe.
I discovered while I was car shopping that Toyota no longer makes the Matrix (what I’m driving now), and I found that I was very sad. If they still made it, I’d likely have signed on the dotted line for an All Wheel Drive Matrix before any of the second thoughts could have set in. So I guess… thanks, Toyota?
Today, while catching up on some TV I missed the last two days, I saw a commercial for the new Scion iM.
2006 Toyota Matrix
Do you see the resemblance? I think — when I’m finally ready for a car purchase to be the practical decision, and not one that I made out of fear and lack of control — it might be an AWD Scion iM. Cuz…. pretty!
Or a Nissan Rogue….
Or, who knows, I did enter a contest to win a Jeep…. maybe I’ll get my Renegade after all.