Driving a Delta 88 with a Leaky Roof Teaches VersatilityMay 30th, 2014 | By Editorial Staff | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog
I’ve driven eight different vehicles in the last three months. This is what happens when you drive a company vehicle, and the company is a towing company. Through the years I’ve been lucky enough to drive approximately 15 different vehicles that were good runners that progressed through the lien foreclosure or repair/resell process. These vehicles, as with all things in life, were temporary. Some were more temporary than others. I’ve had some winners (a ’97 Civic comes to mind) and some were losers (a Delta 88 with a leaky roof has been nearly wiped from my memory.) Right now the problem I’m dealing with is a clutch problem on a 2001 Subaru Forester, which is an otherwise excellent vehicle. It has been in the shop three times recently and each time I bounce around from various family/friend vehicles to other family/friend vehicles. Only two of the eight vehicles I’ve driven in the past three months are vehicles I own.
On the one hand, you learn versatility. I got to drive a Smart Car for the first time. Interesting. Today I’m driving a 1991 Miata. Sporty. To be fair, not all of the switching back and forth is due to the Subaru’s clutch. Some of it was borrowing pickups to do youth baseball field work — hauling around materials and tools. A pickup is very handy. Plus, it’s tough to put the baseball gear bag in the back of the Smart Car or the Miata.
I’m not picky. I understand that it only makes sense that we find a vehicle that was impounded and unclaimed, or fixed up to sell, rather than go out and buy a car for me to drive. It also only makes sense that it wouldn’t be a vehicle that the company could make a decent amount of profit from by selling. So often it’s a car that runs fairly well, makes only slightly irritating noises, has only slightly offensive odors, and a crack in the windshield. That way, the company cuts its losses. I don’t want it to have any losses, so I’m not picky. For awhile I had a dented 90s-era Firebird, with a 6-cylinder. Okay. For a year or so I had a no-frills Jeep. My kids liked that one.
If I got a job with no company car it would be quite an adjustment. I’d probably end up biking, or taking mass transit, which would be really challenging with my current 45-mile commute. Like many of you, I’m in that middle-class segment where earning power has gone up 1.3 percent in the last 30 years while cost-of-living has gone up 103 percent. Don’t you just love what the free market has done for us? My parents both worked when I was growing up. I now make about 30 percent more than they made combined in 1975. But their house, almost three times the size of ours, cost them $11,000 to build in 1963. They routinely bought cars a couple years old for bargain prices. Their health insurance was paid for by their employer, and it basically paid for everything. Their employer contributed most of the money they eventually received as retirement plans. They worked hard and they were rewarded. And their employer did pretty well also.
I’ve heard it said that your chances of succeeding are better if you live with an abundance mentality, rather than a scarcity mentality, and I believe that. I do my best to practice it, but some days — when you’re calling your in-laws to borrow a car, for instance — it’s tough to maintain that view. We are all accountable for our decisions and actions, and our non-decisions. Perhaps I could have gone into business for myself years ago, if I had made better decisions, and then I’d be driving a new car, but I didn’t, so I’m not. I’m accountable for that. Which is why I don’t feel bad about negotiating a company vehicle 15 years ago and sticking to it.
I know this sounds cynical, but one reason why so many of us nowadays gravitate toward “living in the moment” is that we’re frightened about the future. We’re afraid that when it all falls apart we’re going to look back and wonder why we didn’t appreciate what we had. Or we’re afraid that, when it never gets better, that we’re going to look back and wonder why we worked so hard to lose ground little-by-little.
So today, I will enjoy the very low-profile view from the seat of a Miata. Who knows? Tomorrow I might taking it all in through a completely different set of windows.
Have a safe and profitable week.