Friday, May 6, 2011

Confessions of an Eco Girl...

I tend to hold on to my possessions.  Maybe it's the Midwestern in me, having grown up surrounded by people whose root cellars were full of home-made canned goods and every basement contained a large freezer filled with enough food for the Apocalypse...

I still have the (very tattered and thin) favorite nightgown I wore when I was 3 which has a fish on it and says "Don't Pollute the Ocean."  Apparently I had a thing for the environment even then.

So it shouldn't come as a big surprise, knowing these things about me, that I become just as weirdly attached to my vehicles, and choose to drive them and drive them until there's just no more hope.

My very first car, which I bought with my own $1500 when I was 21 (I always lived in urban cities so had relied on public transport my whole life until that point) was a little Ford Escort.  I had that car when I moved to Los Angeles and found great pleasure in attending swanky events and demonstrating to the valet how the windows rolled up and down, and how the locks pushed down and pulled up.  I made a ton of money back then, but refused to get a new car in part because:

 a) I was stubborn
 b) I was scared to death of being car jacked
and c) I had more fun spending my money on amazing trips.

I ended up selling my little Escort for $500 when I moved to Maui, and yes, I think I may have cried when I sold it.  Ridiculous, but true.

I could tell you every car and truck I owned and loved after her.  the 1978 Chevy Luv Maui cruiser with a lumber rack and a hole in the floor board big enough for a small child to fall through , my rusty, yellow VW convertible bug I drove when Zane was a baby, my Dodge Ram pickup I'd fill with found objects and metal after I learned how to weld...  They all had good car lives I'd like to think.  I talk to my cars like some people talk to their plants, but that's beside the point.

Eight years ago I bought my Rav.  It's name is just Rav Rav, in part because that's the sound she makes when she climbs up hills.  It wasn't new, had 70,000 miles on it when I bought it, and it's been paid off for years now. As far as cars go, it's been a pretty stellar vehicle.  When my battery died last summer and I called AAA, the guy who came out just about shit his pants when he looked at it, and actually took a picture because the battery was 10 years old!  Apparently it was a good battery!

So on April 12th, I drove Miss Zoe to ballet class just like every other Monday evening.  I dropped off the kids, made sure Zoe was settled into her class, then drove down the street to quickly deposit a check at the bank.  As I left the bank, I heard a loud clunk.  Uh - oh.

I made it back to the dance studio and got it parked.  When we came out of the dance studio, it wouldn't go into reverse.  In fact, it refused to do anything but Rav without moving at all.  AAA.

"My car is locked in gear.  I need a tow truck."

They sent a locksmith van.  Figures...  It was a long evening that entailed calling boyfriend to rescue and feed kids while I waited for a real tow truck, had to keep my foot on the brake as he winched my car back out of the spot and onto the trailer, was horrified when he stopped at Circle K to buy dish soap to use to "slide" my car off the trailer bed, and waited patiently for bad news from my awesome mechanic.  Yep - dead transmission.

Thankfully I have great friends, a fabulous boyfriend, and live in close proximity to the light rail, so even though the no car situation has been a major pain in my ass, I've managed.

So this past weekend, a good friend of mine was heading to Aruba for the week, and my car situation (or lack there of) got brought up.  He offered to loan me his car while he was away.

That car, is a HUMMER.

Yep, a Hummer.  Me - Miss Rogue Green Hostess, Miss environmental consultant, is in short-term possession of the Anti Christ of vehicles to the sustainability world.

Because it's an H3, it apparently gets great gas mileage for a Hummer - a whopping 19 mpg on the highway.

I've driven it as little as possible, but I've driven it.  I'm not going to lie, in comparison to my stinky mom car, there are some things I've really appreciated.  The swanky leather seats are pretty comfy.  The satellite radio with a bazillion stations rocked my world and I've driven Zane crazy with my incessant channel switching.  Talk radio, BBC, every genre of music, traffic updates from other cities, obscure radio personalities.  I found myself going back to the reggae station most of the time though, because I think I was trying to balance things out in my brain with my hippie soul driving what is basically a war vehicle.  What a weird feeling.

I found myself blurting out loud to strangers:

"This isn't my car, I'm just borrowing it."

I dreaded being seen in it, and found myself scouting the area for people I knew before I would leap out of it and run away.  

My boyfriend has been trying to sneak pictures of me in front of it all week, no doubt to try to use as incriminating evidence and blackmail material for possible naughty favors in return.  (I scream then run away, shouting obscenities and laughing.)

So when my mechanic sent me a text yesterday to tell me my car was finally fixed, I almost wept.  Okay, maybe not actual tears weeping, but I don't think I've ever been more grateful for my little Rav Rav, though I am extremely thankful my friend entrusted his car to me while he was away so I didn't have to schlep kids and groceries on the bus because I'm a car spoiled consumer apparently.  Hey, none of us are perfect.

When we went to pick it up today and got in, Zane said,
"Yep, it still stinks.  I sure do like that new car smell the Hummer has."  (He's a 12 year old boy, so what would you expect?)
I of course crinkled my nose and launched into a lecture about volatile organic compounds and how he should be thrilled we even have a car at all, because we never had a car when I was growing up and we walked miles and took the bus everywhere.

Jesus.  Am I getting old?

Driving the Rav after driving environmental Anti Christ sort of felt like driving a golf cart.

But it's my golf cart.

And I swear this baby has another 80,000 to 90,000 miles in her...


  1. Awesome! I rented a car when I was out of town one time and they gave me a hummer-like car and I was all, "Umm... I don't need that." But I drove it anyway, terrible mileage and so wasteful.
    My old 1992 Honda had 325,000 miles on it when I donated it to NPR. I cried too, that car was like a sibling.
    I couldn't afford a hybrid and I live a pretty urban life for a Phoenician, so I got a 2005 Civic. I'll drive that until it has 325,000 miles on it too. :)
    Your nightgown with the fish reminded me that my first science fair project when I was in 2nd grade was about saving the earth and recycling. I hadn't thought about that for years.

  2. I love it! xo

  3. I rent a car about once every 3 months to do heavy errands, take my dog to the vet, etc. while my scooter gets serviced. That's like only 4 car payments a year, with no maintenance. Scooter is paid off, maintenance and insurance are super-reasonable. I did it as soon as my last kid was out of the house, and it's one of the best moves I've ever made!

  4. I hear you Julie! My plan is to open some little eco b&b somewhere in the Mayan Riviera when my urchins have flown the nest. At least 14+ years down the road, but it's tucked in my mind!