Archive for July, 2014

July 9, 2014

The Clunker

My family is not fancy, not millionaires or anything close to it. I am extremely fortunate to always have plenty of food on the table and a nice house in a safe neighborhood, mostly loaded with lots of love and beautiful family portraits on the walls. We’d rather spend our money traveling than buying things; an attitude I’ll forever be grateful that my parents instilled in me. That being said, I’ve been handed a nudge-of-a-reminder this week of a lesson in materialism. It’s called; the clunker.

The clunker, as we call it, is a car … no, a vehicle … no, it’s a box on wheels that my dad bought online from someone who was probably blown away that someone would even buy the stupid thing. It’s a two door, soft top, dark blue 2000 Kia Sportage that my dad bought as an extra set of wheels for when his kids came into town and we’d have a car to use. (Yes, my dad is amazing, I know).  It has at least a handful of dents, a broken odometer, and a manual fifth gear you have to find somewhere near the glove box or passenger side window. My dad had to put in a lot of work at first; a new radio, new AC, new this and new that. But he keeps it exceptionally clean, the engine runs smoothly, and it’s a set of wheels to get me from point A to point B.

Luckily, I moved back to Scottsdale from San Francisco with my own car shortly after this ‘wonderful purchase’, so I got out of using the clunker too much and instead just make jokes about the thing falling apart every chance I get. It sits in my dad’s garage, and every once in a while he takes it out for a spin.

My car, my baby, is also not new. In fact, she is almost just as old as the clunker. But you see, my car is my first car, my first love, and my first major purchase of my life ten years ago. She’s old, she’s not fancy, but I’m proud of her. And she recently got hit in a minor accident, which means she’s been in the shop this week, and – yup you guessed it – that means I’ve been driving the clunker.

Yesterday morning on my way to work, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the thought of someone seeing me park in our building parking lot. I even thought about parking in the visitors lot, but didn’t. The thought of someone I know seeing me drive the thing bouncing down Scottsdale Road was enough to make me speed, not that the clunker can go that fast.

It wasn’t until that evening, as I was innocently parking at the Target by my house and pulled in the spot next to a brand new silver Porsche Panamera with a California license plate that it really hit me. I just had to take a picture. Even better, I really had to just stop and laugh at myself.

After the first thirty seconds of shock realizing that just the steering wheel of the car parked next to me was probably worth about the same amount as the entire clunker, it really made me thankful. As I got out of the clunker, and slammed the door really hard (…because else it won’t shut), I noticed a baby seat in the back of the car that’s worth more than my annual salary. I pictured a tiny baby, growing up to only know cars like Porsche Panameras and whatever else people drive who can afford cars like that. This is not to say anything about the type of people they are; they could be the best, kindest, most generous people in the world. That’s not the point. The point is, that my appreciation of the clunker, and my own ten year old car grew even more because of the amount of love, care, hard work, and dedication that has gone in to the vehicles that get me from point A to point B.

Sometimes it seems that the world rates our accomplishments and success by the value of the things we own. My struggle most of the time, is that the life I’d ideally like to live and experience costs more than I can actually afford. All the traveling I want to do, concerts I want to attend, hobbies I want to take up, and wine I want to drink – it all costs money. And so, I get up and go to work, and park the clunker in the parking lot, and remember the hard work it takes to find the true value of accomplishments. I may never be able to afford a Porsche Panamera, and maybe I’ll always have a clunker-alike sitting in my garage. But at least I worked for it, and even better, I have something to work my way up to 🙂

This morning when I drive to work in the clunker, I won’t race to get there in case someone spots me. I’ll let everyClunker and Porche mile sink in as I drive, feeling blessed and grateful that I’m getting from point A to point B.

I hope you can appreciate something like the clunker in your own life – and remember to just, love life.