Car Shopping: My Car Made A Woman Out Of Me
I’ll drive anywhere for a Clinique “Gift With Purchase”. But schlep out of my way for car shopping? Never.
By Janis Hirsch
Somebody Help Me, I’ve Got A Hyundai Addiction
A friend whose name I won’t mention – okay, Kim – needs to replace her car because she’s really really mad at it. This is not about trashing any particular make or model, so I don’t need to say what kind it is – all right, you win! It’s a Honda Civic. Happy now? Anyway, she’s ready to try a different brand.
She wants what most of us want in a car: safe, inexpensive, reliable, good on gas. (Coincidentally that’s what I was looking for in a man. Oh well, three out of four ain’t bad…) I suggested she check out Hyundai because I love them although I wish it were spelled differently. She was happy with the idea until she discovered there are no dealerships near her house. What other cars should she look at?
Seriously? Is that a real estate selling-point these days? Good schools, decent property taxes, car dealers within walking distance? Don’t get me wrong: Kim is an amazing woman. She’s gone toe-to-toe with powerful men and never blinked. She’s juggles motherhood with multiple all-consuming jobs and does them all with great skill and grace. But driving out of her neighborhood for car shopping? No can do.
But then I realized that since I pledged VroomGirls I’ve been guilty of the same sin, which I call the Sin of Chick-ness. When I’m lucky enough to review a car, I read all the info I can. I sift through mountains of paperwork about warranties and fuel economy and safety technology and while Auto Mechanic is not my first language, I get it. Or at least I get by.
But hit me with a paragraph about pound-feet of torque or a 5.0- liter direct-injected V8 and I might as well be reading Hebrew (sorry, Rabbi Rosenthal. You tried. You really tried.) Or Ulysses because even though that was in English I couldn’t understand one single word. And worse? I don’t want to know.
I don’t care about the engine beyond “Will it get me on the freeway without being clipped?” I don’t know what torque is no matter how many times my husband explains it. He’s practically resorted to hand puppets to show me what pistons do and I actively chose not to learn.
I’m Gonna Blame The Men
Until VroomGirls, I saw my willful car-ignorance as girly and believe me, I’ve never been accused of that.
And yet, how’s this for a double standard? I use my iPhone all the time and have no clue how it knows my mother’s phone number, what my newly adjusted Weight Watchers point total is and who mistakenly thinks I give a rat’s tush that they’ve changed their Facebook Profile Picture.
Do I even have an inkling as to how the microwave works?
Am I the least bit curious how my DVR knows if it’s a first run or repeat of “Project Runway”?
And I don’t have to know everything about cars to love them. So there!
I don’t want to blame men for perpetrating this myth… well, I sorta do but mostly, it’s our fault. Yes, some of us love engineering and those women should live long and prosper and be my mechanic. But not caring about powertrain technology doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to be passionate about cars.
Viva La Chick-ness
Back to Kim and her reluctance to schlep. I get it. I have gone without dinner if there wasn’t a good parking spot at the grocery store. Well, actually, I haven’t gone without dinner. I’ve just gone without dinner until I got home and ate an entire box of stale cereal and some frozen peas. What I meant was, I’ve gone without a decent dinner.
But the other side of the coin is that if the guy who colors my hair moved to another city, I’d still go to him. A two-hour drive in rush hour traffic is nothing if the seats at a Barbra Streisand concert are good enough. For a good Buy One, Get One Free sale? I don’t scoff at 45 minutes beyond the wheel. If they throw in a Clinque gift bag, I’ll make that an hour and 45 minutes.
See, it’s not just that we have our priorities but it’s that we’ve bought into what we think our priorities should be. And that, my friends, is the Sin of Chick-ness.
Your Car Is More Than An Appliance
You’re no less of woman for loving your car as long as you love it on your terms. You like it ‘cause it’s a pretty shade of blue? Great! You love it ‘cause it makes you feel sexy? Go for it! You bought it because your dog can jump into it without a boost? Why the heck not?!
If you honestly don’t care what car you drive, by all means shop at the closest dealer. There’s no shame in that. But I think most of us care way more than we think we’re allowed about what we drive, what we sit in all day long, what we take our kids to school in, what we go off on adventures in.
And as for Kim? She still won’t drive out of her way to look at a Hyundai. Which is why I’m picking her up next Tuesday so we can go together, turn it into an Adult Playdate. Because it isn’t about the car. It never is.