On picking dumb battles to fight
And why Eric and I spent a whole day to say bye to our beloved car
It is with a certain sadness that I write today’s newsletter. Eric (my husband) and I just got back from a day of saying bye to our beloved car. The day entailed:
Picking up a rental car
Driving 45 minutes out of the city to where our car had stalled and was parked at an auto shop
Coaxing the car on a five-minute drive to the next auto shop that could handle transmission issues (it only stalled three times on that drive)
Waiting three hours for a diagnostic and results
Scheduling a junkyard pickup for the car
Waiting for the tow truck to arrive
Discovering we had a paperwork snafu
Arranging for them to take the car to their junkyard
Making plans to go to the junkyard next week to finish the transaction
And then driving home in traffic, and eventually finding out that after hours rental car return was going to cost us an extra $25.
We probably could have skipped steps 1-4 and tried to do steps 5-6 without being there ourselves. And we knew that going into the day…
On Monday, when the car first stalled and we needed a plan, we both knew immediately that this was going to be one of those dumb battles we needed to fight.
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The car was being driven by family at the time, and so we weren’t on the scene ourselves. Rationally, we heard and understood that things weren’t looking so great for the car. It was probably a transmission issue (read: for any non-car people like me, this is basically a death sentence if your car is pretty old). The writing was on the wall that we were likely going to have to junk the car for whatever residual value we could get.
But…as we pondered our options, both of us felt this need to go to the car. We wanted to see it. We wanted to try to drive the car one last time. We wanted to be with it. We knew that if we didn’t both go to the car, we’d be left wondering about all the what ifs. What if we had just tried driving it around the block one more time? What if we had just taken it to one more auto shop? What if we had just asked someone to make sure it wasn’t a computer issue instead of a transmission issue?!
And so, eyes wide open, we made a very silly economic choice.
We took a day off from our respective responsibilities to go to the car. We spent money on a rental car to get there. We sunk $90 into an extra diagnostic at the auto shop. But we did this all knowing that we needed to, for us to get the closure we needed.
The highlight of today was probably laugh-crying in the car while we blasted Millionaire, which was the first song we’d tried to listen to in the car back in 2018. On the drive home in our brand new (used) car, playing this song led us to realize that the bass on the car speakers was busted. We then drove the car back to the dealer and asked them to repair the speakers for free. They did do this, and in the process of verifying that the speakers were indeed fixed, we probably played the song at least a dozen more times on the car.
Now that I am home, and the bandaid has been ripped off, I am grateful that Eric and I did this together today.
The lesson that I wanted to share is that sometimes, it’s okay to make choices that don’t make sense.
Not every decision in life has to be perfectly rational. Sometimes we need to do things for our souls and our hearts. (And sometimes we may be overly attached to objects to which we probably shouldn’t have ascribed so much significance.)
It’s okay to do stuff that isn’t explainable or justifiable, as long as it feels right and it’s aligned with your personal values. I struggle with this – in a number of contexts – and I personally always welcome a reminder that not always being rational is allowed.
Rest in peace, beloved car.
You were so good to us – from California to Massachusetts to New York, road trips that took us to at least 20 states, through a pandemic (and so many car meals) and from our bright-eyed bushy-tailed days as new college grads to our jaded adult existences now. There will never be another first car quite like you.
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