The One Car Family
January 27, 2011
Long long ago, back when we were still DINKs and went out on Saturday nights, Phillip drove a shiny silvery Subaru and I drove... well, I drove the Ford Explorer he was driving in high school. But you know, this was a huge step up for me, having had NO car before we were married. I didn't even really want it, honestly, but I'd changed jobs and it was a BEYOND unacceptable two-hour bus commute. So we had our two cars and our disposable income and our friends over for dinner and WASN'T LIFE GRAND?
We are products of our environment, however. Phillip and I live in a city full of people obsessed with Being Green and I started to wonder why PHILLIP, who took the bus to work and only drove on weekends, had the nice car and MYSELF, who drove every day, had to deal with giant gas guzzler that tended to break down on shoulder-less bridges. (Sorry Ballard Bridge drivers!) (And here, an Important Note: The reason I did not drive Phillip's car is because it was a stick. And even now, at thirty-one years old, I cannot drive a stick. AND I'M NOT GONNA LEARN.)
Slowly, gently, carefully I talked Phillip into getting rid of the Explorer and trading in the Subaru for something new, something fabulous, something GREEN. We bought a Jetta TDI, which, if you did not know, drinks DIESEL. And you know what you can get in Greenypants Seattle? BIODIESEL. I was totally going to Environmentalist Heaven now. Smelling like French fries.
We loved that car. And Phillip's commute was super easy and I got to drive the nice car and whenever we went somewhere on the weekends HE got to drive the nice car and we got along fabulously. Even after we had Jack, we still had our nice little grown up DINK car. And then? Then we had another baby.
Yes, we could have put two ginormous car seats in the back seat of our Jetta, but we often drove a third adult around and it just didn't make SENSE anymore. And with extreme sorrow, not just for the car but for our Way Of Life, we traded in the Jetta for a Mazda 5. The gory details are here, but all you really need to know are two things: 1) the Mazda 5 is referred to as "the mini minivan" and 2) it has sliding doors. I'm sure you all heard Phillip's heart shattering as he installed the car seats, but me? Those sliding doors improved my quality of life about nine gazillion percent.
It just made sense. I was home with two kids and doing all the errand running and family visiting while Phillip only needed to go back and forth to work, which was downtown, which is where all the buses go. He didn't need a car. We didn't NEED a second car. So maybe our new car got half the gas mileage of the old one and it was a family car to boot, but WE ONLY NEEDED ONE CAR.
But several times a week, usually over dinner, in a depressed and pouty sort of voice, I am told how NICE it would be to have a second car. The thing is, we moved to a neighborhood with spotty bus access. It takes Phillip longer to get to and from work, and half the time he has to make a transfer. I'm sure it IS a million times more annoying than his old bus, which, even though it was full of crazy people and smelled funny, was a fifteen minute express with a stop a block away from our house. I am SORRY the bus is difficult and BELIEVE ME I'm sorry that he sometimes misses his transfer. But do you know how much it costs to park downtown? DO YOU?
Unless we move to the suburbs, unless my husband's job relocates, unless the city goes bankrupt and no longer provides public transportation (and all of these are possibilities, I think) there is absolutely no point in a second car. The end.
Wellllll, except for when I want to visit my family and Phillip can't drive down to meet us after school because, uh, I have the car. Or when we have a packed Saturday and can't run separate errands at the same time. Or when it's a perfect day for the playground and one of us is stuck at home with the kids while the other one grocery shops. Or yeah, sure, when it's pouring down rain and the buses are off schedule and it'll be seven before he gets home for dinner. I SUPPOSE there are good (convenient) reasons to get another car.
But again: do you have ANY IDEA what it costs to park downtown? I do not have room in my budget for that particular line item.
So we're a one car family, despite Phillip's nightly perusal of Craigslist, and it's really not so bad. It makes sense for us, at least in our current circumstances, and the hardships honestly aren't that hard. It's simpler, cheaper, sometimes easier and we have yet to borrow a friend's car out of desperation.
What about you? Are you a one car or multiple car family?