Or rather, don't. I no longer do. I (okay, we) bought a new car on Saturday. A 2008 VW Passat Wagon, 2.0 Turbo Sport. The fun family car. It has an automatic transmission, something I haven't had in a car since I was 18. I have driven a manual for 10 years. (The VW, it should be noted, does have Tiptronic, an optional manual control offered in the Sport edition; I used it once so far, and it weirded me out a little, as it has no clutch.) I have sporadically driven automatics over the years (most recently, of course, is the ol' Jeep, Pat's die-hard vehicle of choice), but not for more than a trip or so. The clutching and shifting was all-consuming. I had shifting, radio controlling, eating, cell-phone handling down to an artistic fluid movement akin to modern robotics (spare me your lectures; I know I should be doing none of those things while driving...). After a day in traffic, my left thigh seized up in pain from all the depressions. My manuals, the Hyundai Excel (you know you loved it) and my Chevy Tracker (on to greener pastures...most likely Mankato if the mechanic okays its safety; she's had some trouble as of late, hence the new car; don't tell Mom her Mother's Day present might be a "new" car :-)), really, truly, taught me how to drive. Really drive. And enjoy it.
Driving to work this morning (yes, I'm blogging from work again...it's my student teacher's last week in the classroom, so it shan't continue :-)), my third full day in my (our) new ride, I realized how absolutely different the experience is. Now I know how some people can fall asleep at the wheel: the car does all the work. This car in particular has far more features than I even know what to do with. I forget that I can now control my radio (which has optional satellite radio, if we're so inclined to subscribing) from my steering wheel, reaching over to use the knob, a shocking 15 inches away. I never change the display screen from "Consumption" to any of the many other options (because I like to see it change, and then stop when I'm cruising on a flat straightaway at 32 or 33 :-)). I turned on the heated (black leather) seats this morning, just because I can (yes, I know it was 55 degrees). I haven't started to fill up all the crazy hidden storage compartments with cool stuff (there is an umbrella holder in the driver-side door, so you don't have to bring your wet brolly into the car with you). Not to mention the sunroof.... Driving this car is enjoyable in an entirely different way.
But it is TOO nice. Too good for this girl. The previous paragraph certainly implies bragging. "Look at me! Look at my new car!" And this blog is a venue for that. However, it feels also like repentance. Why on earth do I need these features? Power windows were enough to sell me (no, I've never had power windows in a car before). Why do I need this extravagance? It makes me uneasy. Not just because of the luxury, but I'm a "throw-garbage-on-the-floor, who-cares-if-you-spill, it's-only-a-car" kind of girl. But last night, when Pat got in with a soda, I found myself saying (not even remotely kidding), "Be careful. Don't spill that in my car." AHHHH!!!! Who have I become in 3 short days??? Can a car be a catalyst to changing my lazy ways? I definitely check my blindspots more carefully than before (and there are bigger blindspots with this body style), so it has made me a safer driver, I suppose. That's good. But I liken it to firmly believing no one should ever have to take their shoes off in my house. I have dogs. They track more mud and grit and snow in than you ever could. (Of course, I have very smelly feet, so I hate taking my shoes off in others' homes, so maybe that's why I don't ask for it, and never will, in my own home.) But I digress. Shocking. Where is the line between sloppy, old car driver and shiny, new car driver? When there is a toddler in the back throwing Goldfish crackers everywhere, I'm pretty sure I'll have to be over it. So, I have 3-4 years to change? To get used to this vehicle? I hope I can manage.
In short (ha), I love my new car. Okay, hon, OUR new car. I'll work on that. (It IS actually titled in Pat's name...) BUT, I do not want to be a middle-class yuppy with a shiny car. So, I think I'll get my parks sticker renewed, a new MPR decal stuck to the rear window, and maybe even find a place for the HRC and reusable bag stickers I love so much (not the bumper, though, or Pat might kill me). Sigh. I'm basically a head-case who worries too much. But if you know me at all, you already knew that.
Shift on. V Dubyoo in da haus! (Our salesperson, by the way, was Yugoslavian, so he almost had the perfect accent for doing that...)