My Car’s Cooler Than Your Car (When the AC’s Broken)

I didn’t have a car because my mother gave her beater to one of my friends. It appeared her dad could fix cars where mine could only break them. He’d hit deer and decide one fender and headlight was more than enough. That was the car I borrowed to drive myself to the prom. And no, I didn’t have a date.

That friend, who “bought” my car for one dollar (because in order for a legal purchase to take place you need a bill of sale where money exchanges hands) always charged us two dollars for gas money. “Do you have two dollars?” Gas was pretty cheap in those days–lower than 99 cents a gallon.

My best friend’s mom always chastised me. “You should get a car and drive into Hartford to waitress.” I couldn’t do that, because I was broke. It takes money to buy a car. I was going away to college and wouldn’t really need a car. If I could afford a car, it’d be a bad one, which meant I’d need to budget money to fix the car, too. Then, there was the matter of insurance.

I figured it all out mathematically, and it didn’t make make sense for me to buy a car, maintain it, pay for the gas to Hartford, and pay for insurance–I’d be paying to go to work.

My second chance to get a car was in college when my grandfather stopped driving. Old people shouldn’t drive, plain and simple. Every once in a while you meet an old person who is a couple hundred years old and still remembers to turn the stove off, but my grandfather wasn’t that person. The car sat in the garage. When cars sit, things go wrong. There are parts to the car that need to move to be in top shape. Cars that have been sitting have rot in places that shouldn’t be rotting. My grandfather’s car had a mouse or ten that moved in, and repairs that needed to be done. It was decided that my cousin in med school should get the car. I lost again.

This was a painful loss because it relegated me to the bus line. If you take the bus you know what I mean. There are limited jobs on the public transportation line, and unless you live in a commuter friendly city like New York, Boston or San Francisco, you’re basically sentencing yourself to a life of Burger King.

Transportation is a social justice issue. We’ll examine it.

Critical questions: 

Should I buy a car or can I walk?

How much money do people without access to good transportation lose compared to those with reliable transportation?

Should I buy new or used?

What do I need for insurance, and why’s it so #$%#$ expensive?


Evaluate vehicle purchases.

Select an insurance company and policy.

Understand the following: depreciation, state insurance requirements, basic vehicle maintenance requirements, how to choose and work with a mechanic or body shop, how car payments work, how to research value cars, what to do in an accident, the concept of indemnification

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