Being affluent, middle-class (whatever that is) Americans, we have two vehicles. My wife drives a 2000 Hyundai Sonata which is about the best automobile we've owned since way back before we decided a new kid would be more fun than a new car. The original Sonata owner was an Indiana State Highway Patrol Officer who kept it in very good condition. Unfortunately about five years ago it fell into the hands of our youngest son, Benji. Somehow the car survived more-or-less intact and Kay has been driving it for about a year. That is until the middle of September.
At first we thought it might need an alignment; and then the prognosis got worse, and worse. Every mechanic who saw it said we shouldn't drive it AT ALL. Finally our eldest, Kenneth, a Certified Mechanic, towed it to St. Louis where he could do the work himself. We figured all together we'd already paid for his labor (he was, after all, that kid we thought would be so much fun). But, we were down to MY Van for two long months. Talk about your bummer. Not only did I have to share MY Van with Kay, she wanted to drive!
Now, though, the car is back and I am back to being the sole driver of MY Van!
MY Van is a story in itself. It is a 1990 Chevrolet Lumina whose odometer quit about 100,000 miles ago. Its "spare" tire has never been out, and can't be removed now without a blowtorch. The shotgun door doesn't open from the outside, and the rear door doesn't latch. We drove it two years before knowing how to turn on the interior lights. If the windshield needs cleaning fluid I have to stop at a gas station and use theirs. It's only real value is carrying stuff too big or dirty for the car. But, it runs; and it is my ticket to freedom from having to work around my wife's schedule (and letting her drive). That's what affluent, middle-class Americans do when they have a conflict -- get their own toy to play with.
Seems strange to me that we don't often recognize how many "problems" of so-called middle-class Americans are really problems of affluence and not of privation -- problems solved by simply spending money.
…we certainly have demonstrated we can live with one vehicle; two being an issue of affluence and not of lack.
…when certain people at a certain traditional Thursday afternoon meal "have something for everyone that they'll like," grossly overeating will not be because we have gone without food.
…when retailers open doors for "Black Friday" and launch four weeks of shopping frenzy, the innumerable offerings will more often represent choices of want rather than need.
…and, isn't your own (fill in blank here) problem one of affluence, too; not of poverty?
Oh, by the way, have a very affluent thank-filled Thanksgiving Day. I'll be driving to my meal in MY Van (If Kay wants to drive she can take the Sonata, we can afford it).
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.