July 13, 2018

My Automotive Irrationality

2018 Ford Mustang
Photo by More Cars [CC BY 2.0]
Since it is Friday the 13th, I suspect some atheist bloggers will be using the occasion to mock those who are irrationally fearful of the day. I think I'll do something different by attempting to overcome some embarrassment and own up to one of the many areas in which I am irrational. If I had to pick one subject about which I am as irrational as any other I can think of, it would have to be cars. While this hasn't really impacted my life in negative ways, I've made surprisingly little progress in overcoming it. And that means it has been a continued source of embarrassment.

I am well aware that there are people out there who view cars and other motor vehicles as nothing more than means of transportation. They have no attachment to their vehicles, don't derive any pleasure from operating them, and see them as a means to an end (i.e., transportation from point A to point B). I envy these people. If I was one of them, buying my next vehicle would be easy. I'd determine which category/size best met my needs, identify the top few most reliable vehicles in that group, rule out any that didn't have the features I considered essential, and go shopping. I'd probably end up with something like a Camry or Accord. While I have bought vehicles like this before, doing so required me to fight off my many irrational tendencies.

What are these irrational tendencies? I get attached to cars, enjoy driving, care what cars look like, and easily get sucked into putting what I like ahead of what I need. What I like are quick (though not necessarily fast) cars that handle well, have manual transmissions and simple controls, and make me look forward to driving them. Cars like this are getting harder to find, and the few that fit the bill tend to be notoriously unreliable. I've been able to come to terms with that to some degree, but no matter what type of vehicle I am looking at, it is difficult to stop myself from putting too much emphasis on the question of whether it is going to be fun to drive. And because most of them are not, this creates some problems.

The vehicle I currently own is a small SUV. I had a fun car prior to buying it, but I convinced myself that I needed more space. It is extremely practical even if I rarely utilize the added space it offers over something like a mid-sized sedan. There is nothing even mildly enjoyable about driving it, and I find myself missing that almost every day. As nice as it is to have the extra space when I need it, I don't use it more than a handful of times a year. And to get it, I have to live with a vehicle that brings me no pleasure. See how easy it would be for me to talk myself into replacing it with something fun?

When I consider my options, it is hard to imagine getting another SUV. If I was really using the extra space it afforded, I might be able to live with the lack of driving enjoyment. Giving up the fun-to-drive dream for something I'm not really using is a hard sell. A reliable mid-sized sedan would be the rational choice. Even a bland one would probably be somewhat more enjoyable to drive than my current vehicle, and it would also have better gas mileage and modern safety features. Unfortunately, that sounds far less appealing than the irrational choice which would be something like a notoriously unreliable American muscle car.

I think it is better to recognize our own irrationality than not to do so. Recognizing this aspect of mine has helped me fight against it and even be successful from time-to-time in doing so. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't still there and didn't get the best of me at times.