On cars and Hogwarts, again

If you’ve been around for a while, it’s possible that you remember this story: my son attends a pricey private school, one that my wife and I are affording with financial assistance. When we first started sending him there, I was driving a Ford Escape that had a six-figure mileage and was, itself, old enough to have a drivers’ license. My current Kia Soul is an upgrade. However, there was a day, several years ago, when I was picking my son up during the winter in the Escape and experiencing a bit of class anxiety. I comforted myself with the existence of what looked like a station wagon in the parking spot next to me that also was covered in salt and muddy snow and looked kind of shitty, only to discover that I was comparing my $2000 Escape to a fucking $100,000 Porsche.

He’s at summer camp right now, and I just went to pick him up, and I found myself in the car line behind a Tesla– I don’t know exactly which model, but not the one with the weird doors. One kid got in that car and they stayed in their spot, possibly waiting for another kid. My kid came out and got in my car, so I waited for the lane to be clear and pulled out to drive around the Tesla that had been parked in front of me.

Only to find myself behind another fucking Tesla.

My wife and I do just fine, I swear, and I see the effects of actual poverty every day at work, and again, no one in this building has ever been anything other than perfectly nice, but damn, there is just no faster way to make myself feel broke than to look around at the cars any time I’m near Hogwarts. It’s ridiculous.


I suspect we’re going to be back up over 100,000 new cases a day nationwide by the end of the week, (EDIT: Ha, it happened today!) and the CDC just announced that everybody should start masking up indoors again. I just ordered a new pack of filters for my favored mask. I was really hoping to not have to teach in a mask again this year, but apparently only about 20% of 12-15-year-olds are vaccinated nationwide and I’m sure that number is lower in my district, so I really don’t have any choice. Indiana’s numbers are going up, but they aren’t spiking to the degree the nation’s are yet and St. Joe County isn’t as hot as the rest of Indiana, so I’m pretty sure the school year will be starting as normal this year. That said, I don’t think I knew on July 27 last summer how this year would be starting yet, so who the hell knows? I suspect everyone will just close their eyes and pretend Covid has gone away, but we’ll see.

LOUISVILLE: View from my car window

Guess whose car got broken into last night? And has to listen to this for four hours on Sunday?

(Coulda been a lot worse. They took a pair of prescription sunglasses. That’s it. Didn’t touch any of my con stuff and the car didn’t flood in the rain.)

Meet Joey Car James

Joey here will be conveying us around for the next several days.

Speaking of milestones

I give you Joey Car Kristofferson II Green.

So, my car

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 5.02.01 PMI done fucked up today, I think.

My current car is a 2001 Ford Escape with nearly a hundred and seventy thousand miles on it.  The fabric on the driver’s side door is mostly peeled off, there are big patches of rust inside all the doors, and there’s a big crack in the rear bumper.  The radio intermittently decides it needs to take a rest and won’t turn back on for anywhere from a few seconds to a day.  It leaks oil from a leak so deep in the engine that repairing it is an absurdity.  And its gas mileage… well, leaves something to be desired.

That said: it turns on when I need it to turn on and it gets me where I want to go, and while it’s loud as hell at speed it’s not an uncomfortable ride by any means.  It’s just that at 170K it is only a matter of time until something breaks that will be pointless to repair.  To get ahead of myself a bit, I was offered $1200 for it as a trade today and I think it was probably a pretty generous offer, all told.

The boy has named the car Joey Car Kristofferson.  I will very much miss having a car named Joey Car Kristofferson, to the point where I will probably insist that its replacement be named Joey Car Kristofferson II.  (My wife’s car, incidentally, is called Lisa Car James.  Don’t ask where the boy got the names.  No one knows.)

So anyway, I took that car up there for a test drive earlier today.  It’s a 2016 Kia Soul in the + trim level, with 28,000 miles on it.  It’s immaculately clean and seems to run beautifully.  It’s small– trunk space, in particular, is kind of a joke– but it fits my main need in a vehicle, which is that it rides high enough that I climb into the seat and slide out, rather than the other way around.  I refuse to struggle to get out of my car, which means I’ll never own a sedan again.  I’ve started to seriously hate them.  I test drove a brand-new Ford Escape a few months ago, and loved it, but financially I think it’s a better idea to go for a lightly used vehicle right now rather than a new one.  Unless I lease, which I might choose to do but <insert every website and argument about leasing ever> and my brain isn’t set up for that right now.

It’s just under fifteen thousand bucks, that car, and with the financing I’d expect to get I’d probably be making payments of just over $200 a month.  Which is in the neighborhood where I’m thinking Yeah, I can swing that rather than I can afford that.  To my mind, that’s a real difference; you can swing a new purchase if you can come up with some ways to cut costs that would absorb a lot of the new bill and figure you’ll be okay.  You can afford something if you don’t have to think at all about what you’ll do to pay for it.  For example, I can afford to spend $25-50 pretty much whenever I want so long as I don’t, like, do it every day.  But if I want to buy a new shirt or something?  I don’t have to think about that.  A car payment means I’m thinking things like well, I do eat out way too often anyway and I’m spending too much fucking money on comic books every week while I’m considering what it would do to my budget.  And the down payment would have to come out of our mutual savings, which my wife will likely have something to say about.  We did just drop three and a half grand on a new bed, after all.

I’m not sure I have a point here, and I don’t know if I’m asking for advice or just talking.  I just need to decide how quickly I think I need a new car, and whether I should buy a new one before I need a new one.

Go buy some of my books and make this easier, dammit.  🙂