Another One Bites the Dust

File this under ‘how to save money so you can buy a boat’, ‘downsizing’, or ‘preparing to cruise’, whichever you prefer. Mike and I are trying to live more frugally lately and this means that at times we have to make choices. Suffice to say I ran smack up against my definition of self, otherwise known as ‘ego’, this week. Turns out this whole idea of saving money is making me a pretty cheap date.

Recently 3 seemingly unrelated things happened: We sold my Mazda van, and our daughter moved to an apartment in Seattle, on her own once more. She left her 1994 Toyota Camry behind forever, sitting in our driveway. Then our son came home for the summer. I had been driving his cute little Toyota Matrix, a car both versatile and attractive. Astute readers will see the handwriting on this wall by now.

This is what I usually drive. Cute, versatile.

When a son returns home for the summer, he wants his car and because the car belongs to him (and I promised he could have it back) I am currently without vehicle. I need to get to work. We considered our options, including riding the bus (but I have to find a way to the bus stop) and buying a scooter to be ridden in the summer. Cute, but not very versatile. Trouble is, we don’t want to replace one vehicle with another. That’s not part of our plan.

“But wait!”, you may think. “Don’t you have the old Camry?”. Oh. Yes. We. Do. Let me tell you about this car. We bought it for $5000 when our daughter was a Junior in highschool. She has driven it for 10 years. Driven it only. Not actually cared for it. It has 270,000 miles on it (Long live Toyota!). It has had several minor skirmishes with various fences, gates, and other vehicles and apparently we don’t believe in spending money fixing cosmetic things on old cars.  Think of the damage as war wounds. The windshield is cracked, the doors don’t lock properly, the windows will roll down but then won’t roll up, steering is decidedly wavy, the dashboard is cracked, and it leaks like a sieve… as in there was a small lake on the passenger’s side of the car and Mike actually found large mushrooms growing in the back. I am not making this up.

The Camry was a fine looking automobile. That's past tense.


Understand, we have never driven new cars, believing a new car to be a profound waste of money. We do not even drive late model cars, as a general rule. We pretty much see cars as a means of transportation. We like them reliable, safe, inexpensive, and fuel efficient. So we don’t really think of cars as being reflections of our true selves, but there’s a limit and I thought I’d reached it when faced with this transportation issue.

I contemplated driving the Camry. Mike had spent considerable time and energy drying it out and cleaning it up. But still, it’s a car from 1994. I don’t even remember that long ago. I don’t think Andrew even existed yet.  I thought about clients and colleagues sizing me up as I pulled into the parking lot in this ‘vehicle’. I thought about the fact that as a middle aged woman, I am already part of a segment of the population that people don’t take very seriously, as though my usefulness as a human being is nearing its expiration date. (If you think this isn’t true, you are either not a middle aged woman, you are not paying attention, or both.) In short I was thinking, ‘What will people think of me?’. I ran smack up against ego, once more! Damn! Will it never end? Where is the part of me that gives less than a rat’s ass about the judgments of others? I know she’s around here somewhere…

I contemplated driving the car to the park and ride, taking the bus to work. It would actually be fine as it stops just a few blocks from my office and I would enjoy the walk. That was the plan for today.

Then I found myself driving to the park and ride in pouring rain, without an umbrella. I would get soaked walking the few blocks to my office. Unacceptable. So I drove to work. And you know what? It wasn’t bad. I studiously ignored any looks from other drivers. Maybe there weren’t any. I’ll never know. There is a sunroof and great visability in that car; much better visability than the Matrix. And the sound system is terrific! I pulled into the parking lot with my hearing aids vibrating to ‘Another One Bites the Dust’.

Can I allow my self-imposed persona of the professional woman who drives above-average looking, versatile cars give way to the part of me that wants to be frugal for the sake of living the rest of our lives on our own terms? Yep. I can. I’ve always been a bit of a rule breaker, even when I’ve made the rules myself. Another one bites the dust, indeed!

My new ride!


10 thoughts on “Another One Bites the Dust

    • Yeah, well a promise is a promise. I’ll get his car back in the fall when he goes back to school. Then we’ll probably sell this one, before the rainy season starts again and it becomes a lake!

  1. Right on! As Lulu said to me after reading this, “Good for you, Melissa.” You could always remove the other 3(?) hubcaps so all your wheels matched. And the no-hubcaps look seems to work for cop cars so why not? As long as that beast fires up (almost) every time, you’re good to go. We’ve also had cars with mushrooms growing in them. Still got us to work and back home again. That car looks to be a damn sight better than any of the taxis we’ve ridden in here in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.

    • The beast is extremely reliable, in fact. Maybe you know a taxi driver in Mexico who’d like to buy a car when we’re finished with it!

  2. Great post! I also drive a beat-up Toyota Camry, with a big dent in the back thanks to my daughter backing into it right outside the house … LOL! I must admit my Camry is newer … a 2005, but it’s been paid off for 3 years now and I love not having a car note! This car should get me through till the day we “sail away”.

    Good for you for crossing to my side! I’m a real estate agent, so a decent car is important in making a good impression. But, instead of spending over $1000 bucks to fix my damaged car …. I just tell a new client that it “just happened” and please excuse it! They never know the difference … LOL!

    BTW. thanks for adding us to your site and we’ve done the same!

    • I have an old friend who’s a real estate agent on San Juan Island. She occasionally carts her clients around in her Jaguar. Now, to me, if my real estate agent is driving a Jag, it tells me they’re making way too much money and should maybe lower their commission a bit.
      -Steve (aka “El Cheap-o”)

      • We’ll keep your old friend in mind as we decide where to retire after we’re finished with cruising, if there is ever a day when we’re done. We’ve thought many times about having a place in the San Juans. We prefer the Gulf Islands, but, after all, they are in Canada and we’re not sure how that works. When we get serious about it we’ll find out, though. If we call your friend, we’ll try to overlook the fact of the Jaguar. I figure that car spends more time in the shop than on the road anyhow. More trouble than it’s worth in my opinion. The agents in the San Juans are probably the only ones still making any money.

    • All right! I’ve joined the ranks of would-be cruisers. Love the excuse that is ‘just happened’! Wish I could use that one myself, but the rust in the damaged areas give it away pretty easily. I think I’ll just use the ‘bold as brass’ approach and tell people exactly why I’m driving that car, if they are rude enough to ask. Glad our sites ‘found’ each other! Those of us who are in the planning stages need all the support we can get, and it helps to have other people who are not-quite-cruisers-yet in the loop.

    • It’s an on-going process, this conquering thing. Welcome! I love your blog and look forward to catching up with it. I’m worried about our honeybees. They always arrive a little later than the bumbles, but this year I haven’t seen any yet. I hope they are just late, not absent. I love having them in my garden and think about the possibility of beekeeping when we get back from our travels. We also consider living in the Gulf Islands of BC. So I’ll be spending some time on your site! Thanks for joining us!

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