Sunday, June 6, 2010

You are what you drive, or you drive what you are

WARNING: this post is kind of banal.

The other day I was talking to my brother John and a story about our dad came up. My dad has plenty of money but is notoriously frugal about some things. There's nothing wrong, or even contradictory about this. You don't get rich (as Bill Gates fictionally said to Homer Simpson) by writing big fat checks. That's a pretty straightforward statement of a the pretty common value of frugality. My dad has long admired Benjamin Franklin; like Franklin, he values frugality, pragmatism, hard work, and practical knowledge. The story was simply this: my dad recently bought a new car, and they didn't have the base model he wanted at the dealership, only one with a "Sport" package. So he waited a month for the dealership to get a base model.

John thought this was a pretty weird thing to do; it certainly doesn't seem very pragmatic at first glance. But it wasn't really anti-pragmatic either; his old car was still running. There was probably a little bit of ideology involved; I can see my dad, like me, finding the idea of a "Sport" package on a car silly (the public roads aren't there for sporting, particularly considering the risks of aggressive driving). As Dad doesn't drive all that much, and Hondas usually hold up pretty well, I wouldn't be surprised if he got 20 years out of it. As he's over 50, there's a chance it could be his last car. When you consider those time frames against a one-month wait, the picture changes considerably.

So I doubt that Dad's decision to wait a month for a cheaper car to come in had much to do with short-term economics at all. It probably had more to do with feeling comfortable with the purchase in the long run. This is the sort of thing I've thought about a lot, and talked with Jess about a bit, regarding moving to Seattle: not letting short-term considerations push us into decisions we'll be unhappy with down the road. Although just about everything feels temporary now, I have to be sure to keep the long term in mind.

1 comment:

Danielle in Iowa in Seattle said...

I'm such a sucker for marketing. I'd be all over that sport model.