I was walking back towards our office when I saw a BMW car pass by. I thought, wow, what a really nice car, I wonder who’s driving it? Must be one of the guys on the 9th floor (the powers that be, the ones who run this institute). Then I saw the driver. To my surprise, I recognized the person driving the car. It was one of the janitress whom I occasionally see walking around holding a bucketful of stuffs for cleaning.
Another car drove by, not as stunning as the BMW, but it looked fancy just the same. And just as I thought, I recognized the driver to be another janitress who cleans our toilet. Both of them probably just got off from work and were on their way home. I couldn’t help but smile to myself. In this country, the people who clean the toilets get to go home earlier than the rest of us schmucks, and they get to drive those fancy cars. Only in Japan.
As for myself, I drive a ’93 old Honda Civic, which I bought about six years ago from an Indian researcher who was about to go back to his home country and was kind of desperate to get rid of his car (because apparently nobody else wanted it!). And never mind the cautionary tales they tell about buying stuffs from someone who’s about to go home. That Honda has never given me any problems, and even my mechanic tells me that it would last maybe until two more renewals of shaken (sha-ken, as in jidoshakensa, or motor vehicle inspection). I’ve just renewed my car’s shaken, so it’s still good for the next two years. And even if it doesn’t, well, what do you expect from a 15-year old car? I haven’t owned that many cars, but I do know that the older the cars get, the lesser their efficiency. Like people, they develop bodily and functional problems. And then they die a natural death.
I did toy around with the idea of buying a new car some years ago. And I mean a new, “new” car, not some secondhand car bought from someone who is only intent on selling the car to avoid paying for its disposal. My present car included, I’ve already had three cars. I figured that if ever I was to buy a new car, I better be the first owner. Otherwise, why buy? Sure, cars depreciate in value, but how many times in your lifetime do you buy new cars anyway??? Okay, perhaps that doesn’t sound very convincing. Truth is, Baggy wasn’t convinced either, and he held me in check before I could set foot in the nearest showroom.
Well, in the end I’m glad that I didn’t buy a new car, because now I feel rather differently towards cars and their values (monetary or otherwise). I’m still driving my Honda, and in fact I still love driving it. They say that drivers feel a kind of attachment to their cars, especially the ones which they’ve driven for a long time. I feel that kind of attachment now. Actually I even feel kind of nostalgic because the length time that I’ve been driving that car is almost the same as Aya’s age. She has been practically riding in that car ever since she was, well, a fetus. You see, I was 7 months pregnant when I started driving that car. And five days after our precious Aya was born in the hospital, we all rode that faithful Honda on the way back to our house. Aside from this, there are other precious memories like my Mom and Dad riding that car, driving that car on the way to the hospital, plus important events and places too many to mention.
Aside from our daily transportation within the city, I’ve driven that car to as far as Nikko, Kamogawa, Oarai, and countless times to Narita to send off and pick up people. Because we also travel frequently, my Honda’s a regular customer at the parking spaces for rent near the Narita airport. Two, three weeks after we had left, our car would be waiting for us at the parking lot, waiting for us to take it home.
Just today, when I had to move my car from the parking lot to let somebody’s car pass through, the car’s owner took one look at my car and laughed out loud. Why, you’re driving an old Honda Civic! You should buy a new car! I laughed, tried hard to ignore his remarks, and got in my car. I switched on the engine and it roared to life as it has always faithfully done so for the last six years.
Get rid of this car? He’s got to be kidding.