My 1992 Honda Accord Wagon
I am the very proud and thankful owner of a 1992 Honda Accord LX station wagon with well over two hundred thirty thousand miles on the odometer. Her name is Blue. She looks black but she’s actually a dark blue. She’s on her second engine and second automatic transmission. She’s had her brake system rebuilt, cooling system replaced, exhaust system replaced, and the suspension rebuilt, although the struts need to be replaced again. She’s been completely painted and had her windshield replaced just last year. Unfortunately, the air conditioning went out and I couldn’t find a reasonably priced replacement for the compressor hose that went bad and after a brief search I decided to just live with the problem. But, the power windows, door locks, cruise control, side mirrors, and everything else still works although the driver’s window has gotten a little slow.
If you look closely you’ll see a big dent in the passenger-side rear quarter panel. Woke up one morning after spending the night at my brother’s house and found the dent in the side. She was parked on the street and somebody ran into her over the night. The same day someone knocked out the passenger-side headlight and I went ahead and had both of them replaced because I hate the idea of one of my headlights being brighter or clearer than the other. There’s a deep scratch on the driver’s side that goes across both of the doors. The hood is full of paint chips and some of the exposed metal has oxidized a bit. Otherwise there is no rust. The car is only a four cylinder, but she’s only getting like twenty-five miles to the gallon on a combination of city and highway driving. She always starts and she doesn’t smoke or burn oil. I bought her in 2000 for the grand price of five grand cash money. All that said I must confess that I love my little wagon. I try to keep her clean and regularly waxed. And I only pay for liability insurance.
I can easily afford a new car. But for the life of me I don’t know why I would want to put myself in debt to get one. The average price of a new car is running somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty-five thousand dollars. I must confess I looked at a 2007 Honda Fit. But that car is running about sixteen thousand dollars. According to the April 2007 edition of the Road & Track magazine a Fit should be good for somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty-six miles to the gallon. The magazine actually reported 33/38 so I’m splitting the difference and giving the Fit the benefit. From my calculations, when the cost of gas goes up to four dollars a gallon, my wagon cost sixteen cents a mile to drive while the Fit would cost about eleven cents for a savings of five cents per mile. In order to cover the cost of the replacement, and if somebody gave me about a grand for my Accord, I’d have to drive that new car nearly three hundred thousand miles just to cover the cost of the car. I would consider the extra cost of insurance for the Fit but I’ll counter that against the extra cost for maintenance on the Accord for an estimated wash out.
Blue is one of the oldest foreign cars still rolling down the road in my neck of the woods. As status conscious as many people are these days I would be willing to bet that many people look at me and my Blue and jump to all sorts of presumptions about my ability to purchase another more modern or stylish vehicle. A black man driving a fifteen year old wagon with a serious dent and scratches must be down on his luck and doesn’t have the funds or the financial credit to replace it. Maybe so. But nevertheless I just don’t see going into debt merely to placate my ego while other people make money off of my desire to be judged more financially worthy by my supposed peers. Even if I had financial pockets deep enough to do a cash deal on a new car I seriously doubt if I could stomach investing the resources to replace Blue for nothing more than a whim.
Various methods are employed to try and convince us that social protocols demand that our self worth is directly tied to how we look, what we drive, where we go and where we live, and who our peers think we are. These are the same social pressures that convince many black people that they need to abandon black neighborhoods as soon as we’re financially able. Black people deserve a house more befitting successful people. We deserve a car that lets people know that we have arrived unlike all the other black people. We deserve clothing and accessories from the best designers. We deserve to go on the best vacations to places like Disney World Incorporated who can give a rat’s ass about black patrons visiting their theme parks. We deserve the finest bling money can buy. And we deserve to go into debt just as much as anyone else. Bill Cosby should be chastising black people for not doing our part to make sure corporate America makes billions of dollars off of our collective nickels and dimes.
Regardless of the social pressures our common sense says keep your financial exposure to the absolute minimum. Living on the edge of financial ruin can add way too much stress to our lives. Too much debt is like living with a financial time bomb that can explode at any minute. As a whole black people face more financial exposure in an attempt to live larger than necessary. More financial institutions are implementing predatory usury procedures on the black community to give more people more money then they need or deserve. Rent to own furniture and appliance stores have been busted for charging people stratospheric interest rates for brand new stuff that looks a lot like stuff you can get from a Goodwill store. The payday loan services charge seriously stupid fees to loan a few hundred dollars for a short period of time. The equivalent of their annual interest rate runs something like four hundred percent And once the Pandora’s box of credit is opened many people spend the entire rest of their lives trying to get that box closed so they can get the credit monkey off their back.
If something happened to my Accord, an accident or another major repair, I just may be forced into buying another vehicle. I wouldn’t mind getting another car when circumstances demand the purchase. But me buying another car just to keep up with, if not ahead of, the Joneses just isn’t going to happen. So here’s to another two hundred thirty thousand miles with Blue, my 1992 Honda Accord LX wagon which I am very proud and thankful to own.