I left my bike at work last Friday, which meant that this morning I drove JP to school (yes, I could have taken the bus, but come on–I’m a man here, folks). Anyway, as I think is fairly customary at schools in Brooklyn, the traffic cops allow parents dropping off their children to double park outside of the school for the 10-15 minutes or so it takes to get little Johnny situated. Not for the first time, I noticed that the cars idling outside of the pre-school were pretty fair examples of high-style European automotive technology. I, too, have such a ride–a bitchin’ 1998 BMW 7-series, with most of the trimmings still in good repair.
Before you accuse me of some sort of Veblen-esque display of conspicuous consumption, let me explain. I like my car, but I’m definitely a little uncomfortable owning it. Under ordinary circumstances, such a vehicle would be way beyond my pay grade. In fact, a Red Flyer wagon is beyond my pay grade this days.
The car provokes one of those weird urban moments where I’m unpacking JP from the car, about to trundle him off to his fancy semi-fancy inner city “summer camp” (translation: daycare with sprinkler), and I want to have a brief conversation with all the people on the street, explaining how it is I’ve come to possess a car that, when new, cost over $100,000. Unfortunately, I can’t chat with everyone. There’s only so much of me to go around.
But if I could I’d tell them how my stepfather is a mechanic who, from time to time, comes across great deals on cars. The BMW, which he bought for $50 was one such deal. And yes, he could have sold the car for a tidy little profit, so definitely I’m getting an obscene benefit here, but the car has about 250,000 miles on it, gets about .000001 miles per gallon in city traffic, and generally leaves me feeling like the sort of dickhead who wants to explain to total strangers that he isn’t in finance. Thank you, stepfather. Really, the car is great. I’m just feeling class alienation this morning.
Maybe I should go with a sign. I could put it on the window or something.