Saturday, August 01, 2009

Back to Boch

Faithful readers may recall my bittersweet experience at Boch Toyota for the premium-price purchase of a hybrid Highlander. Today I drove my 1998 BMW 238i 4-door sedan down to the dealership to get what I could for it -- I couldn't qualify for "cash for clunkers" because the car is listed at 20 miles per gallon at 130,000 miles, and the threshold is 18 miles per gallon. Pulling off Route 1 with steam billowing from the hood wasn't exactly a position of strength. I said at my book party Thursday at Tory Row in Harvard Square in Cambridge that it was the ghost of Jane Jacobs, scolding me for using the car so much; accordingly I took the T to get my seersucker suit at Brooker Brothers, and lugged a jerry can of coolant in a tote bag. Anyhow, Boch granted me a pittance for the beemer, and I must say I was a tiny bit emotional leaving the old rig, 10 years later. The car served me well, and I loved the peppy way I could drive it, the singular and slightly smug feeling, pulling up to a valet. It's a window into American culture -- car as identity, the vehicle you love to care for and pull through the car wash. As of today I have moved from car that symbolizes other things, to car as transportation. From the vehicle I dabbed with Armour-All wipes, to the car that keeps my eye on the Tie-fighter like readout, displaying how I'm getting 50 miles to the gallon, how I'm on battery power, emitting no greenhouse gas emissions. I'm finally walking the walk. It's a new era, and one I think we're all going to have to enter.


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