[this is a ymoyl update.]

after a few years of car freedom, i have reluctantly joined the car-owning public again. with the exception of a couple of trips to west virginia, i’ve used foot, bike, buses, and trains for my own use, but since glenn stopped driving, i’ve driven his car to take him on trips and to his appointments. unfortunately, his car was reaching the end of its life, required repairs that cost more than the car was worth, and needed to be replaced before winter.

i tried to think creatively of ways we could get around owning a car, but glenn is increasingly feeble and afraid of the unknown. there’s no way he’s going to sit in a wheelchair in the rain with me, waiting for the bus. a car is an unpleasant default, but i fell back to it as the best solution i could find. as long as we’re in glenn’s home of 40 years (where he feels safest and soundest), we’re creatures of suburbia, with all the limitations such creatures suffer.

my original idea was to buy a car for glenn as a gift, but, at the risk of sounding morbid, it occurred to me that if something were to happen to glenn tomorrow, i don’t want to be wrangling with his estate to try to retrieve my investment. i decided to buy one in my own name and go on using it for chauffeuring glenn and public transit for moving myself.

i wanted to find a reliable car that would get reasonable mpg, would be easy for glenn to get in and out of, would be easy for me to put the wheelchair in and out of, and could hold the wheelchair, glenn’s walker, and a couple of bags when we travel somewhere.

i settled on a pontiac vibe, which is actually a toyota matrix, only slightly less goofy-looking. it’s an odd coalition in which toyota builds the car and gm sticks different sheetmetal on it. it reminds me of some factories that friends showed me south of tucson. they said that products were brought to them from mexico, fully assembled except for the tightening of a couple of screws. workers in the factory would do that last bit of work and slap on a “made in the u.s.a.” label.

in this case, you get the reliability of a toyota engine and drivetrain, pay a little less because it doesn’t have a toyota logo on the grill, and can pretend you “bought american” if you like. i found this one at carmax. it had been a leased car and was returned to the lease holder after less than a year, with 2,700 miles on it.

i must admit to a sleepless night after the purchase and feeling a little sick at having my money tied up in this hunk of steel and glass. here’s hoping that it works out as well as it seems it will and that i get a reasonable amount back if i’m ever able to sell it and draw my money out again.

i’ve put photos here.

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