In the background on this Saturday morning I hear a cat using the couch in our upstairs den as a scratching post. I believe she would tell you this is one of her spiritual disciplines, the maintaining of her claws in as sharply useful condition as possible.
Yesterday, I went out with Pure Luck to look at hybrid cars, because I not only need a new car (the Solid Gold Volvo having reached a point of needing repairs worth more than a reasonable asking price), but I want this kind of major shopping choice to have its basis in a discipline rather than a desire or an impulse. The Solid Gold Volvo while not exactly an impulse purchase was definitely a response to the desire for a wagon with a sunroof, and the only other brand that had both was a Mercedes. That is one weird way to make a Volvo seem cheap, relatively, but it worked for me at the time.
So, we went to the Toyota dealership to find out what's going on in the land of the Prius. We discovered that a Camry can be purchased in a hybrid version, too, and thus began the sorting out of desires versus disciplines.
What do I really want in a car?
Well, in an isolated fashion, I want a car that is both kinder to the Earth and kinder to my weekly budget. I realize that to get this, or any car, I will have to pay a chunk of money, so I'm trying not to let that come too fiercely into the dialogue. I'm starting with the base-priced Prius as the ground of the discussion with myself, but before I had been on the car lot five minutes I could see it would not be so simple.
First, there are no available Prius models on the lot. Two have been 'awarded' to the dealership and may arrive by mid-June. Although websites would suggest you can choose the features you want, in actuality, not so much. In actuality, I couldn't test-drive a Prius, I could only sit in one purchased by someone else and not picked up yet. In actuality, there are two coming, and one is the basic, and the other has the "Touring Package," and the difference is 6 or so thousand dollars, and if you're looking at the more expensive, isn't there something appealing about the hybrid Camry that is about the same price but has the 8-way adjustable seats?
Hang on, need a breath here.
What do I really want in a car?
Pure Luck kindly pointed out that with my ongoing joint issues I might need to consider the ease of adjusting seats and mirrors and windows and steering wheel, although these are things he would never consider himself.
I suggested he could buy his own Prius, with no added frills and furbelows.
He made that noise like Lurch on The Addams Family.
I wasn't really irritated with him; I am irritated by my current limitations and the idea that they may not go away completely. It's certainly true that on a trip of ANY length in the Volvo, I do adjust the seat with some frequency. A seat that has limited adjustability might prove problematic.
Also, the Camry is pretty.
Okay, so you can see how quickly we get off the path, right? I want the car with the best mileage, but if I'm going to spend more to get the one with the back-up camera that helps compensate for the poor rear view, why not get the Camry?
Or do I really want the computerized display that tells me my exact miles per gallon? Wasn't that sort of the whole point?
And also, no pressure, but if I want either Prius, I really need to put down a deposit, like, yesterday.
All I wanted was an eco-friendly car–okay, a safe, eco-friendly car, though I realize I hadn't yet mentioned safety–and I don't care anymore about a sunroof–okay, I really like my sun roof, and my neighbor's new Hybrid Camry has one, so they are available, but if you get the dog-friendly leather interior, then you're jumping to a different price range–okay, how can I stop this merry-go-round?
We stopped it by saying "thank you" and driving away.
It's a day later, but we have the same questions, or I do. Sometimes I wish someone would just decide things for me, but I don't really mean that, and Pure Luck knows it. I wish the choices, or rather the right choice, could be more obvious.
If I start from the basis of my spiritual discipline of wanting to be kinder to the earth, then I should eliminate the Camry from consideration simply because it is nowhere close to as gas-friendly as the Prius.
If I start from the basis of only looking at the Prius, I then have to choose between back-up camera and no such thing. Also Bluetooth capability and leather-trim and a bunch of other fancy-sounding stuff that makes no difference to the gas mileage.
And so it goes.
Maybe it's not possible to buy a car using a spiritual discipline as the only guideline.
(But what do you think?)