Tomorrow morning, I awaken to walk into the abyss. I know I’m being overly dramatic, but I am returning my rental car and beginning a period of car-less existence. Passover is a holiday which celebrates the Children of Israel’s freedom from the Egyptians and us Jaffes are, with some concerns, becoming free from our car. Perhaps nothing defines mankind over the last century better than the car. That vehicle contributed to world wide economies, not only because cars are shipped over the world, but because they provide an ease of travel unparalleled throughout history. Cars, and the combustion engines which were developed to power them, mean that modern man can work anywhere, live anywhere, and be independent of his natural, physical surroundings. Turn up the radio, turn on the air-conditioner, and you are free. Nothing but the empty road ahead.
We identify ourselves through our cars and I am for sure not exempt. I didn’t just own the Red Luxury Toyota Land Cruiser, I was the Red Luxury Toyota Land Cruiser, long gone from my life like a dodo bird. It pained me to lose that car, it was like losing a good friend and a part of my psyche.
It was a big shift from that car to the next, a gray, nondescript Toyota Corolla. How many times did I ask out loud, “Who’s visiting me?” only to realize that the car in the driveway was mine. The Corolla became a reliable way to get my family around and satisfy our needs. It wasn’t always comfortable; the Corolla sat 5 and we were 10 (me, 6 kids, daughter-in-law, 2 grandsons), but we found the comfort of sharing, compromising, and finding our way around. It got decent gas mileage, wasn’t terribly expensive to maintain, and had plenty of space for all kind of stuff a car with that many people relying on it accumulates. Random strollers, empty wine bottles and books waiting to be given away, lived comfortably for months in the Corolla, without bothering anyone.
The Corolla met its death through no fault of its own. While parked on the side of the highway, waiting for someone to come and change a flat tire, it was hit (side-swiped, Asaf corrects me) by a truck which crossed the yellow line at full speed (120 km/hr). And just like that, it was over. Thank God, Asaf and I are fine, but not so for the Corolla. The Corolla, which was almost 10 years old, received enough damage for it to be rendered a “total loss”.
Next came the car provided as a stop-gap by the insurance company “until they settle out the claim”; but that will take some time, my insurance agent tells me. The Kia Picanto was the car we received. It fit comfortably 4 people and enough luggage for the Jaffes, which is to say, not much. We can get one trip to the grocery store in the trunk if there isn’t anything else in there. Shortly after picking it up, we took our yearly family trip (previously scheduled) to Eilat. The car drove nicely and the gas mileage was fantastic. I have to say, it’s been 16 years since I drove a new car (really new, not just new-to-me) and it was pretty nice.
Alas, the insurance only pays for 2 weeks, and that ends tomorrow. Seeing that we haven’t gotten a settlement from the Corolla, my son and daughter-in-law are in the throes of building a new house, and none of the trees in the yard yields money, we have opted for trying out the no-car thing in the short term. Truth is, thank God, I will be very busy with work over the next few months, and investing in a car right now so that it can sit in the driveway and I can wave at it when I come home, seems silly.
Israel has terrific public transportation and we have kind neighbors. We can rent a car short term and we can take taxis. Israelis are flexible and find solutions to all kinds of technological challenges, I am sure that the Jaffes are going to find our way through the transportation maze with resolve and creativity.