January 14, 2004
Car identity crisis

So we bought a new car just after Christmas, a Subaru Outback which in a less enlightened time would be called a "station wagon" but is now known by its more politically correct moniker, the "four-door hatchback". It's Tiffany's car - she wanted it, she researched it, she did all the legwork, I was just along to sign some paperwork - and she's thoroughly smitten with it. I'd like it too if I were its regular driver, but except for when we're going someplace together - given the choice between driving and napping in the passenger seat, Tiffany will choose the latter 100% of the time - she's the one driving it.

That gave us one more car than we needed for the two of us, which meant that my car had to go. It's older than her previous car and isn't in as good shape, so it made sense to do that. As of today, it's being borrowed by a friend whose parents are in town, then when we get it back we'll be selling it to our next-door neighbors.

In the meantime, I'm driving Tiffany's old car, and will do so until it's time to replace it, which won't be for at least two years if it doesn't break down. This has given me a bit of an identity crisis, because I still think of this car as being hers. In my mind, we have "her car" and the new car. There's no "my car".

Objectively, that's ridiculous. I'm driving it, so it's my car. Maybe I'll feel differently in time, but I think one reason why I can't bring myself to think of it as "my car" is because it doesn't feel right to me. The radio buttons still need to be set properly, there's no CD player, the driver-side seat belt doesn't retract properly (which annoys the crap out of me), the window and door-lock buttons are in the wrong place, etc etc etc. I feel like I'm in a loaner.

So. Any advice on how I can snap out of this? Maybe if I gave a name to the sensation - Displaced Car Owner Syndrome, or something like that. I could form a self-help group and come up with a 12-step plan. What do you think?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 14, 2004 to See, I do have a life! | TrackBack

I don't know. Let me know when you work it out, because my wife has been driving the "new car" for 6 months, and I'm stuck in "her car".

Posted by: Morat on January 14, 2004 1:23 PM

Damn, Morat! This problem is worse than I thought. Anyone else out there in this boat?

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 14, 2004 1:28 PM

Nine years after my Dad died, leaving me his then-brand-new Chevy Cavalier, I still sometimes find myself talking about "Dad's car." And I'm the only one driving it... good luck on establishing a nomenclature in a two-driver household!

Posted by: Steve Bates on January 14, 2004 2:26 PM

geez, isn't there someone you can sue? maybe the dealer who sold your wife a new car, or maybe the manufacturer of the car that is so clearly at fault in causing you discomfort? i say, do a little research, see which entity has the greatest assets, and then sue 'em all anyway. is there any way you can allege an element of racial, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, stature, girth, or disability bias?

Posted by: abelard on January 14, 2004 2:27 PM

I would sue Subaru for making you "Car Ownership Challenged" and depriving you of an opportunity of owning "your own" car. Then I would sue the fast food industry, since everyone else is. ;-)

Posted by: William Hughes on January 14, 2004 2:36 PM

Chuck, the Outback won't be a "four-door hatchback" much longer -- they're about to re-classify it as a "light truck" for EPA purposes.


Posted by: Jeff N. on January 14, 2004 2:39 PM

Holy crap, does this mean we bought an SUV without realizing it? I'm going to go lie down on the light rail tracks now.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 14, 2004 3:17 PM

It won't be a "truck" until the new model comes out, but you were oh-so-close.

Posted by: Jeff N. on January 14, 2004 3:33 PM

Mr. Bates, I suffered the same indignity. When my Dad passed away I ended up with his (gah!) Chrysler LeBaron, which I drove for about four years. In my case I continued to call it "his" car because I hated it, but my T-Bird had died a miserable death and been hauled off to the ironmongers, so I needed it.

Posted by: Linkmeister on January 14, 2004 4:08 PM

Your true inner self wants to drive a Toyota Prius. Only then will you be driving YOUR car.

Posted by: Charles E on January 15, 2004 3:26 AM

I seem to recall you accusing our Outback of being an SUV some 5 or 6 years ago, but I disagreed with you then and I still disagree with you, so welcome to the club.

Oddly, the VW is only in Valerie's name, and the Outback is in both our names, so already I only partial onwnership of one car. And as soon as there is a little snow and ice on the ground, she uses it, since it is "safer for the kids". That wasn't an issue in Austin, but it seems to come here more regularly!

Posted by: David on January 15, 2004 7:47 AM

Charles, I'll soon be in the same spot: my wife is shortly going to get a new CR-V; we'll trade in my old CR-V (no need for two of them, plus mine is older than her current car), and I'll drive her Accord for a couple of years. And in my mind, it will always be her Accord.

Why not just an outright swap, where she drives my CR-V for awhile? It's a manual transmission; she can't drive a stick.

Posted by: Jeff Cooper on January 15, 2004 3:06 PM

Why not get a can of "new car smell" and spray it around the car? That might help fool your brain into no longer thinking of it as "her car."

Posted by: Kenneth Fair on January 15, 2004 5:43 PM