“So, are you down to one vehicle now?”
Okay, that caught me completely off guard. My wife and I had been talking about when we might downsize from two cars in the driveway to one. How often did we go two different places at the same time? Not as often as we did when we were both working. Wouldn’t it be sweet to only have to fuel up, insure, and maintain a single car?
He had retired a few years before and his wife was newly retired. Now they traveled together to visit family, run errands, and meet friends (like us) for lunch. They told inspiring stories of how they frugally learned to live simply yet richly in this new chapter of their life.
The fall colors were peaking on a warmish fall day as we walked around a lake. I should have remembered I was venturing onto dangerously thin ice when I assumed, “You must be down to one vehicle.”
“Three. And I think I’m going to buy a tractor.”
We’ve owned three cars in the past. We live in a town with no public transportation, so we had no choice but to drive everywhere. My wife and I would both head out in our cars for work, after saying, “Goodbye” to our children as one of them drove off to high school.
Three cars? One was a small pickup truck he had owned for nearly twenty years. That wasn’t going anywhere. Another smaller sedan was fine for running around town, but certainly wasn’t reliable enough for longer trips. So they needed a newer car as well.
A tractor? They lived on an acreage in western North Carolina. They had to maintain their own half-mile gravel driveway. They were also tearing down some old dog kennels, moving firewood closer to the house as winter approached, and dragging a gazebo to a different spot in the yard. Besides, he might have to dig a hole one day. Of course he needed a tractor.
My next-door neighbor and his wife have two Corvettes in their garage and two smaller cars parked in the driveway. Another neighbor has two vans and an SUV for the two of them. Two houses up from us, four SUVs are parked in the driveway.
I’m pretty sure my family only owned one car for years. My dad traveled to work in Philadelphia on the train, so we only needed one station wagon to haul everyone around. When my dad got a new job, he bought a second car for his commute. It was a yellow Ford Maverick with distinctive rusty trim. Once we three kids were grown and gone, they downsized to one Ford (my dad was a Ford fan) Tempo station wagon. They drove so few miles they changed the oil based on the calendar rather than the odometer.
One day we’ll decide one car or SUV or truck is enough. We’ll just have to decide what to own. Maybe we need something big enough to cart a lot of grandkids around in. Or maybe a sporty-two seater to zip around in. An electric vehicle? Something autonomous? We’ll see.