Friday, April 2, 2010

Vehicular humility

After dinner, we walked to the park to see if we could find enough wind to fly the new kites Lisa bought for the girls. Each kite had a moment of glory, but the intermittent breeze deflated our ambitions. We came home not too disappointed, but not exhilarated either. On the way to the park and back we passed, an old orange AMC Gremlin that has been stranded in a driveway for a few weeks. It's apparently someone's project car. For those who are too young to recall the Gremlin, they are ugly.

As a teenager, I was much more interested in sleeker designs. Mustangs, Corvettes, Camaros, or Pontiac Firebirds and GTO's captivated a portion of my imagination that a Gremlin never could. The paint colors on the Gremlins were faddish but painful. Lisa and I talked about our youthful memories of Gremlins until I blurted out, "I used to drive an orange Datsun pickup. That was my first lesson, in vehicular humility."

Before I could say, "Well, maybe not," Lisa was shaking her head saying, "No, I don't think so!" She remembered the "Gold Bomb." I knew it as a 1967 Chevy Impala with the three-on-the-tree shifter and a 283, not even a 327, although my grandmother drove an Impala with a 327. When I was 16, I drove her car to work in the cornfields near Bethany, MO. Racing other teens back to town proved the virtues of the small block V8, but my 283 never topped 95 mph, and it took a mile to reach that speed. I could drive my dad's Volkswagen van nearly that fast, as Lisa and a Lenexa, KS police officer can attest. He went airborne over the top of a hill catching up to me. That rear-view mirror image is forever etched in my memories of not-so-great ideas.

The 1976 Datsun pickup was probably the most atrocious vehicle I ever owned. Before we moved to Iowa in 1996, Lisa sold it to a group of non-English speaking migrant workers for $250. Somehow she managed to communicate to them that if they wanted the truck, they had to take the camper shell, too. Several piled in and the ones in back held the "topper" in place as they drove away.

We've purchased new cars a couple times. In 1996 we traded in our first new car (a 1994 Saturn SL2 five speed), for a 1997 Saturn SL1 automatic. Cara drove that car to Maryland to college in 2003 and used it as her sole means of ground transportation until recently. Lisa drives it now, though she doesn't venture far from home.

When our used Ford Explorer became too expensive to repair, I downsized to a 1994 Saturn SL2. The fabric headliners in both our old Saturns are pinned to their backing and they each have quirks. Nevertheless, with regular oil changes, and minimum maintenance, we intend to drive our old Saturns until it becomes impractical. In the mean time, I'm thankful for my cost-effective ride to the office each day. My automotive priorities have changed. I realize that new cars become old cars but not until a lot of money is wasted.

After our reminiscing about clunkers we've driven and the vehicular humility we've experienced, it occurred to Lisa that we have a good role model in this regard.

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away." This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

"Say to the Daughter of Zion,
'See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"

Matthew 21:1-5 (NIV)


  1. "Vehicular humility" ... I think I understand the concept, but this is my first time to hear that expression.

  2. Thanks for visiting "For Your Names' Sake," I enjoyed visiting your blog as well.

    I'm not sure "vehicular humility" qualifies as an expression, it just came out when I was talking about my old cars.

    I think the adjective "vehicular" is most often paired with the nouns "homicide" or "assault," together describing violent, usually reckless crimes. As such, "Vehicular humility" might be considered a crime against one's self image. While the world builds up human egos, believers are called to be like Christ.

    I'm sure that God doesn't care so much what model car believers drive, but he does care about our prideful hearts. "God resists the proud, but shows favor to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)

    Here is another (more theological) post on Christ's humility:

    Thanks again for stopping by. I hope to hear from you again.