Companionable – 2 smart guys and their cars
“The attachment of the modern American to his (or her) automobile, and the symbolic role played by his (or her) car . . . this is where the study of American mythology should begin. . . Meditation on the automobile, what it is used for, what it stands for . . . might leads us at once right into the heart of all contemporary American problems.” – Thomas Merton
This weeks photo challenge reads in part: You might think “companion” refers to a person with whom you share experiences, but the definition is much broader . . .
A person who is frequently in the company of, associates with, or accompanies another.
A mate or match for something.
A handbook or guide.
Here goes my take on Companionable: a different kind of love affair – with the automobile.
About 10 years ago my friend Mike asked me if I’d heard about the new Smart Car? Each of our spouses had changed their career paths and headed for new horizons ‘down island’. Our jobs didn’t move with them. Mike resulted in travelling a weekly 300 mile (500 km) return commute. Mine was a once monthly 600 miles return journey from the north to the south tip of Vancouver Island. The bonus was that for eight years Francis and I loved to explore British Columbia’s beautiful capital, Victoria.
Mike is a Power Engineer – he’s the guy in the power plant running formula’s to make sure steam boilers don’t blow sky high. So Mike is a smart guy. He understands the laws of physics, and he doesn’t like to waste energy. That’s his job.
Both of us needed reliable cars so we did a some math, and ergo, the economics favoured a smart car. Over those years we certainly traveled light. By the way – contrary to popular belief, Smart Cars are safe . They’re built like a nut shell and hard to crack.
When oil peaked in 2008, just before the US housing bubble burst (and don’t forget the bank bail-out too), I admit having mixed feelings to report that Mike and I reaped amazing compound savings from the exceptional fuel economy.
My Smart Car fuel costs had risen from $40.00 to 55.00 per trip, but fuel for my old truck would have risen from $120.00 to a $165.00 per trip. It is ironic that the increased fuel costs, also increased my savings when I drove the Smart Car – from $80.00 per month to $110.00 per month.
This simple rule of ‘compound savings’ is true with all energy efficient products – from small cars to compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Energy prices surely rise. Choosing to buy Energy Star, even with the extra capital cost, will provide a constantly increasing dividend.
An added bonus is maybe we’ll stop cooking the planet . . .
A different kind of Companion: A good old book!
America has 5% of the worlds population and uses 25% of the world’s resources, much of it wasted energy. Australians and my fellow Canadians don’t do much better.
Although the book above dates back to 1974, the tips are more than applicable today.
There are simple things people can do to conserve energy and improve life. How about to slow down while driving? Lets examine the chart below, for driving a 1973 Camaro.
Slowing down from 80 miles per hour (@ 11.5 mpg) to 60 miles per hour (@ 15.5 mpg) saves 44% in gas. In other words, a trip that costs $14.40 barrelling along at 80 mph, will cost only $10.00 driving at a more sane pace of 60 mph.
Slowing down while driving saves money and the environment. We can also enjoy the scenery and have a safer journey!
The full text of Merton’s American meditation on the automobile:
“The attachment of the modern American to his automobile, and the symbolic role played by his (or her) car, with its aggressive and rubric design, its useless power, its otiose gadgetry, its consumption of fuel, which is advertised as having almost supernatural power – this is where the study of American mythology should begin . . .”
“Meditation on the automobile, what it is used for, what it stands for – the automobile as weapon, as self advertisement, as a means of suicide, etc. – might leads us at once right into the heart of all contemporary American problems: race, war, the crisis of marriage, the flight from reality into myth and fanaticism, and the growing irrationality of American mores.” – Thomas Merton
Yuck! I say, let’s try something different:
Two smart guys with Dr. Seuss, and a Chevy Volt!
or, how about a plug in Prius . . .
Times change. Mike and I no longer need the long commute. Hence our automobiles also changed.
Recently Mike’s son got married. My good friend leaned over during the evening after a few beverages, and somewhat confidentially said, “Bruce – I miss my Smart Car.” And so do I Mike.
There you have it – Companions. Two smart guys, and their cars.