Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ode to Mini

Today is kind of bittersweet for me.  I sold my Mini Cooper.

I bought it after I started working in Dubai because I had always wanted one since they started to make them again.  I was in Istanbul, which is the perfect city for one (small, hilly, winding roads), but cars are expensive there.  This is largely a result of the tax.  Since there is no tax in Dubai, many cars are much more affordable here.  We are also fortunate about the price of gasoline here.

I had the Mini for two years before my son was born and really enjoyed it.  I’m not that into cars and things, and love public transportation, but it is not that effective here so you need a car to get around.  My previous cars were always out of practicality, or what was affordable at the time.  This was the first time in my life that I bought a car that I wanted to enjoy.

It was great.  Cooper S, I picked the color I wanted (red with white top), even waited 3 months for a manual transmission.  As I wanted – except for the sunroof I “had” to get because either that or a convertible was “desert package”.   I think it’s a disguise for what I call “desert mark-up” to get customers to buy unnecessary features that you don’t want, but don’t tell them I said this.  They probably don’t mind anyway because in the end I had to settle for a sunroof so the heat of summer could shine down on me and heat my car to some crazy temperature much to the air-conditioning’s dismay.

When I discovered I was pregnant, I knew I would probably have to get something a little larger.  After all, the modern day stroller is about half the size of a Mini.  Add all the other things you tote around for children and there is not much space left for the child!

My son was born about one month earlier than expected.  I hadn’t even packed a ready-bag for the hospital much less bought a new car.  His arrival in conjunction with the revolving door of family visiting only concluded the inevitable – a “seven-seater urban assault vehicle”, as my friend Tasha so eloquently put it, would be necessary. 

I tested many and in the end went with a Volvo.  It wasn’t the model of Volvo that I was considering.  I actually found it kind of ugly at first site, but it was available, and my husband liked it.  He even convinced me to get red because “we wouldn’t loose our cool factor”?  Three years later this still almost makes me laugh out loud when I think about it.   It is great that it is easy to find in the sea of white cars in the parking lot here, but outside of that I don’t think it offers much for our cool status.  As my son is already a lover of sports cars at age three, if we continue to drive this vehicle it will have a diminishing margin of return on our appearance.

My husband drove the Mini for a while until he would find his next car.  At about the same time the economy crashed.  In Dubai there was suddenly an abundance of cars for sale as people were leaving town and liquidating.  We decided to wait to sell.  I knew I would eventually sell it as we do not need the extra car, and I do not feel safe having a child in a small car here.   This was confirmed one evening shortly after I moved to Dubai while driving my husband’s car down Sheikh Zayed Road.  An SUV of some sort went past me so close and so quickly I felt like a plane buzzed by.  I am not exaggerating – it shook his very heavy, German car and I do not flinch that easily.

I know selling it was the logical, responsible thing to do, but I miss it.  I didn’t expect to miss it, but I do.  Sadly, it is now in Abu Dhabi with a nice Croatian woman, who like me is a fan of the Mini Cooper.

If I am honest, maybe my sadness is not about the car, but more about the reality of what the car represents?   Shortly after I bought the Mini, a friend of mine told me she read an article that stated people who buy Mini Coopers are buying into a lifestyle.  At the time I wasn’t buying into a lifestyle – it was my lifestyle!  So now I drive a Volvo, and that is my lifestyle and technically has been for three years.  I no longer have another car to escape to where I can listen to my playlists and pretend otherwise.   It is what it is, but with any luck someday I will drive a Mini again.

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