Saturday, December 29, 2012

Car ride

Meet Rosalita.

Yes. Rosalita is a car. A 2013 Subaru Impreza, to be exact. And she belongs to us.

...(and yes, she is named after a Bruce Springsteen song. Other options included "Candy" or "Jersey", but Hubby vetoed those)...

Although I have been driving since the tender age of fifteen-and-a-half (when I wrote the test for my learner's permit) Rosalita (or Rosie, for short) is my first car. That's over 20 years without a car of my very own. I suppose I could count the 1987 Dodge Aries K Car that my parents bought in the summer of 1995 so that I would stop borrowing their vehicles:

But who could be proud of being the driver of that ugly box on wheels? And besides, I only drove her for one summer before I went back to university and she was passed down to my sister. She hardly counts as a first car...

No, that honour goes to Rosie.

As to why I let two decades slip away without owning a car, well, I guess I just never really needed one. Both before and after Hubby, I have always lived downtown, close enough to either walk or cycle anywhere that I need to go, including work. And for really lazy days, there is always the bus, which is particularly easy for us since we live right on the transit way. Plus, I won't lie, I've enjoyed the caché that comes along with being the hipster couple that doesn't own a car. Some people really admire that, and, well, I like being admired.

But more and more, the inconveniences of not having a car have started to grate on my nerves. I've gotten tired of carrying groceries back with me on the bus. I hate having to rent a vehicle every single time I want to get away for a weekend. And most of all, I am sick of having to rely on friends to take me places when we decide to go out. As cool as it is to live the hip, urban lifestyle, not having a car has come with a price. We have had to sacrifice a certain amount of freedom and independence.

Despite my irritation, Hubby and I (mostly Hubby) were still not ready to take the automobile plunge. Until this happened:

That's right. Fergus happened. And Fergus needs a car.

First of all, he loves going for car rides. When he sees a car pull into our driveway, it takes both of us to hold him down so that he doesn't bolt through the front door and into the back seat of the car, where he will bark with delight until the vehicle starts moving.

Secondly, we like to do things with our dog. Like take him for herding lessons. Or enroll him in agility classes. Or hiking in the Gatineau Hills:

Or snowshoeing with his pals through the forest:

And, well, there are no forests or sheep farms in downtown Ottawa. Nor could the ever eccentric and completely overstimulated Fergus pass for a guide dog, which is the only way that he could get on a bus. And so instances of us doing some of this fun stuff with our pup are few and far between.

Thirdly, there is his health to consider. Although we have a vet who is a mere 3 blocks away, this clinic does not offer 24/7 emergency services. What if something happens to our guy, and we need to get him to a vet fast? And none of our car-owning friends are available? And it takes the pet taxi too long to come? What then?

And so it was that, about four months ago, when Hubby and I were going over our financial goals in preparation for our annual meeting with our financial advisor, I mentioned that I wanted us to buy a car before the end of the year. Hubby was convinced that we could go another year without the car. I told him that we could, but Fergus could not.

The next day, we had a plan to buy a new car. A few weeks later, we were making appointments for test drives. We found two that we liked: the Subaru Impreza and the Volkswagon Golf Wagon. For the next month, we agonized over the decision-making process. We liked the Impreza best, but the VW had more room. Would Fergus fit in the Subaru's hatch? What if we got it and it ended up being too small for him? What would we do then?

So we called a friend who has an older model of the Impreza, and she brought it over so that Fergus could check it out.

He fit like a glove, but we had to make doubly sure that he would fit in a 2013. So we called the dealer and asked if we could bring Fergus. Convinced that they would think this a strange request, they surprised us by saying yes. Off we went to the dealer, with the dog in tow. He was in heaven inside of a building with so many cars, frantically trying to jump into each and every one of them and whining and begging for us to take him for a ride. We finally got him into the Impreza, where he once again fit like a glove. And that's when we knew that this was our car.

A couple of weeks later and mere days before Christmas, with the help of a broker to do the negotiating for us, we closed the deal on a brand new car. On December 27th - a day when we were hit with 25+ cm of snow for the second time in less than one week - we rode the bus to the dealer's to pick her up, thankful that we had made the choice of going with a car that has all-wheel drive, and that we had asked them to equip her with a set of snow tires.

And so it is that I got behind the wheel of my very first and very own car in over two decades of being licensed to drive.

Bringing Rosie home in the snow

Although, let's be honest. It's really Fergus' car. Luckily, he's happy to share it with us. After all, someone has to chauffeur him around to all the sheep farms, forests, and other road trips that we will be going on now that Rosie is in our lives!