Dents and Dings

Getting a new car is a big deal. Even though the fact is that most of the world does not have a new car, or for that matter any car, nor are they ever likely to have one.

Whether it’s a luxurious, deluxe vehicle with amenities the driver will never use, or at best use but once (electronic, mechanical seat adjustment, for instance), or an “economy” car compelling manual operations, the car’s very newness prompts a certain protective instinct.

What’s the point of getting a new car if one cannot keep it new-looking? Well, transportation, I suppose. Maybe reliability. But, those trifling, functionary and practical details aside, the so-called “pride of ownership” is revealed by owner attempts at keeping the new car new-looking.

Furiously scrubbing off bird poop within moments of its arrival, a permanent prohibition against drinking, smoking, ice cream-eating and other behavioral regulations are quickly enacted upon purchase of the new car. All “First World” problems, as they are today known.

Maintaining the car’s body in showroom condition requires heroic efforts.

Well-known is the Porsche-style of parking: sliding one’s car diagonally between the parallel lines that mark parking spaces.

It’s a nice idea, if a perfectly pointless one. The Porsche-park simply sets up a challenge among neighboring drivers with less-than-new cars.

“Let’s see just how far I can fling my door open and whether or not it will tap the sides of that carefully but crookedly parked vehicle next to mine.”

Once, I recall parking my relatively new car (horizontally) on the side of a hill in the widest space available and perfectly positioning it dead center in the space. (For those familiar, this was at Asheville, NC’s Grove Park Inn.) Doesn’t the person down the hill from me whack their door into mine!

If it was the car up the hill from my car, gravity would explain if not excuse the whack. But, nooooo. This driver, down the hill from me, had to exert effort to push (with two hands, one imagines) their door into mine.

Keeping the car’s body in mint condition and avoiding the careless dents and dings caused by others also result in distance parking.

Park so far away from where it is you are going to that no one in their right mind would bother driving to that place in the first place.

At the gym, I do this. It’s practically a ten-minute walk from the car to the gym. Which, of course, cuts 15-20 minutes off the time I’d otherwise spend on the Walkway-To-Nowhere (treadmill). See how that arithmetic works?

Parking the car at 5 a.m., it sits happily by itself, lonely and alone and content. But, when I’m finally ready to leave, 90 minutes later, my distantly located, well-shielded, carefully parked car is surrounded by others newer than my own.

However, all these other cars are parked respectfully, each leaving at least one empty parking space between the others. Apparently, this is the designated ding- and dent-free remote parking area.

A half dozen compulsive nuts who gladly trudge through rain and snow for the sake of auto body smoothness.

And despite the shared compulsion, we do not trust one another to get any closer than eight feet.

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