I own an SUV.
Contrary to what seems to be growing public opinion, my decision to drive this vehicle is not based on any sense of it being a status symbol. In fact, I tend to avoid any item (designer clothes, handbags, shoes, etc,) that would appear “posh.” LOL! It’s one of the quirks to my personality. (I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day with all my quirks.)
Owning a large vehicle also does not mean I am an evil person bent on destroying the world.
I do not like feeling that I am being demonized in our society because I own a large vehicle. I have seen the looks. I have heard the comments. I have read the accusations. I do not feel fairly represented.
While I am not fully convinced of all the current arguments about carbon footprints and such, I do agree that we have been given a responsibility to take care of our environment and that we (as a human race) have often failed miserably at it. I am no scientist…and yield to the fact that I do have much to learn in this life…but there is no way that you can tell me that I am doing more harm driving my truck (that we keep maintained and in good running order) than the little cars I see chugging along spewing out black smoke behind them. I just don’t buy it…and think the recent additional taxes added to large vehicles like mine are unfair.
I do agree that we can all do more to lessen the negative impact we have on the world around us. I don’t litter and I teach my children that it’s wrong to do so. We turn off the lights (and other electrical items) in rooms we are not using at the moment (and echo the nagging of the generations of parents before us when we tell our kids to do the same). We are learning ways of not wasting water or other resources. I recycle what I can, which, by the way, differs in every location we have lived. I have enjoyed the amount of recycling opportunities in this area…since it’s the most we’ve ever had the ability to do. Some areas we are slowly making changes...like making it a goal to walk to places within reasonable walking distance instead of driving...and asking for paper bags instead of plastic ones.
We can always do more to make this world a better place. Whether it be physically (taking care of the environment) or emotionally/spiritually (taking care of the people around us)…I’m all for that.
In 1996, we moved to a location where we were within a day’s drive of some of our family. I was pregnant with our second child and our first son was still in a car seat. I was making these six-hour road trips back and forth nearly every weekend. We had not lived that close to family in a long time and we craved their company. : ) Trouble was, I felt so vulnerable when I’d have to help my son get into his car seat at every stop. My back was to the world and if anyone wanted my car or my child, I would be an easy target since I really didn’t have eyes in the back of my head (LOL…they say moms have those…I was still waiting for mine to appear). I wanted a minivan so that we could all get in the same door, lock it and then I could get kids into car seats and not have to fear someone bad gaining access to us easily.
In 1997, I witnessed, and came within a few feet of being involved in, a fatal multi-vehicle accident. I nearly ran over the man who died in that crash (he had been thrown from his vehicle that had somersaulted in the air and came to rest upside down). I saw the injuries. I saw the dying man lying on the cement that was so hot that the tar in the seams was melting and sticking to my shoes. I saw the damage to the three vehicles. I saw the hole in the windshield where a younger man (different vehicle) had gone through with his head but somehow ended up not going all the way through (I swear that an angel must have poked him back inside!) I remember seeing him staggering around the area with blood running down his face as he told us that there were two people in the other car. I saw the woman in the demolished car who couldn’t get out. I gasped with horror as there was not enough room left in the passenger seat for another person to be there. Two people died on that interstate that blazing hot Kansas day…the man who was thrown from his upside down truck and the woman who had been sitting in the passenger side of the car. I can’t deny that those images messed me up for a long time. Initially, I had to deal with it by myself…as my husband was away on business at the time. I wept uncontrollably for a solid hour on my way home and inside my house. I was a mess. Not long after, the world lost their favorite Princess...and my heart was among the multitude of hearts who deeply grieved this sudden loss. Those two accidents happened in August. Then in September, one of my favorite musical artists was also killed in a motor vehicle accident. Rich Mullins was one of the best songwriters and musicians of our time. Even more than that, he truly “walked the walk” of one who followed Christ. Of those people killed who made an impact on my life…only one had been wearing a seatbelt. I went on a bit of a crusade about seat belts that year. “If only…”
Then there was the day that I needed to clean out the gutters of our home. We didn’t have a ladder so I parked my Grand Am under the eave I needed to work on and stood on its roof. When I stepped too far toward the middle and it bowed in (not damaged, it popped back out when I moved), I realized just how vulnerable we were to having the same type of injuries I saw in that summer crash. It scared me.
My issue is with safety.
My husband was opposed to minivans. So…we ended up with a full-size conversion van in December of 1997. I LOVED it! LOL…it was like a house! It even had curtains! : ) I could happily load my family into it and get everyone situated and comfortable before getting into the driver’s seat and going on our way. : ) We had that van for years. LOL…it even shows up in the driveway of our old house when I look up our address on Google Earth. : ) I hated that I could no longer fit into any garages…but it was worth it to me to have “crunch space” between my loved ones and the exterior of my vehicle. If there were ever an impact…I wanted them to survive.
Eventually we needed a different vehicle. It was time to scale down. Our boys were old enough for booster seats and could buckle their own seatbelts. We didn’t need as much room…but I did still want to seat extra people so that we could take friends and/or family with us. My guys went looking and found the vehicle we currently drive. They loved it! True to my quirkiness…I was put off by the fact that it was a certain edition and would appear too fancy. But, the deal was a good one…and our old van was on it’s last legs.
This purchase was made the summer of ’03. It’s been a good, reliable vehicle for our nomadic family. I can’t explain how good it felt to get back into the driver’s seat of it after having driven smaller British spec cars for a month or two after our arrival here. It was like a piece of home. It was familiar. And I felt much safer in it. I cannot tell you just how many times I have come around a curve in these local narrow roads and been head-to-head with another car who was driving down the middle (seemingly oblivious to the white line they were straddling). It would absolutely boggle my mind to watch them slowly make their way over to let me have my side back. So, yeah, safety issues are still at play here.
Not all the looks or comments have been negative. I was greatly amused by the reaction of a local Englishman who saw me driving my truck. “Blimey!” “That’s a TANK!” “Are you sure you’re licensed to drive that thing Miss?” : ) We had a good laugh at the amazement that a woman could drive a vehicle like this. (don’t even get me started on that issue!) And the Scotsman who initially gave us grief over the size of our truck when we checked into a B&B ended up revealing his appreciation of the engine when he “just had to” look under the bonnet (hood) on our last day there. : )
For those of you who share my faith…I will share that I have progressed in this area. I know that it is God who keeps me safe, not my vehicle. I am, once again, ready to scale down. I would still like to have more seats than just for our five family members, because I like being able to invite people to go places with us. I’d still really like a minivan but don’t know if that’ll happen. Lately, though, that doesn’t matter as much to me anymore.
I started writing this piece because I felt the need to defend myself. Now I am reminded of the different times that I have thought one thing about certain people in my life path, only to find out later that I was wrong about them. I was looking at them from only one perspective.
Life is multifaceted. There are many different perspectives from which we can view things. I suppose that is why it’s such great wisdom when we are instructed not to judge others. There are many reasons why people do what they do…why they are who they are. One perspective we cannot view is into a person’s heart. Only God has that perspective. This is why He alone has the responsibility to judge our actions and inactions on Judgment Day.
Boy am I glad that isn’t my job!! : ) I’m definitely unqualified for THAT position.