But no matter, the road is life

From the pages of Kerouac. I find myself ecumenically in similar situation. The suitcases are going to be removed from the vehicle, to await loading to something new before the journey continues.

I’ve been working for the last nine months or so for a large distribution company, that provides third party logistics to an even larger company called Unilever. My role at this company has been that of handling the most boring, yet high-paced and high impact issues – easily summed up in one easy sentence: When will my shipment be ready? (I don’t know, so stop asking already!).

Brochures, only two, need just one

Brochures, only two, need just one

This job has put me into a position where I spend a lot of time on the road. More than I would like. More than my car would like. Alana (so named by an ex-girlfriend) is getting on in years; long in tooth. She rattles; she shakes; she rusts. She gets me from A to B, although sometimes while making funny noises. That leaves me non-plussed. Funny noises are my gig! At least, when I’m not trying to sound like a certain high-placed Newfie working at CBC.

Thus, I drive a lot. Average* ~55km, one-way, each day. Five days a week – 50 weeks a year. That’s pretty much more than 28K/a. This is naturally, until I find myself in a new residential situation that cuts down that mileage to a more respectable and sane level annually.

And because of all this mileage, Alana is getting tired. I worry for her. She needs to be retired from this daily routine of highway abuse. She needs to enjoy the existence befitting of a 13+ year old car. An existence as a winter beater, or maybe in the hands of a young punk, desiring to build an awesome sleeper car.

So, this morning I departed to the likes of Mini Markham and Subaru Markham, for a closer look at my top two choices. Two surprisingly different vehicles, each with a rap sheet of pros and cons to them. Strangely, both are reduced to simple truths

Mini = efficient fun
Subaru = safe and practical

The mini, while a fantastic drive, had me concerned for weird reasons. I am not a claustrophobic person, but i felt that way while behind the wheel of the demo I drove. The compact size of the german-made, british wonder-car had me feel like I was trapped in a very fast moving box. While I loved the idea of an engine that shuts off at intersections, I felt that that feature interfered with the car’s acceleration from a stop, in a rather jarring manner. It was like I was driving a car with two turbochargers, both improperly tuned for my driving style. The car would lurch upon start and then again a second later as the turbo kicked in.

End result and decision = not for me, even if the ***hole side of my driving self wants to say otherwise.

Now, the Subaru was a different story. It was a familiar story actually. In which the hero defeats the villain and gets the girl kind of familiar, but with a twist. That twist being the girl was perfectly able to save herself, except that she didn’t have shoes and was in a room full of broken glass. The hero saves her only because he had a spare pair of shoes in his bag.

That spare pair of shoes of course is my euphemism for four wheel drive. When the temperatures drop, the rest of that analogy will make sense.

And that’s why I am considering Subaru in the first place: Four Wheel Drive.

History – I had a huge scare this past winter when going to work. Short version: It was a dreadfully snowy morning and there was ice underneath the snow on the road. I hit a patch and slip diagonally across lanes on the 407 — into the path of a plow truck. All that went through my mind then was “bye-bye Alana”.

All that happened was a twoonie-sized dent in my front passenger side wheel-well. I was lucky. Alana was lucky.

So, that’s when the problems started to get worse for her. Since then, I had a mishap with a raccoon, late one night. Said raccoon would’ve survived had it not crapped itself and changed its mind when crossing the highway. Alas, he cracked Alana’s air dam, and possibly screwed up her shock absorber. I can only guess, because I’m not that big of a car-nut, but every so often, I hit a dip, pothole or speed bump and that’s what it feels like.

As I said before, I drive a lot. I’m on the highway a lot. I need to be able to enjoy those hellish minutes and hours that I lose each time I hit the road. Its not enough for me to have a new stereo and functional parts, minus funny noises. I need to feel safe and sane when facing the nutbag hordes that traverse the 401 on their daily routine at the same time as I do. FWD will help with that, other Subaru options/features will take care of the rest.

Here’s to finding a new way to drive, and not having to put my suitcases on the side of the road when I need to get moving most.


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