I'd never had my own car. In high school, I learned to drive on my mother's Ford Escort wagon, which I borrowed to go to my part-time job and to go out on weekends.
In college I didn't drive, as I was living in cities where cars were either unnecessary or an active nuisance (Boston, London, and Washington DC). I could have used a car in law school, since New Haven's public transportation system was not superb, but between the buses and Chad, I managed.
When I graduated and moved to Schenectady, I drove Chad's Ford Taurus back and forth to bar review classes. Towards the end of the summer, Chad's parents got a really good deal on a new car and didn't need their other car for a trade-in, so they let us borrow it. This was a huge relief, since we needed to move, and having only one car really limited our geographical range. As a bonus, the borrowed car was a slightly nicer version of Chad's, with power seats that put the car on something closer to my scale. (Any car that has lots of room for Chad is going to have rather too much room for me. Driving Chad's car involved a folded-up blanket on the seat and a neck pillow pressed into use as a back support.)
Chad's folks took their car back just a few weeks ago, leaving us with their venerable Ford Aerostar minivan. That vehicle being decidedly not up to the daily commute to Albany, I went back to driving Chad's Taurus somewhat uncomfortably—but in the happy knowledge that it was very nearly paid off and I could start looking for a new car. Which I did.
And today I brought it home. It was really a frighteningly easy process, once I'd done my research and made up my mind: thorough test-drive on Saturday, scoping out both the car and the dealer; applied for credit on Saturday on-line; approved on Monday; called on Wednesday and said, "Yes, please" (it would have been Tuesday, but the person I was dealing with wasn't in); and signed the final papers and drove away today.
Somehow it feels like it ought to have been more difficult.
I'm not complaining, mind. I have a spiffy brand-new (73 miles when I picked it up) Toyota Prius, which I have wanted ever since it came out. It's a hybrid, with both an electric and gas motor; no need to plug it in, the batteries are recharged from the gas motor and from regenerative braking. It gets over 40 miles per gallon (because only the electric motor is used at low speeds, it actually does better in city traffic; I got 50.1 on the way back from the dealer), and is so clean that California has designated it a "Super-Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle" (no, I'm not kidding).
Of course, I'm not all that green: hybrid system aside, it's otherwise just a nice car. It's eerily cool to be motoring along without the gas engine running, for one thing, and I have no complaints about the handling or interior. Well, no major complaints; the headrest may become an irritant, and the weird gear shift, which protrudes from the dashboard, blocks my view of the clock partly. But it's got more room inside than one might think, cruise control, keyless entry, funky LCD screen with touch controls, decent speakers . . .
. . . and comfortably-sized seats.
Yay, my own car!