20 October 2009

Question O' The Day

(Photograph copyright 2009, all rights reserved)

Ok, this is another of the Great Imponderables, and I think it's generational.

When I was born (Yeah, back in the Dark Ages), my parents owned, a VW Bug. This was the original Bug. No seat belts, no airbags, eensy little wheels, three speed transmission, top speed of 50 mph, one of THOSE Bugs. Now, I was almost born in the front seat of that car. Apparently I was in a hurry.

We had that car until I was almost four years old. My sister was a year old at the time. It was replaced with (and guys, you'll know what I'm talking about) a Chevy Bel-Air station wagon in LeMans blue. By the time they got rid of THAT car, my brother was eight years old. It was faded (that was a shitty color for fading) and rusted almost to bits, but it ran and went to the son of the mechanic that had somehow kept it running for just over a decade and 300,000 miles.

My experience is not unusual. Most of the parents of my age cohort drove either sedans or station wagons, unless they were running a small business, in which case they drove vans. Kids sat in the back seats arguing on long car trips or in the very back of the wagons or vans concocting mischief that, if we'd followed through, would have resulted in our parents killing us long before adolescence.

I remember clearly plotting with a friend to dig a tunnel between the tool sheds in our respective yards. Never mind that we would have to traverse a large lot, dig under a paved alley, a garage and another house, we figured we could manage it. We even had a place for the dirt - there was a vacant lot across the street from her place. Then we found out there was a concrete pad under her tool shed, so we gave it up in favor of rigging our bedroom windows so we could sneak out at night and read by flashlight on lawn chairs in our side yard.

Ok. I'm rambling now. To the question.

We now live in a townhouse complex of 21 units. Young (ish) couples were the main buyers of these units and in the past five years, they've been reproducing like bunnies. It's hilarious - someone is always pregnant. Now in EVERY SINGLE CASE, almost as soon as the test comes back positive and the word spreads, a brand-new 3/4 ton truck appears in the couples' garage.

So what is that? Some will say that they want their kids "surrounded by steel", but car design today is advanced to the point where that is meaningless. Besides, I've seen SUVs after accidents and the front compartment is fine, but the back seat is smashed to shit. So that's not a real argument.

The other excuse is that there's a lot of stuff to haul. Ok. but that hasn't changed in the last 50 years. You still have to load the kid, the diaper bag, the stroller, etc. and that can be managed in a car with no real strain.

So tell me. Why is it that the mere act of making a seven or eight pound baby that entitles people to a truck that is designed to haul eight adults and their camping gear, as well as the dead deer they bring back from the hunting trip?


  1. I have a simple answer to this. It's because Millennials were spoiled plum rotten by their parents and think that any even minor event in life entitles itself to an outsized reward, so when a genuine, major event comes up, the tendency is to scale up the sense of selfishness to new lofty heights. Not to worry, though---Millennials will get theirs when the economy finally collapses utterly when America maxes out its credit limit. I'll be in Canada or Europe when that happens.

  2. Hear hear! We live in the States, but we'll be retiring in Canada. I did try to explain to someone that the banks there CAN'T collapse in the same way they did here because all of the NINJA loans were illegal and banks aren't allowed to overextend like that.

    He didn't get it. He was convinced that conditions HAD to be the same in Canada as they are here. Sigh. Will some Americans (certainly not all) ever "get" that Canada is NOT a state?

  3. You wrote "young(ish)," so is that 20's? 30's? I'm leaning towards brain damage that comes from having kids - even just one - but I also believe that (American) parenting is out of control these days. Moms-to-be get long lists of horrors - HORRRRRORS - that will befall them if they eat, drink or breathe anything on these lists. And doctors won't tell them *why*

    To this day no mom-to-be can tell me why the fuck they can't drink coffee while baking their bun in the oven. Something about maybe the birth weight being affected. My older sister, when her kid was still an infant, went out of her mind when I dropped a bath towel while taking it from the dryer, and tried to put it back in the clean pile. "AAAAAAAA! PUT IT BACK IN THE WASHER!! AAAAAAAA!!" And meanwhile, our mom smoked through all 4 of her pregnancies. Supposedly that lessens birth weight, too, which is good, because I weighed over 9 pounds. Imagine if she hadn't been puffing away!

    Long story short, kids these days making more kids will apparently do whatever folks tell them to do, like buy tanks, or their widdle wee ones will DIE!! DIE IN A HORRIBLE ACCIDENT!! AAAAAAAA!!

    As for Canada, dammit, people! I'm in the process of fleeing the northeast because I've had it with the cold weathah, but I really should move even farther north? {{sigh}}

  4. I am so glad my Cool Niece is being raised as a little thuglet. From close to day 1, she has been outdoors, doggylicked, and has always been allowed to get thoroughly grubby whenever the occasion calls for it. After all, children are washable. And if they AREN'T kept perfectly sanitary, they're healthier, too. That little immune system needs to be active to be effective.

    She is STILL a little disease vector, what with the colds and sniffles that she picks up at day care, but it's all good. Most of the adults in her life have already had them - we only get the doozies.

    The no smoking/ no alcohol makes perfect sense, though. I just wish people would think back to their own mud-puddle days before they try and wrap their kids in cotton wool.

  5. Absolutely mud-puddles are good.

    My cousin is an awesome mom, and when she heard my mom had an outbreak of shingles she said "If I knew for sure they could get chicken pox from coming to visit, I'd definitely bring them over there right now." Because she's seen what happens when an adult who's never had them gets chicken pox (her husband was literally hanging on by a thread for about a week shortly before/after they got married, because he got them) and doesn't want her kids to have to go through that. Plus they're home-schooled, so they wouldn't be infecting other kids unwittingly. However, there was no guarantee, so she didn't.

  6. Your cousin needs her ass kicked. There is no excuse for kids to have to suffer through chicken pox any more. NONE. Tell her to get up off her bum and get those kids vaccinated and NOW.

    This is not an "ordinary, no big deal" thing. Not any more. In fact, I'm kind of shocked that she could know that your mother was in pain BECAUSE she'd had chicken pox and think it was all right to put her kids through that.

    It's like pretending that measles and mumps are not dangerous. Measles can cause brain damage and blindness, and mumps is a common cause of sterility in men - even if they're kids when they get the disease. An MMR shot is cheap and effective and eliminates the dangers that these diseases can post. In some parts of the world, measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children.

    We have the vaccinations for all of these things. Tell your cousin to USE THEM.

  7. Well, actually, Messy, all her kids have been vaccinated, and she has been informed by her doctor recently that the first batch of kids who were vaccinated for chicken pox are now discovering, as young adults, that the vaccine wears off, and they're getting the disease for the first time as an adult, with the attendant higher mortality rate.

    She uses vaccinations for all the diseases we have them available for, because she doesn't want her kids to have to go through these things if it's possible to protect them from it.

  8. MMR is another vaccine that needs to be redone in young adults - and it's an absolute must, especially given that rubella can cause some nasty birth defects. I don't see any big deal about having to keep up a vaccination schedule as an adult. It's just a part of basic health care and a hell of a lot easier than getting sick.

    As I mentioned elsewhere, I went in and got my flu shot today, as well as adult polio vaccine and Hep A vaccine (which will have to be boosted in 6 months.). That's just the way it has to be. My left arm is already sore....

  9. Oh, I concur about keeping up vaccinations. I have also been keeping up my tetanus vaccination, because I don't want to get that infection, either.

  10. Wait, what? Chicken pox vacc wears off?? Nobody tells me nothin'! But I did get a flu shot for the first time Ever. Yes, ever. Till I moved to the northeast, my rate of flus was about once every 10 years. Then I moved, and it was practically every year. I must flee this place soon.

    The niece I mentioned is now 10, and Sis gave up long ago trying to keep her clean / fastidious. Niece loves to play outside, so there you are. I never did enjoy the outdoors that much. A homebody hobbyist since I could toddle, pretty much.

    But Sis does do other questionable things like encourage the girl to only associate with "high end" people, whatever the fuck that means. Actually, I have an idea what the fuck that means, and I don't like it one bit.

  11. Herdthinner:

    Every time we move (and we've moved a LOT), we spend a full 18 months or so catching every single rhinovirus and bug that exists in that location. See, the problem is that even though these things can travel by airplane from place to place, they still mutate when they arrive somewhere.

    This year was bad, I caught two nasty bugs. This spring I got the flu. I was completely out of it for five full days. Just last week, my husband brought me a whole new cold virus direct from...I think it was Minneapolis. He got sick last Saturday and recovered this past Sunday, I got sick last Tuesday and just nicely recovered today.

    Move to the Northwest. It's soggy in the winter, but people don't actually need the down garments there.

  12. Hear hear on the Northwest! We may not see the sun all the time, but I hear it's overrated. ;)

    As for why people in the 20-30 group buy SUVs when they breed... Honestly, they're probably idiots. One of the guys at work regales us with stories about how his sister makes their 2yr old wear a HELMET. I'm not kidding. She has no developmental problems, but they make her wear a helmet so she won't...well, fall and somehow die I guess. This sister also bought a GMC Yukon XL so she could protect her liddle bundle of joy from the evils of the road. She got the Yukon because the HUMMER was cost-prohibitive.

    Personally, I think protecting your kids with an SUV because you can afford the payments and gas and to hell with the other cars is selfish. (I'm sure some people just have the damn things by default or chance, and aren't thinking this, but honestly, you KNOW some people are.) Seeing what a Ford Explorer can do to a tiny hatchback, which I rode in for 10 years of my young life because my parents were poor, I feel indescribably angry. Because it's too close to telling people that can't afford the huge tank of a car that their kids' lives don't matter. Only your progeny gets to live if an accident happens.

    (Note: I feel SUVs have their place. Some people really do go offroading and camping, or have an active ski life that requires a vehicle with 4 wheel drive and cargo space. I do, however, also absolutely feel that SUVs should not be used as commuter vehicles and that they shouldn't be that damned big.)

  13. Corey, you will get no argument from me on the vehicle size issue. The Boy and I are fans of the small but very fast car. Sorry Fox, if it can't make 0 - 60 in under 7 seconds, I won't buy it. One day, I'll tell you the story. Ok, maybe not. We'll see.

    Whenever someone asks my why I'm so anti-truck as a city vehicle, I tell them that if their SUV has never been over the doors in mud or if their pickup has never hauled fertilizer, shit, or both, they don't need them. I come from rural folk and we really did need our trucks, but we always drove a car in the city.

    Trucks are cumbersome to drive, park and maneuver. They take a lot of getting used to. I hate them, and I grew up driving them. They really are no safer than most cars, and most people have no real idea how to really drive a truck. They just sort of aim it, do their nails behind the wheel and bitch when they run over something. Plus most people that buy SUVs are too stupid to know that they can flip (duh) pretty easily.

    I can't speak to cost. We drive Honda Accords, we've had a Porsche (damn you, Chicago, for having crappy roads), and we presently have a three door Volkswagen GTI. I have to say, I love my Volkswagen.

    It's nice and fast (German car, made in Germany - they know their stuff), it has a ton of room (got a 7 foot Christmas tree in that sucker last year), and I can still park it on a hanky. What's not to love? No the gas mileage isn't super-stupendous, but that's the trade-off for that lovely motor.

    So no. Trucks are silly and useless. And well, put it this way. If your seven pound child has so much gear that you need a truck to haul it all around in, then you have either too much shit for the kid or you shouldn't have had the kid in the first place because you have no sense of proportion.

    Now I'm going to catch hell, I can feel it. Oh well.

  14. Oh, Messy, nothing but envy from me about the Porsche. Also condolences as it sounds like the crappy roads either made it less enjoyable or caused its demise.

    I have a little Toyota Yaris sedan. Can park it almost anywhere, and get almost 42 miles per gallon if I'm doing a freeway trip. (Making the Seattle to Portland round trip on one tank of gas is amazing!) That and it's an adorable seafoam green color. I never lose it in a parking lot.