The Delayed Pain of Selling a Car

I sold my first and only car last day to Cars24. It was something that I had been considering for nearly a year after having owned it since 2016. There were quite a few problems with it, which together was the primary reason I decided to sell. It was also attached to a recent failure I experienced, which only aggravated my desire to do so. I was the only one in my family who had no concerns about selling it because of my views against materialism, so the process of selling it – driving it to the store, getting it inspected, sealing the deal, and taking out my personal effects from it for the last time – all flowed like a river going downstream. I was happy to sell it and with the price that I was getting for it. Yet as I returned home car-less that evening, a flurry of emotions stunned me. I suddenly started feeling nostalgic, and as I shared the news with my family and friends, flashbacks of my trips in it overwhelmed me to a point that I felt a slight pain. Not body pain but a feeling of loss. It was something that I had never experienced before (in similar circumstances) even though I considered the decision a financially intelligent one. It was also one of the strongest crowding of feelings I have felt this year, which is why I am writing this piece today.

I am not ashamed to admit that buying the car in the first place was a mistake. It was an old Hyundai hatchback owned by a family friend. He had decided to sell it, so we decided to buy it. I only realized the mistake a year later when I started taking my finances seriously. I hadn’t taken into consideration the recurring costs of washing it and renewing its insurance. Nor did I know that maintaining a used car is double the work; plus, you should avoid dealing with a friend or a relative because you cannot negotiate enough. Owning a car is worse than deciding to buy a house on mortgage. But that October noon four years ago, I bought the hatchback home.

I owned a similar car / credit Wikimedia

Since then we have driven it several locations in the state. But that is not the point of this article. The idea is to highlight the aftermath of its sale.

A relative attributed the idea of “suddenly not owning a car after having owned one for years” to an emotional tug. While I know that sounds a bit elitist and I don’t agree with it, selling my car did fluster me a little. It was a calculated move, all right – I drove it less than 10,000 kilometres in those four years and we are in a pandemic right now – and I know I wouldn’t need it any more than when I had it.

The second reason why I sold it was the constant anxiety it gave me. Will I get a parking space where I go, will the clutch misbehave, will I get asked to pull over by a cop, will I get involved in an accident or a road rage, will I get challaned for an offence committed by mistake, will the car break down in the middle of a toll queue (it has happened once), and all sorts of questions involved with owning and using a car. Some of these have to do with the fact that it was a six-year-old heavily used car when I bought it. Others are because of my obsessive requirement to avoid friction and confrontation. Another major contributor of my anxiety was the lack of an owned parking spot in my housing society. I used to park outside my society on the main road, which required me to check on it every once in a while even though our security guy did a decent job. The issue of ethicality aside, parking on the main road created this loop in my head – that something could happen to the car, so I will need to check on it regularly. It troubled me.

I consider myself a decent driver and I like driving, but being behind the wheel of my car did not always give me pleasure. The anxiety often activated itself while driving, especially during long drives, and it troubled me for four years. Even when I was not driving.

I feel it partly has to do with the responsibility of owning a car, which is as big as keeping a day job. You can take a leave from job but you have to come back to it eventually. Just like with a car; you can’t leave it idle for long or it will start costing you dearly, starting with the battery draining, then the tires going bust, and so on. And I don’t make that comparison lightly because the levels of attention that you need to give to both of them are near equal. The only difference is that they form a loop when you keep them side by side. Money comes from one and a part of it goes directly to the other. There’s no abruption. A perfect example of a liability.

Despite all that, the pain showed itself that day and it confused me a little. I was happy to have sold my car because it meant less troubles in life. Yet, the cavity that it left behind became difficult to fill. And I actively try to avoid pain in life, which is how I see it as, a journey where you try as much as you can to avoid pain and suffering. While I have no plans to fill that void anytime soon, it has made me wonder my real relationship with it. Was there something more than just a driver-car relationship? Or am I just attributing the memories I have while we used it to being overtly personal?

I really don’t know. But I know that it’s going to take me a few more days of routine life to keep the nostalgia away. Sure, it will crop up in future during dinner time or when we travel next. And I am confident that I will turn that nostalgia into an enjoyable collection of the good times we had with it. TN.

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