Cash for Clunkers
The Cash for Clunkers program has now wound down. Even if I'd had a clunker, it would not likely have gotten over the screening hurdle. The three-and-only cars I've ever owned in my life - a used, rusted out, early-1980's Honda Civic; a Mercury Tracer (with the nifty Mazda engine); and my quasi-beloved New Beetle - all got excellent MPG.
But although I am car-less, it is not as if my life is devoid of clunkers, and I wouldn't mind seeing a couple of program extensions that might get me into buying mode. Here are a few things I wouldn't mind trading up on:
- Palm Pilot (vintage 1999): Sure, we talk all the time about built-in obsolescence, and I suppose that my old, do-nothing Palm is in many respects obsolete. But I have to give this little appliance props for solid construction. This has been recharged (and dropped) so many times, you'd think it would be all tuckered out by now. But it still keeps a schedule, and an address book, perfectly. And in 10 years, all I've had to do to keep this going is buy an occasional stylus to replace one I've lost. Nothing wrong with it - but nothing right with it, either. Proposed C for C trade: I'm not looking for much in return, but how about $25 bucks towards a Blackberry Tour.
- Boombox (c. 1990): Sure, the antenna's bent out of shape, and the radio reception is terrible. And to get it to start playing a CD, I have to jigger the CD around a few times - and then lean on the lid pretty hard. But this little Aiwa still works reasonably well. Getting the CD's to start playing is, however, moderately annoying. While I do have an iPod, there are times when I actually want to play a CD without having to go into the living room and deal with the one there that has too many teeny-weeny, hard to read buttons, not to mention the confusion of figuring out which CD is where in the five or six available slots. Proposed C for C trade: $10 toward a new CD player - purchased in person at a Best Buy or Radio Shack to help keep retail clerks in business. (Remember when we used to think that working retail was a terrible job?)
- Winter boots (early 1990's - maybe late 1980's): Years ago, I had a really bee-yoo-tee-ful, dressy pair of black leather Ferragamo boots. While they were bee-yoo-tee-ful, they were not all that practical. The leather was so fine that the boots quickly became nicked and scarred. In fact, they would only have been useful if I had been carried around in a sedan chair while out of doors, and walked only on plush carpeting while in doors. The soles were also cold-conductingly thin - not so practical in a New England winter. And, like many convertible sports cars, these boots were not actually usable in sleet, snow, or ice - the usual conditions of a New England winter. Since I seldom get dressed up enough to justify fancy boots - not to mention that ain't no one carrying me around in a sedan chair - I replaced these with a pair a wine-red Etienne Aigner boots that, while they didn't fit or look as nice as the Ferragamo, were a lot more practical - especially since, as I paid about 1/3 as much for them, I was okay wearing them out in lousy weather. (They weren't all that warm or practical in absolute terms, just in comparison to the Ferragmo's.) Eventually, the Aigners gave way to Canadian-made storm boots that look like hell, but grip the side walk, keep my feet warm, and are somewhat water proof. But I still have the Aigners, and am willing to give them up. Proposed C for C trade: Straight up trade for a pair of Uggs.
- Kitchen (c. 1980): To my sisters, my kitchen screams "I don't cook," but to me it screams "Smithsonian", where those oak-trimmed, almond cabinets; that formica counter top; that Jenn-Aire range would make a great set-piece for an exhibit on urban galley kitchens of the early-yuppie era. Since I don't cook very often, the kitchen is entirely serviceable. The refrigerator keeps food cold. The micro-wave makes things hot. The cabinets hold their contents - Progresso soup, Teddie peanut butter, boxes of pasta - quite well. The ancient dishwasher still runs. Still, I recognize that the kitchen would be a drag on the resale value of our condo. Proposed C for C trade: It would be completely impractical to turn the kitchen into a den, which would actually be more useful to us, but less useful to a buyer. But if someone would come in and take everything away and gut the place within a 24 hour period, I would be willing to put in something more granite-stainless-whatever.
- Bathtub (c.1980). Well, I supposed that both bathrooms should go the way of the kitchen, but the real eyesore is the bathtub in the downstairs bathroom. Whoever thought that a goldish-brown (with swirls) tub with a Jacuzzi in it was 'cool' was dead wrong. Yes, I do use the Jacuzzi once every couple of years, and it is relaxing. But mostly the tub is hideous and dated. Proposed C for C trade: I'd rather have a nice, walk-in shower, but this is the only tub we have, and two walk-in showers would probably be one too many. So, I'd take $100 toward a plain old Jacuzzi-less bathtub. White.
Of course, once I got going on everything I own, there'd be no end to the Cash for Clunkers ideas I could come up with. But these few would do me for now.
I will be writing to my Congressman tomorrow. Michael Capuano, of course, will be so distracted by trying to decide whether to run for Teddy Kennedy's Senate seat that he will no doubt ignore my letter.
My brother Tom is the only one I know who actually did a Cash for Clunker trade in, and he's posted on it here, in his new blog, in a funny take on the program, including a riff on death panels. Please take the 'financially challenged' with a grain o' salt. Puh-leeze. He's been blogging a few weeks and he's already got Google ads in there. I'm sure he's making money hand over fist - or cash over clunkers - over there.
And speaking of Teddy Kennedy, flaws and all, I loved the guy. RIP, Ted.