Back in June 2005, Andrea and I decided to buy a car. Well, I suppose we decided to buy it a bit sooner. We had lived in Sandy Hill and took the bus to work or anywhere else we wanted to go, and it was relatively easy getting around, so we never felt a “need” for a car that strongly. Plus I’m not a gearhead or even a wannabe so for me it’s just transportation, not entertainment. We had rented cars a few times to go on trips, all worked well, no giant issues.
Until one night we decided we were going to go to a movie in Britannia. From Parkdale, by car, that was about a 5-10 minute drive. Maybe 15 if you hit lights or you took a slow route. But we didn’t have a car yet, so we decided to take a bus. We walked from our house on Parkdale about 4 or 5 blocks up to Carling Avenue and waited for the 85 to come along. It’s a milk run, but it was one bus, and it seemed the easiest route from where we were. It was Saturday night, so not much else running near us that was useful.
The bus was late. It should have been running every 10-15 minutes, and we waited over 30 before one came along. It then took forever going down Carling, slowest driver ever (they were training that night). We had left our house at 7:30 for a 9:15 movie, and it was almost 8:45 by the time we got to the theatre. Finished the movie, caught a bus home around 11:45 I think, and we got home around 12:30 or so. We were gone 5 hours for a 2-hour movie.
And it’s not like we were in the boonies somewhere. Parkdale is fairly central. Carling Avenue is a major road. But the logistics of getting there for something so simple was just beyond painful. And while we had made the best of our transit options up until then, that one put me over the edge.
I suddenly wanted a car.
What I remember most though about the experience was that this was Andrea’s and my first experience with a major purchase together. And our views of risk were completely different. She felt the best way to mitigate the purchase was to buy new…we would pay a lot more, sure, but we would be confident it would likely hold together for awhile. I was on the opposite end…I wanted to buy used to keep whatever the lemon factor cost was going to be as low as possible. We considered a few options, but in the end, Andrea convinced me that we could afford new. I often wonder what kind of conversation I would have had with my dad about it as he had likely never bought new in his life. Often his cars were based on what we could afford, and it was often 5 and 6 year-old vehicles looking for a new life. Or older even.
But we looked around, and it didn’t take long for us to settle on one of the simplest, most reliable transport options going, the Honda Civic. We called it the Blue PandA and bought it from the Richmond Road dealer.
After we picked it up, the first thing we did was go for a drive (obviously), and we went out to Kanata since we would NEVER go there normally. Just out along Richmond / Robertson / Hazeldean Road. Along the way, we saw deer, which we found oddly magical. Certainly not something we saw near our house on Parkdale nor in Sandy Hill.
And then we headed up into the Gatineau Hills. Just in time for a sunset.
We had the car until July 2009 when we were in a car accident out in Kanata on the way back from the cottage (it was raining and I was driving too fast to stop). We were shaken up, but other than a couple of scratches, no lasting damage to us, while the car’s frame was twisted enough to be a write-off. The insurance company wrote us a cheque for $10K and it was done.
It served us well for the 4 years we had it. But I still remember that first day and seeing deer alongside the road in Kanata. RIP Blue Panda.