I knew I anthropomorphized cars when I went to the US at Christmas: they all looked like they’d been gagged, which I didn’t understand until I realised that I’d assigned them all faces, and without their front registration plate they didn’t have mouths. My Skoda doesn’t have a name, but I definitely pat it on the dashboard to apologise when I grind the gears by accident. And I might, sort of, say hello to it every evening when I climb in after work. Only once the doors are shut. What I didn’t anticipate was feeling like Brutus brandishing a bloody knife once we decided to sell it.
It makes good economic sense to put it on the market: one thing after another has landed it in the garage over the past six months, and we can’t afford to keep plugging money in when we’re getting nothing out. It’s not a bad car – in fact it’s deliciously easy to drive, comfortable, economical and with an endearingly random pattern of skyscrapers on its upholstery – but with the number of miles we put on it, it’s no longer the car for us. It needs to be put out to pasture, homed with a gentle old granny who will drive it to the shops once a week and feed it premium diesel. It all makes sense. It does. Oh, but what a betrayal. When it takes me to work and back every day without having to be near other people or trains. When it puts up with me method-singing first thing in the morning. When it tells me the temperature outside, so I can tell everyone at work and prompt meaningful will-it-snow discussions. To turn it away after all this time! We’ve had some differences, the Skoda and I, most notably in the early days when I couldn’t bay park properly and said some cutting things about the size of its backside. In turn I confronted its inability to accelerate fairly quickly, and we both moved on to a relationship of mutual understanding.
I know it’s not real. But still – I don’t talk about getting a new car in front of it. It might be sad. It might cry lemony tears of windscreen washer into our driveway and sit in stony silence all the way to work. Poor Skoda. It’s not you – it’s me. Oh alright, it’s mostly you.