I was talking with a mechanic today. A good guy. A local charity often refers people to him, as he tries to do discounted work for people in difficult situations.
He mentioned that sometimes he feels bad working on people's cars because he knows that, given the state of many of these cars, not long after they leave his shop, they end up needing something else fixed. This led to a conversation on the general state of cars ownership. Oddly, for a man who makes his living fixing cars, we share almost equally negative views on the pitfalls of car culture.
We discussed how difficult cars make life for those of meager resources. People with means buy nicer cars that generally break down less and consume less fuel. Thus, they save money on both repairs and fuel. Those without means buy cheaper, older vehicles that are more prone to break down and generally consume more fuel. Thus, though they spend less on upfront costs, they (the people who can lease afford it) end up paying much more to use the vehicle.
Then consider the time lost for work whenever a car breaks down. People with good jobs tend to have the types of jobs that allow for time off when (rarely) the car needs work. Those one the lower side of the economic scale tend to have jobs that pay by the hour. Frequent breakdowns mean lost pay and, if it happens enough, lost jobs.
Do those who've never been poor understand this difficulty, this impediment?
Our car's been in the shop a lot recently. Hopefully this mechanic can get the final bugs worked out. I've though many times: If I had a job right now, how would I ever get this car looked at? (That's what you have to think when you're a one-car household.)
I liked the mechanic. He's trying to help people the best he can with his skills. Good for him, and good for his community.