We were consumers this weekend. In a good way - not in a "acquiring more material possessions for the sake of building our empire" way. We bought a car - or at least we put a deposit on one and will pick it up later this week. This is all part of the downsizing process. We traded in the gas-guzzling van for a fuel efficient Chev Impala. Here's hoping we made a good decision. (If you have one and think it's a piece of crap, PLEASE don't tell me about it!) We're not too fond of the colour - bright red - but at least we won't easily lose it in a parking lot :-)
And then, on Saturday, I bought a new bike. I'd saved up for one this Spring, but then the money I'd saved had been whittled down by other more pressing needs, so I wasn't sure I'd be able to get one. (One of our adult-sized bikes was stolen recently, and the other one is falling apart. I'd been hoping to ride to work this summer, but didn't have a decent bike to ride.) I got a pleasant surprise on Friday - a cheque arrived in the mail for some extra back-pay I'd been owed from my years in the government. Turns out it was just enough to buy a bike :-) Seems like one of those little whispers from God - "here's a little gift. Go buy what you want and be happy."
The problem was, I'd decided to skimp a little on the bike by buying a cheaper one at Canadian Tire and saving the extra money for some of the other things I need (like new pants). Well, I brought home the shiny new bike, took one ride around the block, and then Marcel took a spin. Within moments, he was calling me from inside the house... "Um, Heather, you'd better come out here." When I stepped out on the front step, it became fairly clear that my decision to buy the cheaper bike was ill-advised. The gear shift thingy that moves the chain from one gear to the next (sorry, I'm not too well versed in bicycle terminology) had completely snapped off when Marcel tried to shift gears. On closer inspection, we realized that most of it was made of plastic! Can you imagine? Plastic parts on a bicycle? And this wasn't even the cheapest bike at the store! (Yes, I returned the bike and now intend to go to a REAL bike store for a better product, despite the higher cost.)
I know I sound like an old-timer when I say "they just don't make things like they used to!" I could go on a real rant about how so much stuff is made to be disposable these days, so it's cheaper to buy a new thing than fix the old one, and we are forced to perpetrate the consumerism and excessive waste that has come to define our culture... but I won't. I'll just say "Here's hoping the car fares better than the bicycle!"
(Look for me soon in my hot red car or shiny bicycle doing my part to reduce fossil fuels!)