Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Status Symbol

The other day, my son informed me that success is demonstrated with three status symbols: A good job, a fine watch and a nice car.

That conversation came to mind this week while I was waiting in the valet queue at The City Club at Bunker Hill.

Suit after suit accelerated smoothly away from the scrum: Here a Lexus, there a BMW, then again a Mercedes. And then up rattled The Big Orange, noisy tailpipe vibrating away against after-market trailer hitch, hood full of scratches from its long use as an extension of our garage laundry area.

The Big Orange is the affectionate moniker we gave our (you guessed it) bright orange, manual-transmission, two-wheel-drive Isuzu Rodeo when we motored off the used car lot in Chino 11 years ago. The salesman was clearly thrilled that someone - anyone - was interested in this odd duck. He named a ridiculously low price, we paid cash and climbed in. Best vehicle negotiation ever.

More than 100,000 miles later, the old girl has been a jaunty companion, taking us to the Grand Canyon, the Bay Area and over dirt roads south of the border. We've crammed the back with dorm furnishings and loaded the roof with camping gear.

Put down her middle seats and The Big Orange can bring home any kind of cargo. Her brilliance makes it impossible to lose her in a parking lot, no matter how crowded. We've maintained her well and in return, she's never refused to get us where we need to go.

I held my head high as the curious crowd watched me claim my wheels. Nope, I'm not a big banker or a wealthy investor. I also didn't get bailed out or rip anybody off lately.

The Big Orange and I drove away and left the other cars cooling their heels. Someday, probably sooner rather than later, I'll need to buy a new car. But I'll never find one as loyal, or as beautiful, as my status symbol.


  1. I think the new status symbols should be energy efficient cars, backyard gardens and bartering, not buying.

  2. Those would be closer to my priorities too, Susan.

    I should mention that as a stick shift, my Rodeo gets extremely good gas mileage. Plus I don't drive much so my carbon footprint is probably tiny!

  3. Excellent, that you buck the status quo! Not everyone wants Benz's, BMW's and the like, and I think that status quo will be changing in the near future, as Susan proposes.

  4. Hon, what a great post. I think you should send that to Businessweek or Newsweek as a "My Turn." I remember those many trips in the car. Great memories.

  5. Karen: Loved the post. I think I may have been with you one time when we had The Big Orange parked by a valet! Seriously, I share so many of those memories in that car... though I really like my little black Jetta! You should send this to Newsweek's My Turn. It's a great column.

  6. I think a paid-off car is an excellent status symbol. How about paid-off credit cards? A paid-off mortgage? A debt-free life is a status symbol to aspire to.

  7. Thanks for the vote of confidence as always, hon. :-)

    Petrea, you're right. There's no status symbol that beats a paid-off life, as I learned from growing up in a household drowning in debt!