Have you ever noticed that when a friend offers you a ride and you get in their car, they’ll invariably say, “Sorry about the mess,” even if the car’s interior is so pristine you could perform surgery in there?
Of course, with some cars it takes five minutes to move all the random crap off the seat before you can sit down.
During our child-raising years, we all had messy cars. With kids come chaos. But now that they’ve grown and flown, we’re got our cars back again. And, perhaps because I grew up in Detroit, I believe that the condition of our cars says something about us. I recently asked my Facebook pals: Is the inside of your car clean and tidy, or it is a disaster area?
According to their responses, our cars are all over the map:
My car is spotless. I just wish the rest of my life were this beautiful and well-ordered.
Mine is so junked up that people probably think I’m homeless.
I think of my car as my pocketbook on wheels. It contains everything I need for daily survival.
We call my husband’s car the Rolling Lunchbox because he has stashed so much snack food in it.
I call mine Meals on Wheels for the same reason.
I keep a duster in the door pocket and use it at lights. And I shake out my floor mats once a week. There’s nothing wrong with that. There ISN‘T.
Most of the stuff I carry around my car is stuff you’d find in a good hardware store. Is that weird?
The inside of my car is spotless. But there’s a body in the trunk. (Just kidding.)
I think of my car as “off-site storage.” It’s not only full of random crap, but I have four dogs, one of whom is chronically car sick. You really wouldn’t want to get into my car. Unless you’re a dog.
I always carry lots of bottled water, just in case I break down in a desert. Even though I live in Philadelphia.
If I ever disappear due to foul play the cops will easily be able to trace the last six months of my life from the crap on the floor of my car.
In my car at the moment? Dog crates and dog treats. Bottled water. A granola bar. An apple. An extra pair of shoes. A hat. A lock of my daughter’s hair. Five pairs of reading glasses and two pairs of sunglasses. Many empty Frappucinno bottles. Gravel. Sand. Leaves. A dried branch from a fancy oak tree. Insect repellent. A roll of paper towels. Two king-sized sheets, photography equipment, two plastic bags full of loose change. A can of Coke. Should I keep going?
My car is as clean as my conscience, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.
LAST WEEK I FOUND A SQUIRREL IN MY CAR.
In my car right now? Empty cigarette packs. A roll of paper towels. Used paper towels. And, of course, dog nose prints all over the windows.
I’m a teacher. My car is full of school supplies. If times get tough, I’ll be able to sell pens, markers and construction paper out of the back of my car.
My car is spotless and tidy. (Just kidding! It isn’t.)
My car contents? Jackets, umbrellas, walking sticks, spare shirts, restaurant coupons, energy bars, Blue Diamond almonds, bottled water and a life-sized cardboard cut out of Hillary Clinton. (I know the election is over but I can’t bear to throw her out.)
My car is a microcosm of my life. I could tell you about it. But then I’d have to kill you.
Food wrappers. Books. Thermoses. Empty coffee cups. Sunglasses. Jackets. Blankets. Troll doll in a nurse uniform. Emergency apocalypse backpack. Flashlights. Hair ties. Reading glasses. Newspapers. Receipts. Grocery lists. Stuff to take to Goodwill. And my husband has stashed an axe under the driver’s seat of my car. Yes. An AXE.
The upside to having a really messy car? When I do clean it out, I always find lots of spare change.
I divide people into those who brush off my passenger seat and hop right in, and those who grimace, then get in with a look of determination combined with pity.
What does your car say about you? Are you neat and calm? Unruly and chaotic? Totally in control? Or fast and loose and ready for anything?
Next time you get in your car, look around. Is this who you want to be? If not, get rid of the used tissues, replace that pile of National Inquirers with a neatly folded copy of the New York Times and throw out all the half-eaten sandwiches. (And don’t forget to return that overdue library book you’ve been searching all over for — it’s under the front seat.)
Read Roz’s book