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Kids with Cars: Friends Not Included

A few weeks ago, I told you how we sold our old Pontiac Grand Am to my wife’s godparents for their daughter to use in college. Well, I also told you what I thought about buying a car for your kid, especially if they’ve done nothing to earn that prized possession and privelage

So yesterday, Stacie finds out just how prized this privelaged child finds having a car in college. Mind you, this is a college where nothing is in walking distance, except the college itself. Also, the girl’s parents are about 40 minutes away. One reason they got her the car is to save them the hassle of driving to pick her up and bring her back on weekends.

Friends and Your Car

First let’s start with the friends. While Stacie and I told each other that we’re just selling a piece of metal and plastic, we still find it hard to part with something we took care of so much for 8 years. We were always careful about who we let drive the car (other than family only one of our friends drove it). Why?

Because we know that 99% of the time, other people don’t give a crap about taking care of your stuff. Sure, there are some people out there who treat others’ possessions more sacredly than their own, but they’re a hard-to-find bunch and I would gladly lend my stuff to them, knowing it would be well cared for.

So when I let “Em” (the new owner’s daughter) test drive the car, I also warned her that her friends and roomates are going to ask her to borrow the car and she should try to refrain from giving in. Now keep in mind these are other kids with a license barely 1-2 years old, not seasoned drivers. But it’s not my car or kid to control.

Why I Know First-Hand About Roomates and Cars

Back in my own freshman year of college, at the same campus and just one apartment complex away from where “Em” will be living, there I was: Mildly-Clever Dude. I didn’t know any of my roomates, and I didn’t have my own car (yeah, like my parents could afford that). But, I did have a rich roomate with a truck! And this was no ordinary truck. It was a big truck with big 32″ tires and a boomin’ sound system.

But unlike “Em”, my roomate was out-of-state, which meant his parents paid double the tuition. They also bought him premium bedding, clothing and food. They even gave him their credit card, which he let his friends use for gas. But this kid wasn’t an only child like “Em”. My roomate had an older brother who also received the same treatment.

Anyway, my roomate let us all drive the monster truck. All we had to do was ask for it and put gas in it. And not wreck it…

So me, with a new license (I only got it a year prior at age 17), would take the giant truck around town, to the mall and even down to the supermarket that was an easy walk away. I think I ended up driving it more than my roomate.

One day, my new college friend, who is now a NY State Trooper, and I borrowed the truck to go to the mall. Instead of just driving around the block to get onto the main road, I decided to attempt a 3-point-turn (probably my first ever since the driving exam). As I was making the 2nd turn (where you back up), the back end of the truck lifted up a little and we both heard a slightly audible crunching sound. It was a barely detectable sound and movement, but neither of us mistook it for what it was.

And here’s where it gets bad. I still can’t live this part down.

I completed the maneuver and craned my neck around to see if I backed into something. I did. A little compact car.

Keep in mind this truck’s rear fender is halfway up any normal car’s door. And that’s exactly where it ended up. And because I was accelerating backwards, the fender pushed the door halfway into the driver’s seat.

And what did I do?

I looked around for witnesses, saw none and then hightailed it out of there like a scared little schoolgirl! Yeah, real responsible of me, wasn’t it? Well, I never said I was a responsible person back then.

My friend (again, he’s a state cop now) and I drove to the gas station down the road and inspected for damage to my friend’s truck. All I cared about was what I was accountable for: the truck and myself. Luckily for me, there was just a smidgen of paint on the chrome bumper that we easily rubbed off. That little compact car didn’t fare so well.

My friend and I stayed away for a couple hours, then brought the truck back to the apartment complex. We parked in a different spot and saw that the owner of the car also moved his vehicle far away from the scene.

I never got into trouble. No one saw what I did and both my roomate and I kept silent.

I could try to find my roomate now and explain what I did, but why? He never had to pay anything. He didn’t even know what happened. And since I didn’t take down the information of the car I hit, I have no way of finding that person. Even the apartment complex management has changed multiple times since then so I doubt they even kept the records. So I’ll just live with my guilt and regret for not doing the right thing at the time and try to teach others, like you, in case you’re faced with the same issue of either lending out your vehicle or being the one borrowing it. (Oh, and now my parents know since they read this site).

Em, Her Friends and the Car

With all that out in the open now, let’s get back to “Em”. Stacie and I learned that “Em” didn’t care so much for driving herself around so she was letting all her friends and roomates drive the car. Upon hearing this, I immediately told myself it’s not our car anymore and it’s not our problem.

But even worse, rather than driving herself home the first weekend, she made her parents come and pick her up! What?!? Her parents spent almost $2,000 in part to save THEM time, money and mileage during her years in college, and she still makes them pick her up…and they willingly oblige? Sheesh!

Not only did she make her parents pick her up, but she also left the keys with her roomates in case they wanted to use the car.

See above for horror story of letting your friends drive your car unsupervised. Although in this case, it’s not an almost indestructible giant hunk of steel. It’s a little plastic Pontiac.

That poor car won’t make it past the first 6 months. Anyone accepting bets?

About the author

Clever Dude

6 Comments

  • Em has a lot of lessons to learn that her parents are not teaching. On a more practical side, if one of Em’s friends causes an accident, the insurance company may have some questions about how the vehicle is being used and by whom – leading to a coverage denial.

    As for your guilt, you might want to do a little more than confess it, another charitable gesture when you can afford it might ease your pain.

  • CD
    I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but you did sell them the car – for money. It belongs to them now – So I think you have to try to let this go 🙂 Also, Em’s parents didn’t lend the car to her – they gave it to her. And they apparently didn’t put any conditions on the gift, which means if she wants to lend it to her friends, I guess she can. Maybe she feels that she needs to do that to be popular and win friends – which is kind of sad, but understandable.

    Also, I have to say that she didn’t “make” her parents pick her up. They are exercising their free will.

    I would try to look on the positive side – these are clearly very loving parents. Maybe they don’t always make the best choices, but who does? And maybe Em is irresponsible, but weren’t most of us at that age (as your own story indicates)? Try not to be so hard on them. At least you only sold them a car – not a puppy.

  • What ever happened to good old fashioned arrogance and selfishness? I don’t mean to phrase it quite that way, but I’ve never let anyone borrow any one of my vehicles – ever. How can it be so hard to just say ‘no’? I don’t think I’ve even had to turn anyone down, as everyone knows better than to ask.

  • I didn’t have a car during college so I borrowed one from my roommates. But I was always careful with it. I think I didn’t even borrow a car until my sophomore year, when I knew the people quite well. I did have one roommate who told us up front we couldn’t borrow her car, so I didn’t ask. That worked too.

    But yeah, it’s her learning experience.

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