Saturday, February 21, 2009

Messy Cars

Last week I decided to become a Clean Car Person. It's a lofty goal, as any stranger who has glanced at my backseat could tell you.

I know of four groups of Messy Car People. One group is the Just Plain Sloppy. The second group is Moms--women who used to keep clean cars before resigning themselves to a higher calling. The third group consists of Students and Small Apartment Dwellers.
Historically I have belonged to this third category. When I was going to school full-time and working at Olive Garden the rest of the time, my backseat served as a library/wardrobe. When I later moved into an apartment with a startling lack of closet space, I would actually bring items from the apartment to store in my car. Pete would ask, "Where are our photo albums?" and I would answer, "Left side of the trunk towards the back." (This is a lie. Pete never asks to look at our photo albums.)

The fourth and final group is Randy Peterkort. There may be others who have reached this sophisticated level of messiness, but he is the only one I have met in person. I once spent a road trip testing 75+ pens for ink and reading aloud from 25+ Indiana antique store pamphlets. In the end he reluctantly agreed to part with 30-some inkless pens and four pamphlets (duplicates). To reward my efforts I selected treats from his dashboard candy shop; to rejuvenate my intellect (dulled by the ink testing and and pamphlet reading) I studied the Constitution of the United States. Randy has a copy in the middle counsel, next to the Declaration of Independence and a back-stash of Tizzlers.

Now, I am not choosing to be a Clean Car Person because I think it is intrinsically better than being a Messy Car Person; on the contrary, I think there are many seasons in a person's life when it isn't logical to keep a clean car. It would have been inefficient to continuously stock and clear my car of books, aprons and ties. For what, a clean car while I slept? Cleanliness and organization only makes sense to the point that the efforts don't outweigh the benefits.
Moms and other busy people who keep a clean car may be serving their aesthetic visual preferences (which is right and fine), but they aren't necessarily more productive for doing so. And I can't think of any reason why being comfortable in order is better than being comfortable in mess. Just think of all the times you could have used the Declaration of Independence while driving! I can't think of any, so I appreciate your help illustrating my point.

The "cleaner is not intrinsically better" truth also applies to living rooms, closets, drawers and desks. The one exception is a clean kitchen, which is superior in every way to a messy kitchen. I definitely want to become a Clean Kitchen Person.

I am choosing to keep a clean car because I enjoy a clean car and because it makes sense in this season. A clean car lends a certain calmness and a feeling of put-togetherness that (though perhaps artificial) feels nice. A clean car is a special kind of luxury, one I can afford at this point in my class-less, olive garden-less, child-less life. Also, I am a part-time service rep and an online student, which makes a clean car one of the only luxuries I can afford.

Next week: "Becoming a Rich Person."


Erin said...

a woman after my heart...i couldn't agree more.

Olivia said...

I really want to be a clean car person, after reading this. Well, I want my husband to be.

BethLaurren said...

Having a clean car is calming, and purposeful. It says to anyone that walks past you and you have your stuff together (and that you have no children!)

Now...if I could get NICK onboard with that - my life would be complete.

Yes. Complete.