One of the reasons I don’t have a car is that it’s another thing to take care of. But as I look around and observe a lot of cars, I notice so many of them in rough shape with dirt, rust, scrapes, dents and everything else, as if the owner just doesn’t care.
Negligence of anything, whether it’s a car, a bicycle, a pair of shoes, a suit or one’s home, not only demonstrates one of the seven deadlies (sloth), but it also shortens the life of the item. Imagine how much longer things would last and how much less waste we’d produce if we took better care of our stuff.
I notice this more with things that are inexpensive. The attitude seem to be “Well, it was cheap, so it’s not really worth taking care of,” which is a shame.
In my own relatively simple apartment lifestyle, this comes into play with things like kitchen tools, furniture, my bicycle and, of course, my clothes. When I’m deciding what to bring into my life/home, I consider the quality carefully. As a proud thousandaire, most of these things fall onto the more affordable spectrum, though I take care of them as if these things have real value. I wipe down my bicycle, maintain the brakes and keep the chain lubricated. I keep my razor handle sanitary. I clean my apartment and vacuum my rugs and carpets. I polish my shoes and maintain the soles and heels with taps. I’ve honed rudimentary sewing skills to restore buttons that may have popped or seams that have come open.
My custom suits cost around $500, but I treat them like I paid $5,000. I keep them on good hangers that maintain the shoulder shape, I keep the wool looking fresh with a clothes brush, I steam or press them by hand when they need it, and I have them dry cleaned only when absolutely necessary (about once or twice each year). And they all still look terrific.
Another item that comes to mind is my 60 year old vintage pea coat. Over the 20 years I’ve owned it, it’s undergone numerous touch-ups and fixes with buttons and seams. I could have easily thrown it out or given it to a thrift shop. But it’s a great coat and an original Navy issue made with a wool that is really hard to come by these days. Taking care of it is worth it to me. And it still looks amazing.
If I had a car – no matter how much it cost – you’d better believe I’d keep it clean, waxed, vacuumed and dusted (windows, too!); I’d get the oil changed when necessary; and I’d bring it in for prescribed check ups so that even when the odometer hit six figures, it’s still looking good and running well.
We’re in a culture of uber disposability. When something stops working, when we’ve neglected it or when our eye is caught by a sexier upgrade, we so often throw it out and add to a growing pile of waste. It’s lazy and unproductive. We can do better.
So whether something cost $50, $500, $5,000 or $50,000… take care of it. And it will take care of you.