Two years ago, Joe and I bit the bullet and traded our 15-year-old Ford Ranger for a Toyota Prius. Though it was hard to see the pick-up go (as my father would say, “A fella needs a pick-up—that’s all there is to it”), we’ve been happy. I am elated every time I pull up to a gas pump and spend something like $15.04 or $18.23 or $12.17 to fill ’er up. I thought I’d never again see such gasoline prices, reminiscent of those I used to pay in the 1970’s.
Nothing is free, however, and even money-saving things cost. Hubcaps, for example, cost more than $100 at the Toyota dealer. Well, I know that that is a rip-off, for goodness sake. Plastic pop-on hubcaps? Why would I even need one you might ask. Because the infernal things don’t wear well when I squeeze the car into a parking place and accidentally get the rear wheel too close to the curb. Scratched, scraped, bent if not broken, the hubcap might last for a day or two, but rolls away when the first big bump jars it enough for it to break loose.
I found online a place where I could get four recycled hubcaps for way less than a single new one costs at the dealer. So I decided to get all four.
Today I took the Prius to the dealer for servicing. And that is another big boon. We paid a reasonable amount to cover maintenance for five years. I like the illusion that it is “free” maintenance. As I got out of the car at the dealership, I noticed that a second hubcap was missing. It was the victim of another scrape I had, running against a curb to avoid hitting some clueless driver that was about to pull out in front of me. I thought that I’d salvaged the hubcap, but apparently it too rolled away on some random street.
Hubcaps do perform a useful function I know. But these are really cosmetic, hardly essential to the health of the wheel and of little necessity in protecting lugs. But cosmetics have their place. Cosmetics prettify things, even automobiles. Hubcaps are mostly decorative. And décor is important to me. I am not deceived into thinking that décor is decisive or essential. I just value appearances.
In the total scheme of things hubcaps can’t compete with health care or justice. But how my car looks matters to me. And how I feel about it is not entirely frivolous.
Or is it?
© Frank Gasque Dunn, 2016