“The things you own end up owning you.”

A timely message from one of my friend Rob's recent driveway quotes. You can't argue with a driveway.

Fight Club is one of my favourite movies. At one point Brad Pitt’s character, Tyler Durden says “The things you own end up owning you.” I’m not one to argue with Brad Pitt and my recent adventures with car ownership have really reinforced what he’s saying.

As you may know, a few weeks ago I crashed my car (click here to read that post). And while losing my car—which was deemed a total loss—wasn’t the end of the world, the ensuing process of settling with my insurance company and finding a replacement vehicle was such a headache. The fun included:

  • Arranging to have my wrecked car picked up by the collision centre
  • Getting a rental car set up
  • Dealing with Paul the insurance adjuster
  • Dealing with Pia the other insurance adjuster I got when my claim got sent to the total loss department
  • Picking up my plates from the collision centre
  • Waiting and worrying and more waiting and worrying about how much I’d get out of the settlement
  • Researching what my old car is worth so I’d know if I was being low-balled
  • Brushing up on my insurance policy and the Ontario Insurance Act in case I needed to put up a fight
  • Crunching the numbers of my personal budget to see how this situation would affect me financially
  • Searching for cars online
  • Visiting the Toyota dealership in Guelph…
  • And then the Honda dealership…
  • Hyundai dealership…
  • GM dealership…
  • KIA dealership (luckily they’re all next to each other!)
  • Test driving cars
  • Negotiating with car salespeople when I have zero haggling abilities and know nothing  about cars (yup, it’s got cup holders – looks good to me!)
  • Finally settling on a car
  • Signing the paperwork while I prayed I didn’t just buy a lemon
  • Calling my insurance to transfer my coverage to the new car
  • Returning my rental car
  • And finally pulling into my driveway with my new set of wheels.

Individually, none of the above is a big deal. But what it adds up to is weeks of my life being consumed by these blasted cars. So much of my time, money and energy went into it that at times it did indeed feel as though the thing I owned really owned me.

The novelist, Oliver Goldsmith, said it well: “Our chief comforts often produce our greatest anxieties, and the increase in our possessions is but an inlet to new disquietudes.”  Another argument in favour of simple living.

The less you have the less you have to worry about.

I'm going to try really hard not to crash this one. I promise.

In the end things worked out just fine with the insurance company and I was actually pleasantly surprised with how much I got back. I ended up buying a Hyundai Accent (used of course – this is after all still a Buy Nothing New year) and I’m very happy with it. It has several cup holders. And they did a great job detailing the interior which my dog Stockie is looking forward to covering in hair the next time I drive her somewhere.

What do you think? Have you had any experiences where the things you owned ended up owning you?

I’ll give the last word to Tyler Durden. He may be a bit extreme but some thought-provoking ideas on materialism nonetheless.

Next week: This Sunday I’m participating in a Spartan Race. Mud, blood and barbed wire. If I don’t die I’ll be sure to tell you all about it next week.


Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is the author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.

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4 Responses to “The things you own end up owning you.”

  1. Wendy Therrien says:

    I hear you….

    Your story reminds me of the time a theif broke into my car by smashing the front window and then popping the trunk. In the trunk was my bike. Not just any bike but my very nice blue racing bike. And my purse.

    So, I come back to my car. Holy Shit… is that the window that is broken. Crap. I look around as though the culprit would wave at me if he were still in the vicinity. I pop the trunk – heart thumping – man am i going to be PISSED if they stole my road bike.

    Nope. the bike, worth about 2000 bucks is still there undisturbed. What did they take then?? yes, my purse! My purse contained two dollars.

    I drove home, mentally recalling my credit card number etc.

    I can not tell you how many hours I then spent replacing everything in my purse: my cards, my glasses, my passport, my sin card and then there was my car window. In the end, the whole thing probably cost me about $1000 not including labour. All of this because someone wanted my cheap plastic purse containing two bucks.

    Next time, just ask me for my cash…. it’ll save me ALOT of hassle.

    What irritates me most about this story is how much these seemingly meaningless things actually mean… i mean, glasses aside, we are talking about 6 or so small pieces of hard plastic. Lined up in two columns they don’t even cover a piece of 9*5 paper. The things you own ….

  2. Dianne Martin says:

    Come on Josh …..I expected to see strawberries in this post or scones or even a picture of the Gotchie Homestead…..but all kidding aside nice car….

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