“Don’t stop…we’re just cleaning out the car.”

Until November of 2017 we were driving a 2006 Hyundai Elantra. It was a pretty OK car, it was reliable and got us where we needed to go. I also found it particularly easy to drive. But as we are in NY state, we lost it to the ever cruel rust and emission inspection. Enter our new to us 1986 Volvo, exempt from emissions (Score!) and 100,000 miles fewer miles than the Elantra despite it being 20 years older.

Out with the old, and in with the…older?

Since we purchased the Elantra for $1200 and drove it for almost 3 years we felt pretty good about letting it go. We certainly got our money’s worth. However, it was a while before we actually let it go. By late November, the snow was high, and since we parked it off to the side of our lot, it was very soon covered in snow. I don’t mean a light dusting- it was more like: One of the 10’ snow drifts by the road has a car inside. We were in no rush, so it sat through all of winter, which we can agree, where we live, translates to mid-April.

There are 2 cars in there…somewhere.

After the thaw, we were reminded that we still had the Elantra (Oh, there it is!). I really wanted to get rid of it before we left for our summer gig (yes, we got rid of it in May, we’re just now getting to posting about it). Mr. SS researched the possible solutions and found a place that would tow it away and give us $150 for it. It broke our hearts to see a fully functioning car, albeit considerably worse for wear, going to be dismantled, but it was good to know it’s parts would be recycled and what couldn’t be would be reclaimed. Only one thing remained- cleaning out the car.

We scheduled that task for a Saturday morning. For once the weather was with us and it was actually pleasant to be outside. Now the thing to keep in mind is that both of us consider ourselves minimalists. We have downsized to live in 200 square feet. We do Project 333. We’ve pretty much stopped buying non-consumables. We don’t think of ourselves as having a lot of “stuff”. To that end, we thought it would be interesting to catalogue what was actually in our vehicle, unused for the entire winter. The results are both shocking and surprising. The list is below. Strap in, it’s about to get detailed.

  • One bag of instant charcoal, unopened
  • A bundle of 25 wooden stakes, unopened
  • 9 picture frames with assorted photographs and artwork
  • A knit hat
  • A pair of sweatpants
  • A hand knit shawl
  • A bed sheet
  • A pair of athletic socks
  • A pair of gloves
  • A second pair of gloves
  • A bundle of netting
  • A golden rose brooch
  • A picnic kit (plastic silverware, sweetener & salt packets, napkins in a ziploc bag)
  • A bottle of laundry detergent
  • Wedding marketing materials (For Mr SS’s business)
  • A spool of wide blue ribbon
  • 5 small notebooks
  • 1 sketchbook
  • 8 mechanical pencils
  • 27” bicycle inner-tube
  • 4 pair of sunglasses
  • 12’ indoor extension cord
  • A length of cable
  • A work vest
  • A costume hard hat
  • Lip gloss
  • Decorative sign
  • A paint marker
  • Wire strippers
  • Halloween devil’s horns
  • Umbrella
  • 3 pieces of driftwood for future art projects
  • A hiking/walking stick
  • A bag of cat litter
  • A power steering pump cable
  • Ice scraper
  • A can of “Great Stuff” expanding foam
  • Roadside kit including: motor oil, power steering fluid, air flow sensor cleaner, wire strippers, large can of fix-a-flat, roll of electrical tape, 10 piece wrench set, phillips head screwdriver, bottle jack, air conditioning recharge refrigerant, assortment of zip-ties, work gloves, wire, a tow strap, 2 large bundles of twine, bungee cords. This is all contained in a black milk crate.
  • 10 “hurricane straps” (construction hardware)

The kicker is that most of this stuff is junk (and we didn’t even catalogue the actual trash!). But in order to keep track of it for the writing of this post, we started laying it out on the lawn so that we could organize it and document it. And that’s when people started slowing down their cars, and peering at us with interest. They thought we were having a yard sale, and carefully ogling our “goods” on their way to wherever they were going that Saturday. “Don’t stop, we’re just cleaning out the car”. And chances are, if they cleaned out theirs they would have a mountain of treasure-junk just like this one. We, self proclaimed minimalists, had 89 (!) items, completely unused for months in a car we hadn’t driven for just as long. I think it’s safe to say we all have too many things.

2 thoughts on ““Don’t stop…we’re just cleaning out the car.”

  1. Costa Rica FIRE says:

    Too funny – too many nooks and crannies to hid stuff in cars! A few years ago I went through something similar (getting rid of old car several months after I had upgraded) but when I went to get rid of my old car and opened the trunk, I found it more than half filled with water! It must have sprung a leak in the months I had just left it sitting there in the driveway and filled up with rain water. I was very happy to be rid of that piece of junk!


    1. Mr. SS says:

      Haha! Ours was remarkably water proof enough to survive the melting of all of that snow. But I bet that was a big surprise for you 🙂


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