I Want to Be a Soccer Mom

by Abigail Drachman-Jones | 11/9/01 6:00am

You could say that I have grown up in my own Volvo dealership. Not literally, of course -- my parents neither work for nor own a dealership -- but they certainly contribute to one. In my 20 years, we have owned eight Volvos. And while I claim to have close to no knowledge about cars on a general level, I am a Volvo lover through and through.

The Lee Imported Cars dealership in Wellesley, Mass., loves my family. They know our names; they know what types of cars we like; they know to give us a little gift in the trunk of a newly bought car. When I was younger, I even came up with my own benefits system modeled after Starbucks's free coffee card: after every Volvo bought, the customer gets a stamp on a Volvo Card, and after 10 stamps, the customer gets a free Volvo. Considering we were well on our way to a free car, the idea sounded pretty good to me. When I told a salesman my idea, he clearly begged to differ.

My family's Volvo collection has consisted of two sedans (my personal favorites), and six station wagons, being that all-purpose choice for a four-person family. We let a stranger into our Volvo community only once -- a Saab 900 when I was three years old. And although it was a part of the Drachman-Jones family for a short time, I have loyally kept my allegiance to the Volvo line like the daughter my parents brought me up to be.

My allegiance has been tested, however, at different points during my life as a driver. Yet it was the "I wish I had an SUV" phase that seemed to dominate. After I got my license and started driving a green station wagon to high school each day (the one that was plastered with high school and college stickers), I suddenly realized that my car did not make me look like the cool sophomore I thought myself to be; I was instead a soccer mom. I was my mom. In my mind, an SUV was the ideal car; big, noticeable, towering -- what more could I want?

But I harbored the sentiments that my parents taught me: "Volvos are the safest cars available," they argued. "They can endure an accident, will not flip over like an SUV will, and do not use up gas as quickly " And so went my Volvo education.

Yet my arrival at Dartmouth did not help suppress my desire to own an SUV. I always realized that the SUV had a distinct presence on campus, but it was not until my sophomore summer, when I had my own car at school (a Volvo, of course), that I realized I was now in the minority. I was no longer in the Volvo community I found in my driveway, but in the land of the SUV. And I wanted one, too.

But now, as I sit at home writing this article, I no longer have the desire to drive an SUV. Saturday, Nov. 3, marked my newfound hatred for the SUV, when a huge black one rammed into the back of my car as I was stopped and signaling to make a left-hand turn. And it was not just a big car -- it was instead enormous, a monster. The crash was piercing, and lurched me forwards and then straight back against the seat and headrest. Needless to say, my head and neck suffered severely, and I now sit here in a neck brace, medicated on painkillers and muscle relaxers. But this experience is quite another story.

Being the first accident of my driving career -- and luckily not my own fault -- my first reaction, as I sat in the middle of crowded Western Avenue, was to scream and cry and scream a whole lot more. Which I did, for about 10 minutes straight. Once I finally realized that I was still alive and able to see, speak, and hear, I rolled down the window to the two men standing outside of my car door.

"Are you okay, miss?" they yelled. "Can you understand us? Are you hurt? Do you need an ambulance?" Their questions went on and on, until I finally composed myself long enough to move my car to the side of the road and figure out what happened. Getting out of the car, I met the other driver -- and his SUV that hit my car -- and surveyed the damage. My trunk was smashed in half and would not close, the lights were broken, black streaks lined the silver-gray paint, the back door on the right side would not close, and chunks were missing from my bumper. And the other driver's car? Considering that his vehicle, an SUV, is perched so high off of the ground, his bumper essentially rammed into my trunk (thus making my own bumper useless); and so all he has to worry about is reattaching his license plate to the front of his car.

Over $8,000 of damage later, I have now lost my desire to be behind the wheel of a giant car. Even insurance companies realize this, as they are attempting to raise the premium rate for SUV drivers from the very start. Although I once yearned for the power and control I felt that time I drove my friend's SUV to Dartmouth from Boston, I guess you could say that I am now more attached to Volvos than I ever have been. I do not mind looking like a soccer mom anymore. I like coming home to a driveway that looks like our own family showroom for the Volvo company. I like the familiar, and I like what is safe. Against my better wishes, I confess that I agree with my parents on this one. However, I realize that many of you reading this article might own an SUV. Well, that is fine -- I am not telling you to go out and buy a Volvo and park it in my driveway. Just don't drive your big, towering car near mine, that's all.