Today, I said goodbye to my first car.
My little, black, manual transmission, 2006 Toyota Corolla, now known as “Waking Nightmare,” was towed away today.
I thanked the car for its service. The person from the towing company arrived, handed me the donation receipt (the car is going to Habitat for Humanity), and drove away.
The life of “Waking Nightmare”
As I watched the car turn the bend, I was overcome with sudden emotion, and I am not ashamed to admit that I shed real tears.
That is when it struck me.
“Waking Nightmare,” despite being a construct of metal, plastic, and fabric, was a piece of my life and a piece of my soul.
Here are some things to know about my car:
- We shared 180,000 miles together—I bought the car used at 70,000 miles and drove it to 250,000 miles on the odometer.
- The car was my first really “big” purchase. I bought it when I was at college.
- I practically lived out of it during my college years, from commuting to college, to driving an hour to work, to going out in the city on many nights. I remember afternoons sitting in it at the school parking lot, listening to podcasts (before they were cool), and eating lunch.
- “Waking Nightmare” sat in the driveways of five different apartments.
- I eventually put a custom sound system in it, and I would spend many days driving around with friends or with the car full of music equipment, driving to shows.
- In times of need, when I was a naughty twenty-something, the car was my retreat when it was not a good idea to drive. I spent more than one overnight, sleeping in my car.
- Many of my friends know that old jalopy and laugh when I bring it up. I used the car to run favors or pick friends and family up and drive them places.
- I got in three accidents with the car. This includes hitting a deer late at night, backing into a parked car, and rear-ending someone on the notorious 95/195 split in Providence, RI, the statistically most dangerous intersection in all of New England.
- It came with me when I went soul searching. I drove the car all the way down to Atlanta and around the East Coast on a soul searching trip. I met my life partner a couple of weeks later.
This is my normally professional blog, so how do I tie it back to life lessons and business?
Well… this is a 15 year case study of why selling the experience is more important than selling the product. It’s not the features. It’s the benefits.
In the famous talk by Steve Jobs, he talks about this fact.
Notice, that I didn’t talk above about my long commutes every day, 45 miles one way or how it got me where I wanted to go over the course of 180,000 miles.
My Toyota Corolla wasn’t a “car,” it truly was a spiritual partner throughout a formative time in my life.
It wasn’t a 1.8 liter, 4-cylinder engine that got 35 miles per gallon
It was reliable, resilient, rebellious, and scrappy, when I needed it to be.