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Thursday, February 05, 2009

I'll Let My Husband Know He Should Park Elsewhere

This letter to the editor (emphasis mine) appeared in this week's Yated. I will let my husband know not to park our paid for, yet highly unfashionable car far away from the local Yeshiva Gedolah. I really, really, really hope this letter is a pre-Purim joke!

Dear Editor,
I would like to raise an issue that I know many of my fellow talmidei hayeshiva and yungeleit feel strongly about. When parking a car in a yeshiva parking lot, it is important to remember that your car is reflecting a makom Torah in chutz la’aretz. Therefore, it is highly inappropriate to park certain vehicles in a yeshiva parking lot.
If your car looks like it has been used for drag racing, it does not belong in the parking lot.
If your car is so high off the ground that you need clearance from the air traffic controller, then your car does not belong in the parking lot.
If your car has undergone so many surgical procedures that it now bears more resemblance to an antique piece of furniture than a car, you should find another place to park.
Last, but not least, if your car has doors that are a different color than the frame of your car, or if your car has been dented so many times that it should have a bumper sticker reading, “This car made it through the asteroid belt,” your car certainly should not be parked in the parking lot.
If you are a true ben Torah, then you should look like a ben Torah, act like a ben Torah, and drive like a ben Torah.

Yankel Shprecher
A Bochur in Yeshiva

Number 1, I could teach some of these b'nai Torah a few things about driving. And regarding our worn down car and those like it, I will quote a famous bumper sticker: "Don't laugh, it's paid for." Perhaps someone can print a bumper sticker for the car pool line that reads: "Tuition assistance made possible this jalopy."

No wonder the frum community is up to its eyes in debt!!!


Shoshana said...

"If you are a true ben Torah, then you should look like a ben Torah, act like a ben Torah, and drive like a ben Torah."

I agree. I think the vehicles described in this letter are *exactly* what a ben Torah should be driving. Especially if he takes public assistance, tuition help, does not earn a salary (or a legal salary), has any number of children and a working wife.

Ezzie said...

"Yankel Shprecher"

I'm sorry, this has gotta be a fake.

Lion of Zion said...

the air traffic control line is great

Mike S. said...

This hits a sore point with me. Some years back, when full tuition for 4 kids was taking up more than half my take home pay, I bought a very old (but functional) used car for $400. I heard one of the administrators at the school making fun of my kids for riding in such an old car. It still gets me upset 20 years later.

ProfK said...

I agree with Ezzie; this letter has to be contrived. I have more than once thought that the Yated writes some of the letters published. It gives them a way to raise a subject without having actually been the ones to raise the subject.

SephardiLady said...

I knew this would hit a soar point with Mike S as he has mentioned this story before.

ProfK-Even if it is a fake, it is very hurtful to say that the cars some people drive are not good enough for a Ben Torah. We are in a middle of a recession. Every tzedakah dealing with feeding families is seeing an increase in business. We are apparantely going to hear an appeal for a so called "Parnasah Fund" and the Yated sees fit to print a letter, real or fake, about people who don't drive chashuv enough cars and dare park their engine on wheels in the Yeshiva parking lot.

Has the RW community completely lost its marbles? Well, I won't answer that. But I do have a sad story coming up.

tesyaa said...

Not so long ago frum Jews were known for driving old clunkers. (A non-frum friend of mine used to make fun of the old station wagons, etc.) Don't know when the Lexus craze started.

This is off topic, but does anyone know why Brooklynites who move to NJ keep their registration in NY? When I moved to NJ my husband pointed out that our NY insurance wouldn't cover a claim if it was proved that we were indeed NJ residents. Families who have lived in NJ for the better part of a decade and even buy new cars drive around with NY plates. Of course, the cars are probably registered in their father-in-law's names, but still...

Critically Observant Jew said...

The name seems fake. Can't stop but think of how one would spell that: Sh, P, R, E, Ech, Ech, E, R.

As for cars: a friend of mine asked me when I'd replace my trusty '93 Saturn with over 210k miles on it (now it's used for very light commuter duty - 1.5 mi each way). Well, he managed to buy 3 cars while mine is still going strong.

SephardiLady said...

Critically Observant-That car is helping build a stronger financial foundation. May it keep going strong.

If I take the (used) purchase price of our oldest car and divide by the number of years owned, I get $440. I wonder what your friend's average would be. At least 10 time that amount, I'm sure.

ProfK said...

There is one definite advantage to an older car, especially if it "lives" in a neighborhood of newer cars: no one is going to bother to steal it. And my car insurance costs less on it. My '99 Toyota still gives me great gas mileage and gets me where I have to go. It's not what it looks like but what's under the hood that is important. What's next? Required plastic surgery for all people over 50 so they will "look right" when they come into the yeshiva building?

There is also this. If I were being asked to donate money to a yeshiva and all I saw in the parking lot were new, expensive cars I'd say no thank you and wouldn't give. After all, if those people have enough money to buy expensive cars, they have enough money to support their own yeshiva by themselves.

Critically Observant Jew said...

SephardiLady: not sure about $440 yearly expenses though. My rule of thumb is: if the used car needs more than $1k in repairs per year (mine needed over $500 last year, btw), then it's time for a new one. But a lot of times it's the stuff that wears out, like brakes, muffler, tires.

SephardiLady said...

Our repairs on both cars have been regular, like brakes, tires, and some small leaks. I believe we had the air conditioning repaired once in our newer car.

I agre with you that if the repairs start getting too large and too frequent, it is time to part ways.

My $440 doesn't include maintenance. But the maint hasn't become anything beyond the usual, so I'm keeping our wheels that I now know should never be parked in from of a Yeshiva.

G-d forbid anyone should see a worn down car and learn a thing or two about making due!

Dave said...

I buy late model, used cars, with low mileage, and run them until they die.

I have never had a car payment in excess of $250/month.

That means that the $1000/yr would be 4 months payments. I could double that and still be ahead.

And I don't count wear items; I'm not going to buy a new car because the tires have worn out on the old ones.

JS said...

Of course there's a flip side to this nonsense letter. No matter how nice one's clothes are, one is required to where the "uniform" to shul. If you're a man, you MUST wear a black suit and a white shirt to shul. No ifs, ands, or buts. What I find so ironic, is that it's perfectly acceptable to wear a worn out, dirty, cheap black suit and white shirt. Oh, and cheap black shoes, often black sneakers. And yet, someone can come in wearing an expensive pair of non-black slacks, an expensive crisp colored shirt, beautiful well-shined shoes, and he's looked at like a freak.

Note, I'm not saying one need dress expensively, just that it's horribly hypocritical to complain about another's car or furniture or other things that are "oh so important" in the frum community, and yet it's perfectly OK to look like a shlump in shul as long as you're wearing the uniform (and yet not OK to look like a million bucks, if you're not).

concernedjewgirl said...

I realized while reading this article that the last time I actually cared what other people thought of me was in the 9th grade. Yup, first grade of high school. When I finally went on to the 10th grade and beyond I realized that I have no time nor room in my life for petty people.
This holds true today.
Both my husband and I drive oldies but goodies. They are reliable, well maintained and above all PAID OFF!!!
Anyone has any problems with that they are more than welcome to go ahead and BUY ME FULL OUT, NO PAYMENTS PLEASE a new car. But, until that happens (which I'm likely to assume will be NEVER) they can all keep it to themselves!
If I hear anyone making fun of our cars (and sometimes amongst friends and family we hear about it) I usually respond with: "If I may inquire how much are your car payments monthly"? When the sum is given no matter if its as low as $250 a month I reply with: "My payments are ZERO, shall we discuss further or are we done on this topic"?

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

I wonder how Yankel Schmendrick would feel about me, parking my motorbike in front of the beit midrash when I'm teaching? And would it matter if it were my '01 fairly modern model, or my trusty repaired-it-many-times-myself 30 year old bike? Both combined, btw, cost less than a car. And they're paid for. And the car I drive in winter is also paid for. And I save a lot on gas, insurance, etc. And yes, I'm even guilty of enjoying the ride to work or the beit midrash.

I won't even ask where he got the stupid ideas about certain cars being unacceptable. Did anyone notice some ethnic stereotyping in there? And gross disrespect for someone hardworking and self-sufficient enough to keep using what works just fine, thank you.

Maybe this was a snide parody of some comments that Yankel really has heard. That's what scares me - at some point, someone has really said something like this.

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Oh, and until recently my wife drove a beat-up trusty old truck. Is that a double no-no, because maybe a woman shouldn't drive a pickup, let alone a beat-up dented one?

rachel in israel said...

ahh, now Hashem has commanded up to keep up with the Goldbergs...

RAM said...

If this issue should ever come up in real life, try Earl Scheib. Not pretty, but pretty cheap.

Anonymous said...

sorry, it is a parody of all the dress codes, and arm swinging codes, and dropping off the husband by the beis medrash codes.
it is just not a real letter, no need to get indignant.
(could be his real name, i know more than one family with that name, but the letter itself-- definitely parody)

G said...

"Yankel Shprecher"

I'm sorry, this has gotta be a fake.

I disagree -

Moishe Pipick

Litvak said...

Since when does every Yeshiva guy need a car to go to Yeshiva (not to say that all do, but more than in the past)? Since when does almost every frum person over eighteen (in some circles) need their own car?

There should be more riding bicycles, walking (healthier), carpooling or even taking public transportation.

It's a shame that so many frum people have gotten so enmeshed in the car culture and addicted to it.

Many, especially of the more affluent, frum types, have bought into the failed and bankrupt suburbanization and car culture model, rather than the more densely populated, more urban and intense frum culture of yesteryear, where it was like an urban shtetl and people walked alot (still exists today in some urban areas). Okay, true, many don't even realize it, but it is something that should be looked at and reexamined. When surrounding cultures are creating a new dynamic urbanism and trying to cut back the dependence on sprawl and cars, we should not be going full speed in the opposite direction.

SephardiLady said...

I was hoping someone would ask why every yeshiva guy needs a car in the first place. Thanks Litvack, I can always count on you.

I always wondered why our Yeshiva neighbors would drive a half mile to Yeshiva. I'm as dependent on my car as the next, but I certainly wasn't when school was my major concern.