A user on the http://www.professionalcar.org/forums/ site I frequently lurk on posited the question: “Why do you own a hearse?”
I found that I didn’t have a really good understanding of what my answer would be. So I decided to delve into it a bit and really postulate a good solid response, or as best as I could muster….
As a young punk adolescent in high-school, just learning to drive, my parents said they’d buy me a car. The key catch was that I had to find one for under $5k. So I picked up an auto trader and started looking…. And what did I find, but a white 1969 Cadillac with red interior and fully operative electric table in the back. I didn’t know enough back then to remember the coach builder’s name, but I do remember thinking that at $2500, I would be saving my parents a ton of money and would be the cool kid at school with the one of a kind car.
My mom looked at me and told me it was a “stupid idea”. That was the first and last time she ever, in a round about way, called me stupid. Lazy, lacking direction, no follow through sure, but only stupid that once. Which is what sealed the deal in my head: I WOULD own a hearse just to prove her wrong. It took me another 16 years, but I finally did it. And ya know what… Mom thinks it is pretty cool now! Go figure. Sometimes you just can’t win 🙂
So ever since high school, I have been dreaming of obtaining a hearse. I won’t lie and say that my pseudo goth childhood and college years had nothing to do with it, as I am sure it did. I wouldn’t say it is a fascination with death, but rather an alluring curiosity into an area which is taboo from normal “life” in Southern California. (We don’t talk about death at all, and tend to hide our cemeteries out of public view, rather than celebrating the lives and legacies of the people we inter.) So, a lot of the motivation for me goes with my personality; I enjoy tweaking people’s perspective and to an extent I just like to be different. Owning a hearse is a concrete and highly visible expression of my ability and desire to make people question things which we often take for granted.
I also enjoy the dichotomy and stark contrast between my Orange County yuppie suburbanite home and job, and the decidedly non-yuppie hearse in my driveway or parking space at work. While everyone drives their SUVs to work, I either commute on my motorcycle, or drive the hearse. While I typically hate to bring attention to myself, driving the hearse is the one thing I do which puts up a huge banner pointing directly at me.
Of course, I seem to have always been drawn to the world of commercial vehicles. Though the hearse is my first step into the world, I have always wanted an old Postal Jeep. I have looked at electrician’s trucks as a semi daily driver also, since they have all the storage I could need as well. Military vehicles are always a big draw, and I was very close to getting a VW Thing ages ago as part of that draw. I even drove a 1992 White Chevy Blazer, similar to the ones Cal-Trans uses just because of the clean, professional, working truck look.
So you see, I don’t drive the hearse solely because it is “macabre” or “dark”. Mainly, I own and drive it as a utilitarian vehicle that can accommodate all of our camping gear (which my now defunct Grand Cherokee couldn’t manage), and as a classic project car. It was an affordable foray into the daunting world of restoration, and with a car I was minorly familiar with as my dad drove a mid-80’s caddy.
So why do I own a hearse? I own it because I enjoy being different. I own it because I need a larger vehicle for camping. I own it because I want character in whatever vehicle I drive. I own it as a raised finger against my mom for calling me stupid. I own it because I enjoy making other people slightly uncomfortable. I own it because it was cheap. I own it because it is a fun conversation starter. I own it because everyone gets out of my way when I drive down the road. I own it because I have always held a fascination with commercial vehicles.
But mainly, I own it because it is fun. After all, isn’t that what life is all about?