“Give me the cheapest car you have. That’s all I care about.”

The Ride
The Driver: Mike
Vehicle in Question: 2008 Toyota Matrix
Spotted at: Charlestown near the Leonard Zakim Bridge, 1-19 Constitution Rd, 02129
Odometer: 97,401


Q: Hi Mike, what are you doing here in Charlestown near the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge?

A: Charlestown is where the warehouse I manage is located. I’m often wandering around here with lots of newspapers stacked in my car.

Q: Tell us about your car.

A: It’s a 2008 Toyota Matrix with almost 100,000 miles on it.

Q: Wow, that’s a lot of miles! How did you get so many miles on your car?

A: I do a lot of driving for work, either for my nine to five–or my five to nine. I manage sites in Boston, Providence and Portland, Maine. I do quite bit of mileage just for my day job, which involves trekking around a ton of newspapers. I also work as a sound engineer for a 15 piece swing band, so I load lots of speakers into it. Then I play in a band, so it is also my tour vehicle that I load up with base gear, guitars, amps and other kinds of gear.

Q: What made you buy this car?

A: I wanted a hatchback that I could fit a lot of stuff into. I had pretty much narrowed it down that I wanted a Matrix. I went into the Toyota dealership and said, “Give me the cheapest car you have, five-speed and four wheels. That’s all I care about.”

Q: Did you have to negotiate at all?

A: I walked away and lined up that I was going to buy a used one. The guy happened to call me right before I made the deal on the used one. I told him what I was going to pay, and he said, for $500 more, he would give me a brand new one. I went with the brand new one.

Q: Sounds like you got the right car with all that you put in it. What’s the largest thing you’ve put in it?

A: I put some table saws in there, a full carpet and I’ve put a surprising amount of furniture in there as well. I once fit a full dining room table in the car.

Q: How much time do you think you spend in your car?

A: Way too much! If I drive 25,000 miles a year, that’s 2,000-plus a month. That’s a lot of hours.

Q: Would you say your car is your sanctuary or a coffin?

A: I would say it is a bit of both because it allows me to get away from things, but it is also something I can never get away from.

Q: Do you have any rituals or things you like to do alone in the car?

A: I do a little war driving. I usually have a laptop with me, so I drive around until I find an open internet source, so I can work my laptop while I’m in the car.

Q: Maybe you should get one of those mobile wireless cards.

A: That would just mean I would drive and search the internet at the same time. I already text and drive enough!

Q: Do those backseats actually ever come up? I see they are down now.

A: Very rarely. The car usually has newspapers, bikes, whatever I find on the side of the road. I’m kind of a trash picker and my car allows me to pick up any trash I find on the side of the road.

Q: What’s the best trash you’ve found?

A: I found some ramps to put your car up on when you change your oil.

Q: How does your car do driving around in Boston?

A: Great. A lot of people think it must be real annoying to have a five-speed and sit in traffic all the time, but after awhile it’s just second nature. I’ll always drive a standard. It gives you more of a thrill when driving, like you’re part of the machine, as opposed to letting the machine control you.

Q: Do you have any tricks to driving in Boston?

A: Considering the roads were laid out by cows just walking in a certain path, as opposed to any sort of logical sense, once you know your way around, you kind of figure things out. When to hop on Memorial Drive and when to avoid it. When to hop on Storrow Drive and when to avoid.

Photos and interview by Melissa Ostrow

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