September 9, 2008
A friend of mine just got a new car. So of course, one of the first things I did when I saw the car was to throw some coins under the floor mats. He gasped, “What are you doing?!” I said, “I’m putting coins in your car for good luck. That’s what you do when someone gets a new car.” He looked at me like I was crazy. I said, “What? You never heard of that before?” Obviously, he hadn’t. I never knew this was not a universal ritual and tradition.
In my family, for as long as I can remember, for my entire life, whenever someone got a new car, or even bought a used car but it was new to them, you would toss coins under the floor mats the first time you rode in the car. Not a lot of coins, just a few, for good luck. It’s kind of like an offering to the car for safe trips.
When I bought my new car almost 4 years ago, I remember getting mad at my family, because they were going overboard. Each person who got in the car was tossing cash on the floor. I was like “Keep your money, it’s just going to be vacuumed up when I take the car through the car wash.” But they wouldn’t hear of it. I would get replies like “And what if you’re out somewhere and don’t have any money. At least now you’ll always have some in your car.” Of course, the old excuses like “What if you need to make a phone call?” and “What if you need to pay a toll?” don’t apply any more since the advent of cell phones and EZ-Pass. My grandmother even stuffed a 10 dollar bill in my glove compartment. “In case of emergency”, she said.
That bill sat in my glove compartment for 3 years before I finally used it just a few months ago. It was late at night, about 2am, I was coming home and had spent all of the cash in my wallet. Only had credit cards and my ATM card. I had forgotten that I had taken my EZ-Pass out of my car when my windshield was replaced (glass had cracked), and I was faced with a bridge toll that I had to pay in order to get home. At first I thought I was going to have to turn around and find a bank somewhere so I could withdraw some money, but then I remembered my good luck money. I opened my glove compartment, found the bill, paid the toll, and made it home.
Sometimes old traditions are good ones.