The High Price of Being Cool

by DavalosMcCormack on October 23, 2009

Shirley's Convertible

Shirley's Convertible

A few years ago Shirley had a Saab convertible. It was such a cool car; sleek, stylish and when we put the top down and drove around town – or better still when we drove into the country – it was lots and lots of fun. But it came with hidden costs, and not all of them had to be paid to her mechanic!

When she first bought the car a dermatologist friend was aghast – I love that word, aghast, it has such a wonderful feel – anyway, she was aghast saying that it was really bad for the skin because riding around with the roof down exposed you to the sun’s rays.

Shirley placated her by saying she would wear a hat. Which she did. Sometimes. But sometimes it was just so gorgeous out and so much fun riding around with the roof down that she, er, forgot.

Now it turns out her skin wasn’t the only thing at risk from riding around roofless. Her hearing was too. That’s because a new study says that riding in a convertible with the roof and windows down – and what other way is there to ride in one, I mean, really! – can damage your hearing.

The study, presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, measured the level of noise that motorists were exposed to while driving at 50, 60 and 70 miles an hour. The meter showed that it didn’t really matter how fast they were going because the decibel level was pretty consistent, around 86 but with a peak of 97.

The researchers say that regular exposure to that kind of sound can cause permanent hearing damage.

The researchers also say that driving with the top up and under 50 mph doesn’t cause any problems. But then why have a convertible for pity’s sake!!!

Think about how embarrassing it could be to visit your doctor and they say “I’ve got bad news, you have skin cancer” and you say “What!” “Skin cancer” “pardon, speak up young man, stop mumbling” and then the doc says “I am diagnosing you with an over dose of convertiblism, take two ear plugs, put the top down and call me in the morning.”

Fortunately the other hidden cost of the Saab intervened to save Shirley’s hearing. The darn thing kept breaking down. Every other month it seemed there was a bill for a new clutch, or new brakes. She would go for a drive and get towed back. The final straw came when the roof went down, but wouldn’t come back up. $500 later Shirley knew it was time to get a new car.

Now we have a Honda Civic. It’s sleek and fun and cool in it’s own way and it doesn’t require regular infusions of cash to keep it going. But it’s not a convertible and on sunny days when we see a convertible drive by with the roof down and the driver has the wind in their hair, the sun in their face and bugs in their teeth,  Shirley sighs.

I know she does because I can hear it. If we hadn’t sold the car that might not be true.

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