So we have about 15 car seats and three kids and I'm thrilled that Sarah green-lighted a garage-gobbling beast of an infant carrier to set sail on Craigslist. My wife is never hotter than when she gives me that little nod that something can go and, with our kids growing, as they do at a rate of a new car seat every three months, we have a lot of things to let go. The hope, however, is that these released items can be put to good use. I honestly don't know who buys new baby clothes. And if you are that person, please remember that somebody's just going to vomit on them. Most everything that cycles through this house has been worn for generations. I just took a pile of pelts to Goodwill.
Car seats, as you may know, cost somewhere between $150 and the GDP of Brazil, so it's no small victory to get a good used one. And that's the glow that flowed through me as I imagined the uproar of enthusiasm about this highly advanced LATCH system with two bases and lightweight kid carrier on sale for fifty bucks.
Not so. All I got--and I mean a lot--were questions about its expiration date. Car seats have expiration dates. People called me and emailed me and texted me with a battery of questions, and all of them included a query about the shelf life. I understand. Kind of. I mean I understand that you should invest in the child safety industry now. They know how to make a buck. But if we know of anything that doesn't destroy plastic, it's time.
I'm not here to complain about advancements in child safety technology and associated legislation, or that we have to have them in the first place. They're life savers no doubt, and that's because car seats are going to be with us forever.
Your child will expire before that car seat does. Three generations of dolphins will gag on the packaging alone. An entire species of birds will perish in a pool of their own plastic piss before that car seat even has an impression from ten years of chubby dumpling butts. It's a hunk of molded plastic that fighter pilots squeeze into in bombers older than your uncle. It's a rigid homage to chemistry that, in my own tribute to child labor, nearly crushed my knee as I pushed down from the car ceiling to marry our son's first throne to the very soul of our Corolla.
Let's say something does crack a seat. A horrific car accident followed by a bolt of lightning and a herd of frightened elephants. That could happen three days after it was made and years before its expiration date.
Is it bad that people are concerned about expiration dates on plastic? No. It's what we know. We're hounded by never-ending innovations in vehicular entanglements. But please know that our planet will expire long before your car seat.
The story does have a happy ending. Our seat doesn't lapse until January of 2017. With a full arbitrary year for it being the same invincible hunk of plastic that it was five years ago, a handsome middle-aged couple came and bought it for their newborn grandson. They didn't seem to mind that it could self destruct in mere months. Still, I sold it to them for $20, thirty cheaper than the pre-expiration interrogation price. Two minutes later there was a knock on the door. It was the new grandfather. He'd come back with ten more dollars. He insisted I take it because the seat was way nicer than twenty bucks.