Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Like a root canal without Novacaine... by Karen Rose

I have sunk to a new low.  I have contemplated grand theft auto.  Of course I would never do this.  I would never even have thought about this heinous act, except for an Inciting Incident.


So what was my Inciting Incident?  I have to buy a car.  I don’t want to buy a car.  I liked our old car. 


Now our old car wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, even my imagination.  First, it was a minivan.  I don’t like minivans.  They are too big for me, but my husband says they are practical and on long trips we could isolate our two daughters in separate areas so they didn’t whine and fight or even breathe each other’s air. 


Our van had 150,000+ miles, no a/c (in Florida this is a honkin’ big deal), and was on its fifth transmission (yes, its fifth).  It had sand on the carpet in the very back and smelled faintly of dead fish as my husband used it when he went fishing.   On the plus side, the power windows and radio still worked well.  This was a benefit as my husband sat stranded on the highway for 3 hours last week waiting for a tow truck.  (I was out of town, of course.)


More on the plus side, the van was paid for.  And ours.  Now it’s dead, victim of old age and [arguably] bad engineering.  I will mention no car manufacturer names, although I should.  Five transmissions is just plain shameful.


So now we must buy another minivan.  Which means dealing with car salesmen.  I’d rather do the first two weeks of the South Beach Diet again.  (Which again, is a honkin’ big deal.)


Now, if you are a car salesperson or married or otherwise involved with a car sales person, this doesn’t include you.  Because I’m sure you are a nice person.   You would not be sleazy or manipulative or just a general jerk.


Like the salesmen I have dealt with.  If you commit grand theft auto, you don’t have to deal with car salesmen.  Let’s see… fifteen years in the penitentiary surrounded by bullies named Bubba who want to be my best buddy or two hours in the company of one of the car salesmen that have wasted my time recently.  I think it’s a hard choice.


I find myself thinking back to the last time I bought a car myself (the minivan is all my husband’s doing, you understand).  It was 1995.  My youngest was still in Pampers.  I still worked for the Pampers company (aka P&G).  I was 32 years old.  Hot flashes were still in my distant future.  Gas was still a buck fifty a gallon, my cell phone was huge, and the Internet still charged by the minute and was primarily frequented by Star Trek geeks (oops, wait, that was me).  My writing career wasn’t even a dream then, just a hobby that kept me out of trouble when I traveled the world for my engineering job.  Yikes, I hadn’t even discovered Law & Order yet.  We won’t even talk about what size I wore then.  I’m depressed enough as it is.


I bought a Honda back in 1995, which by the way, still runs (knock on wood).  My Honda also has 155,000 miles, many dings and dents, but it runs well AND there ain’t nothing wrong with the radio.  I love my Honda.  I remember the day I bought it.  It was all very civilized.  I called the dealer, a printout of their costs in my hand.  (Getting dealer cost was one of the benefits P&G offered back then.)  I said, “I’ll give you $1000 profit. I want a hunter green Honda Accord, V6, beige interior, four door.  Please have it ready at 5:00 tomorrow afternoon with the papers drawn up.”  I walked in promptly at 5:00 the next day and was driving home in my new Honda by 5:25.  This is absolute truth.  My blood pressure remained constant, I was happy.  It was car buying at its best.


Now I’m so totally annoyed I could spit.  My husband went van shopping this weekend. (I was out of town again.  I don’t go out of town at times like this on purpose, but it worked for me this time.)  He calls me with the options.  He’s found 3 used minivans in our price range.  He wants me to see them. 


I really don’t want to.  But I love him, so when I get home I say yes, I’ll go to the dreaded dealer for him.  We go to the first dealer.  This is a 4 year old minivan with 20,000 miles.  It looks brand new.  I am suspicious.  I come up with a dozen different scenarios as to why it’s in such good shape.  I am suspicious by nature.  I like to think of it as a career strength at this stage of my life.


The sales dude (ack, he was like 23 or something) says to my husband, “Hey, you’re back!  You’re lucky.  A lady wanted to buy that minivan today, but I held onto for you.”  Indicating that we should fall down at his feet with gratitude bursting from our hearts.


Now, do I look STUPID?  For the benefit of those who’ve never met me, no I do not.  I am a woman of relative intelligence, but not much patience with little boys who think I’m STUPID.  My body language took over, arms crossed, face frowny.   The sales dude tried to make conversation.  I merely grunted back and told him I was way too old to be playing games like this and to stop pushing me with ludicrous sales ploys.  We ended up leaving for this and other reasons I will spare you. 


This is the part I love.  We were walking out the door and my sweet husband says to me, “Wow you were so good in there.  What a great grouchy act!  What a team we make!”


I love my husband.  He always sees the best in me.  I’m thinking that he’d even bring me a cake with a file in it should I give in to my cowardly instinct and avoid the whole car-buying-exercise altogether.


Which I won’t, of course.  But I can dream, can’t I?  And while I’m at it, I’ll just dream about the size I wore back in 1995…


So, what’s your car-buying experience and what size did you wear in 1995?  No, wait.  Nix on the size thing.  Like I said, I’m depressed enough as it is.


Diane Perkins said...

I'll bet I can guess what make the old van was!
I was so happy to get rid of my minivan in 1995. I loved my little Corolla, which is still going strong.


Nicole said...

Well, we bought a used 2000 car in 2003 that was like new, but when we looked up its history, it had been some corporate car in CA and must have been hardly used. I love that car. It was the first major purchase I made with my husband.

We got some new salesman and ended up not getting a deal (someone else wanted the car too), but not getting skunked as we pretty much paid the blue book value.

So all in all, not a bad experience.

Rachel Hauck said...

Ah Karen, the car buying experience. I think we talked about this at the conference. LOL.

My car buying experience was great, it was AFTER that I was disappointed. I could write a book on things to consider when buying a convertible.

As to what size I wore in '95? I think it was one larger than I wear now. ;)