"Driving a brand new car feels like driving around
in an open billfold with the dollars
flapping by your ears as they fly out the window."
Grey LivingstonI've been a little (okay, a lot) out of sorts lately. My trusty old van got to the point where every time I drove it something else would go wrong. That would lead to my damsel-in-distress persona having a complete meltdown, which would lead to Sweetie putting some kind of mechanical bandaid on the car and an emotional bandaid on me. In the last few weeks it also meant getting my money's worth from my AAA membership. Let's face it free towing is not really free towing when you've paid a membership fee for over 25 years. It's good to know, however, this damsel has that ace in her back pocket.
The van would get a ride to the fix-it shop and I would look out the window to the empty spot in the driveway, then send up prayers that the cost of the repair would not be more than my credit card could handle. Sometimes the van just sat in the driveway giving me the evil eye just waiting for me to get in, buckle up, and want to go somewhere.
Over the years this vehicle has been a faithful servant. It has taken me many places, more times than it's left me stranded. There was, however, that one time in the parking lot of Raiford prison,(Don't ask!) that still sends shivers down my back. Still there comes a time when even the most faithful of cars must go to that great rust heap in the sky and damsels must begin the process of finding new transportation.
There's been a lot of talk in the news recently about the degree of torture administered to terrorist suspects in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. I guess everyone has their own definition of torture - water boarding, electric shock treatment, having a mammogram, taking kids for routine dental exams. For me the very thought of car shopping makes me want to tell everything I know to anyone who'll listen.
When I was married to Texas Jimmy car buying was a sport. Invariably he'd get a tripped out convertible model of some snazzy European sports car and I'd get a (I kid you not) a Nash rambler with no heater. Oh sure, we lived in Florida so the heater was not a real necessity, unless you are trying to take two little kids to the dentist in the middle of winter.
Let's face it. I'm a girl. My genetic make up is all about making a home comfortable - nesting. I believe that God gave the "y" chromosome to hunter/gatherers for the sole purpose of seeing to it that the little woman back in the cave had safe, reliable, affordable transportation - be it a woolly mammoth or a Chevrolet.
As the time neared for my love and I to start looking for a new to me I honestly tried to act like a grown up. I wanted to feel good about my ability to not only search for a new car but get the best bang for my buck. Yet, when I saw Sweetie, notebook and Buyer's Guide in hand, I knew I was out of my league and in for a long day. I tried playing the glad game - "the good thing about going car shopping is that we have a hall pass for the whole day" - but the dark clouds that were sitting right over the Cassat Avenue Chevrolet dealership took away some of my glad. Note: It is not easy or fun to car shop during torrential downpours.
Before the rain started we did make contact with a salesman whom my sister promised "would not laugh at me if I started to cry" and "would do me right". We also spotted a few cars that were too big, too small and maybe just right. My idea of letting my checkbook do the talking was nixed by Car Shopping Sweetie. We still had Fords, Hyundais, Kias, Dodges, Suburus and a plethora of whatevers on the Car Max to see. And test drives for comparison. In other words we were just getting started. So was the rain.
I won't bore you with all the details. Suffice it to say we played the game for several days. I whined and pouted. My Sweetie was all business. He denies that there is an actual game being played, says it's more like a coded style of communication. If you know the right code, or look, or secret handshake your salesman knows immediately if you are a serious buyer or just a looker. Honestly, I never knew which I was! But Sweetie did and I just tagged along splashing in the puddles!
Finally, we narrowed our search down to a silver Chevrolet HHR Basically there was no choice. All signs were pointing to one particular automobile. We took it for a test drive, left it in the lot so we could think about it some more, worked out the financing with the Bank of Dad, then sealed the deal.
Except for one little, teeny, tiny problem. There was an error in the account number given to the bank transferring the funds from one financial institution to another. Thus said funds were sent to wherever lost money is sent until, after in-depth research it is found. But before one can do that one has to go to one's personal bank two days in a row, speak to several representatives from both banks on the phone, have a general hissy fit, consider patricide, break out in a hot-flash leaving one dripping in sweat which frightens the 23-year old branch manager whose high heals could be considered lethal weapons. By the grace of God and the good nature of "Tonya" (Dad's new best friend) at the end of the second day the saga of the missing money was almost over. Based on a promise and a prayer I signed my name 15 times on almost as many pieces of paper and the car became mine (assuming, of course, that nothing else goes wrong with the $$$ transfer. If that happens, I suspect we'll be on the Repo man's list and I'll be headed for Chattahoochie)
Here is a photograph of Howard, the salesman, and me. As you can tell I'm so busy telling Howard to look at the camera I was completely unaware of how unbrushed my hair looks. We had been waiting for about three hours for the paperwork to be computed and finalized. I was a little punchy. Sweetie was hungry and Howard mainly wanted to get the car of the lot so he'd get his commission. He's a really nice guy, but I sure hope I don't have to see him again anytime soon.
It's been quite some time since I've driven a new car. According to the guy who went around checking the tires for bumpy spots, and calculated the number of miles per gallon we got as we drove around the block, aka Sweetie (anyone who can multiply in their head and drive a car at the same time is a man among men) there are 2 owner manuals; the whole shebang and a Cliff-notes version. There is also a book for maintenance records, how to program/use the OnStar features and something called XM radio. It is presumed by the car salesman, my dad and my significant other that I am going to read these books. I think the chances of that are about as good as Sweetie winning the Lottery tonight. I'll learn the basics - how to program radio stations, how to load and eject a CD and how to adjust the direction of the air conditioning (or heater - yes, it has a heater - I checked!)
Typing this blog post has taken almost as long as finding a new car. I'll finish up by sharing these pictures taken from the sun roof of my fancy schmancy new automobile. Note: I was stopped at a red light when these photos were taken. While driving, both hands firmly grasped the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 position. Sweetie, who was driving behind me said I was going a little fast, but it felt like Granny was driving to me! Granny who has a secret desire for speed.
Wishing for you a sunny day and a roadster that works,