A week ago, I took the big plunge. I bought a car. I have put this project off for way too long, but I just didn’t quite know how to go about it. Over the years, I discovered that the one thing I simply could not abide was car shopping. The Mister, on the other hand, could spend weeks pouring over ads, cruising through car lots, and doing the jousting that takes place between seller and buyer on the car deal.
Very early on I exercised my right to not care about car shopping. My requirements changed slightly during the decades of our marriage, but mostly I wanted a reliable vehicle with heat and air, a good sound system, and front-wheel drive. I also wanted to spend the money in our county. I didn’t care about anything else. I still don’t. I told The Mister to shop until he couldn’t shop anymore, but I was not going to offer an opinion until he had it narrowed down to two or three vehicles and then I would look at them … probably … maybe … if I wasn’t busy.
I spent a good number of years being pretty proud of not having to stand around car dealerships or fussy little old ladies’ garages looking at something that may or may not become the family ride. Often I even won on the shop at home clause and our money stayed in Marion County. However, when things changed and I was on my own in the car shopping world, I found I had no experience. Ugh. How could I have been so stupid? I should have paid attention to at least some of it.
At first, I concentrated on newspaper ads. Oddly enough, there were many new brands about which I knew nothing — I had never heard of them. Time had passed when I wasn’t paying attention. I looked on the Internet and studied websites. I talked to some local guys about where to go in the area for an “honest deal.” I didn’t care about a great deal, I just didn’t want all the salesmen sitting around the coffee pot in some dealership for the next 20 years saying, “Oh yeah, and remember that one really dumb old chick from Peabody?”
And so my choice was finally to do nothing. I had that wonderful old Buick Park Avenue Ultra with those four or five things I required in a car. She had more than 100Kmiles, but so do a lot of cars. Why change? It had air bags and front wheel drive. It was a big roomy beast and so what if the right rear passenger door didn’t open? Did I ever have back seat passengers? No. We called her the “whoop-dee” and she had heated leather seats, a terrific sound system, and in winter, enough horse power to shoot me right out of my driveway, through the three-foot pile of snow deposited by the snowplow, and into the street. Who could ask for more?
However, she eventually reached the point of diminishing returns. While I never cared if the back seat passenger door opened, I did care about that stuff dripping out of the engine area onto my driveway. They gave me the bad news — cracked radiator. And the fix was pricey — again.
So my son-in-law, Old What’s His Name, took me car shopping. We stayed in the county and we picked out three cars to try and actually agreed on the one I eventually selected. It has all those things that I feel are important and some others which might one day become important — or not. I have already found that although I thought a white car attracted dirt, a black one is no better. We live and learn.
Most of all I am relieved that the deal is done. I am trying to be cool about the whole business of owning a new upscale vehicle that is identified by an insignia, some letters, a number, and an X. There are some parts I don’t understand yet, and I am afraid I might inadvertently lock myself out of this vehicle or set off the alarm system while trying to check out the CD player. I will let you know if things go well. If I never mention this hot new ride again, you will know I am scouring the area car lots in search of a 1999 Buick Park Avenue Ultra!
— SUSAN MARSHALL