Friday, September 16, 2011

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

Got me a new car this week. My old Civic was closing in on 240,000 miles and had a number of small problems that I had adjusted to over the years. The air conditioner made a noise like a lawn mower plowing through a field of rocks if you put it on the two settings that (sort of) worked. It had started to leak oil. If I didn't put water in it every week, it would come close to overheating when idling for over a minute or two. This weird indoor snow was coming off the sun-destroyed visor.

Still, we had a past, and it took me much longer than I should have to let it go. Mostly because I am cheap, lazy, afraid of change and have an intense hatred of people trying to sell me things.

I got the car back in 1998 as a signing bonus for getting married and finishing grad school. It was the first new car I have ever owned, and probably ever will own. It survived 6 months of daily commuting back and forth from Gainesville to Jacksonville, a whole bunch of long trips, a failed theft attempt, a couple of moves, a hurricane evacuation, and dozens of neighborhood cats sleeping and peeing on it. All the dings and problems with it were all mine. This new car, who knows what the pervert who owned it before me was doing in there?

I actually found maps from my honeymoon in the glove compartment, which was pretty sad, both as a reminder that I have a failed marriage to my name, and as a reminder that I haven't been bothered to clean out the glove compartment since owning the car.

The new car is pretty nice, another Civic I can run into the ground (I'm not giving out too many details. I don't want you internet freaks tracking me down). It's very strange to be driving something so quiet; something where I'm not constantly looking out for the next smell or sound or light telling me something's gone wrong.

The buying experience went much better than I feared since the salesman was brand-new and hadn't been fully indoctrinated into salesman mode. I was able to knock close to 2 grand off the price, which is funny, since I'm a worse negotiator than President Obama. Usually halfway through I realize I'm playing a game, the salesperson is playing a game, we both know it, and it just seems sort of stupid, so tell me what to pay and let me leave. But I was able to channel my dad and it worked. My dad could get deals on like, stereos and stuff just by asking, "So how much is this really?" Whenever I tried that, I'd just get embarrassed and write a check for an extra 50 bucks just to apologize for taking up the salesperson's time and subjecting him to my pathetic bargaining attempts.

I also liked when the salesman asked me to pick a radio station and I turned it to NPR, then switched over to Jones College Radio. I could feel him getting all flummoxed next to me but not wanting to say anything that would possibly blow the sale.

So I'm pretty happy, I suppose, and this new car will slowly take on a character. This new car also means I can't use my unreliable transportation as an excuse not to get out of Jacksonville any more, but luckily cheapness, laziness and comfort of being stuck in a rut will work just fine.

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