This blog is not about the Oscars. Although, the Oscars are seconds away from starting as I start this blog. So, you know, I will probably contradict my first sentence immediately. I am glad Billy Crystal is back.
This is my first blog in many days. I knew I haven’t blogged in a long time because I was blogging in complete sentences as I walked down the street in anticipation of this post. It was a really funny blog post (in my head) and I now don’t remember any of it. Put ginko on the shopping list.
Well that was an exciting story. Aren’t you glad I’m back with such riveting prose? I’ve missed you, too!
Let’s catch up! The last time I wrote a “real” blog was probably last Tuesday? Right? The blog about my desk. After that was a SMASH game show, and then I had a crummy audition followed immediately by….wait for it….food poisoning. I mean, seriously? Let’s just move right off that subject and talk about what I did this weekend (even as I was still feeling a little ick).
I went shopping for a car. Yes. In New York City. We drive, too.
I understand for most people, shopping for a car is not a 24/7 obsession, but I have to tell you, I love it. I could shop for cars for a living, or real estate, I equally love both. I suppose I should explain why we decided a new car was a necessity–although if you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you might recognize that “overheating–again” has become a regular text message from my phone to Rob’s. I can not print the text I get back from Rob because the editor of My Own Space will not allow such profanity in this PG-13 blog. Nutshell. We’ve had the car in the shop three times, paid for it to be fixed three times, and still the text: “Overheating–again”. The straw that broke this camel’s back came on Thursday when I had three kids in the car (2 of mine and Charlotte’s bestie from Vermont, Chrissy) and the car started to overheat on the George Washington Bridge for no reason. No stopped traffic, 59 degree weather, no reason. This is the picture text I sent Rob from Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Please hold. Best supporting actress.
I love it when people are so shocked they won that people have to actually pull them out of their seat and help them to the microphone. Enjoyable.
Back to the heat. I just checked my text message history in the hopes that Rob wrote something I could print, but, alas, it would get bleeped. Use your imagination. It may or may not have rhymed with “Smother trucker”.
The next text I sent Rob was from Ikea, saying I was nauseous and we all know how my night went from there. Not a good day. I spent the next two days sick in bed yet trolling the Internet for cars (multi-tasking).
Within 48 hours I was on a car lot with my friend Lisa with Charlotte and Beatrix in tow.
This would probably be a good time to talk about what I am like when negotiating for a car. I consider it a competitive sport. I am famous for it. In fact–as I think about it–I have proof of my car negotiating fame. Years ago I did a show (The Phantom of the Opera) with a guy named Eric. This was in 1997. He is married to a woman named Robin, and I haven’t really seen the two of them since probably…1997. Yet, a few months ago, I got a message from his wife saying “I remember a long time ago you talked about how to negotiate for a car, and I’ve always remembered it. We’re buying a car and wondering if you’d help.”
That’s like asking if I’d like to help eat a huge chocolate cake.
I believe that no good negotiation can happen unless the sales person has to go to the manager and there is a lot of hand wringing. I want to hear the word, “Impossible”. I want to walk away. I want to be chased to the door by a salesman saying, “Wait a minute, wait a minute”. Once I even said I was leaving and then went to the bathroom at the dealership and called my Dad to kill time while they re-thought it. My Dad, by the way, taught me all of this terrible behavior, and egged me on saying, “Honey, when you walk out that door, they’ll give you the deal you want.” As a former car salesman he is an authority, and, by the way, he was right. I walked out and they’d dropped the price $1000 and tossed in new car mats. Instant rush. Like your first hit of ______. (Fill in the blank with your drug or food of choice.)
My most dramatic negotiation happened in 1994 on the very same day I had three impacted wisdom teeth extracted. I went to a dealer and made a cash deal for a Volvo 240 DL sedan, a manual, that no one wanted because it was a manual (rich people only want a stick shift in a sports car. No one wants a stick shift in a sedan, unless you are me and wanting a deal). I’d taken off two days to have my teeth pulled in Cincinnati while on tour with Les Miserables, and had to rejoin the tour the next day in Milwaukee. I wanted a car, and I had saved $7,500. The car was on the lot for $11,500. That meant I had to have the car, tax and title (out the door) for the $7,500 I had in my hand. While using an icepack on my face and trying to talk, I convinced the sales man that I was HELPING him remove a car no one would ever buy as my father stood by and watched. I got my car, a car Rob and I drove until it hit 200,000 miles.
I think, in my Dad’s eyes, I became a man that day.
But it isn’t just about negotiating, I also genuinely like looking at cars.
It’s important to have a good idea of what you want.
Woody Allen just won and the Academy accepted on his behalf, just for an update.
My wish list is a strange one–OH WAIT! This is what I was writing in my head as I walked! I remember!
1) The car should not be very much longer than the car I am currently driving. I am talking overall length. This is not a concern for normal people, this is a Manhattan living concern. Allow me to explain. I parallel park my car–on average–3 times a day. The bigger the car, the harder it is to find a spot. I already have my eye adjusted to the smallest possible spot my car can fit in–therefore–the car can’t be much longer than the car I currently have.
2) It should be a hatchback and the hatchback has to open UP and not to the SIDE because I can’t open a back door to get my stroller out if I am 2 inches away from the car behind me. Which I’ve done in my short car. (See #1) This eliminates a car that was a previous front runner, the Toyota Rav 4.
3) Charlotte wants a backseat has to be bigger than the teeny tiny one we currently have which barely holds Beatrix’s BarcaLounger car seat and Charlotte’s colt-length legs. She’s also requested an iPod hook up.
4) Rob wants good gas mileage (as I write this, the news is on and they are saying that gas is going to $5.00 a gallon in New York City. Neat.)
5) I want leather seats because I am 100% sick of smelly cloth seats that have had milk spilled on them.
6) The Artist just won best picture.
7) I’d like a moon roof because it is cool to look up at skyscrapers as you drive along in traffic.
8) Most important? Low mileage. Our current car has 160,000 miles on it. Therefore, low miles in comparison is–well–anything, but I’m thinking less than 20,000 if possible.
I don’t care about color. I don’t care about navigation systems. I don’t care about cup holders. I just want to win.
Our car history is 1 Honda, 2 Volvos, 4 Subarus. All used. We liked all the cars, but clearly have a thing for Subarus.
My friend Lisa had recently purchased a Subaru and had a dealer she liked, so I started there. Within minutes he told me he had a 2010 Subaru Forester with 2,700 miles on it that had just come in. It was on the lot for a very reasonable price. I have to say, I was intrigued. I mean———–2,700 miles?????? Who drives 2,700 miles in 2 years? It has no bells or whistles at all, but it is a good, sensible car and a massive step up from what we have. I made an appointment for 4pm.
But, of course, I can’t just buy the first car I found.
I started at a nearby Volvo/Mazda dealership. I left the kids in the car, grabbed my paperwork, walked in and told the receptionist I was there to buy a car and I needed a salesman. 5 minutes passed. 10 minutes. The receptionist apologizes and says it is the end of the month and they are swamped. I looked at every car on the lot. I checked on the kids. I checked with the receptionist. I contemplate the Mazda brand. I contemplate whether or not me waiting for so long to buy a car is a sign the recession is over. After 20 minutes, I write a note and leave it on the receptionist’s desk. This is what it said. “My name is Sharon Wheatley. My number is _________. I am buying a car today. I have _______ to spend. Please call with your best offer.” And I left.
The score so far? Dealer 1, Sharon 0.
I’m at 1,500 words, the Oscars are over, I have to teach 3 classes tomorrow, so I am ending here for tonight. Coming in the next installment, someone ends up in the emergency room.
(To read the next post in this series, go here)