Happy Monday and welcome to the conclusion of “And the Winner is….” which has surprisingly become one of my favorite stories in My Own Space history, and based on the number of you reading it, it seems you like it, too.
David Cleveland never called me, so we are all getting this breaking news together:
I bought a car.
And yes, I just told you the end of the story which might appear to be anti-climactic, but I have so much faith in the details of the deal that I am willing to risk it. Everyone put on your driving goggles and we’ll do a Speed Racer catch up of the past three posts so I can get to the good stuff. It’s been a while since we’ve visited this story, so I’ll do a play-by-play in fast forward.
We needed a car, I like to buy cars, I enjoy making a phenomenal deal on a car even if it includes dental surgery. I found a car (A 2010 Subaru Forester) that had 2,700 miles on it because of a nursing home owner who may or may not have been caught in a flood, BUT the car wouldn’t start on the dealer’s lot even after an extended jump. I decided it was a brilliant negotiation tactic to buy the dead car for a ludicrously low price citing that I was “nervous” that the car might be a lemon and indeed, I did get a fantastic price $2000 off the sticker price and even a cheap deal to add leather seats. I put down a deposit with a caveat that the whole deal was contingent on me driving the car once it was fixed.
I left feeling victorious and sensible.
I got nervous about the dead/nursing home/possible flood car (are you all thinking, well yeah, duh?). Was I just pursuing the best deal and being blind to the obvious signs? I started to day dream about a Honda CRV I’d driven that had more miles on it than the Subaru, and was $2000 more expensive, but was so fun to drive. I rushed Rob to a Honda dealership on a Sunday to drive a CRV. He loved it, too, and not just because it started. We went home and wrung our hands over what to do. The dead car was the great deal….but it was……dead. Even if they put in a new battery, how could we know it was really fixed? Were we worrying too much? Was it as simple as a battery that needed to be replaced and then we had the deal of the century? We both could agree on one thing for sure, the Subaru with the dead battery was the amount of money we wanted to spend. I had a signed invoice with the deal and the amount they’d give me for the trade in ($1600….which isn’t bad if you consider that our car had 160,000 miles on it, was 10 years old, frequently overheated, regularly had to get a jump to start and leaked a substantial amount of coolant) so suddenly, the dead Subaru price became the price to match or beat. Period.
We were supposed to test drive and officially purchase the Subaru from Fast-talking-Jimmy at 3pm on Tuesday, which gave me 48 hours to meet or beat the deal. One thing in my favor–it was the end of the month (always buy a car at the end of the month–you will get the best deals because the dealerships have to hit a quota of sold cars for the month. Kind of like a cops and traffic tickets.) so I knew I had a shot.
On Saturday night and and as much of Sunday morning as I could spare, I researched. I read every review of “small”
and “affordable” SUV I could find. I did wander off in the direction of a Mazda 5 for a while, which is a mini-mini van that is wildly popular in Europe because of it’s small size and good gas mileage. Rob and I were very hot-to-trot about this car because of the high ratings and the fact that American dealers are trying to move them off the lot because no good red blooded American wants a mini-van that is this small. Turns out we could buy one of these new (and the dealer would add leather) for the same price as the nursing home Subaru. New. As in, 2012 and 0 miles. In fact, the guy was so desperate to sell me this car he matched the Subaru price, but it included tax and title–so it was the out the door price–coming in at about $2000 less than a Subaru. And, this whole deal happened over the phone and he said I could “pick my color”.
I mean…..this is a guy who wanted to make a sale. But did I want a mini van, even if it was a mini-mini van? What would I do with those extra seats? Become a part time taxi driver and pick up fares as I drove around town? Not a bad idea, actually.
Guess what happened? I went down to a Mazda dealer on 11th Avenue in Manhattan (A question for the class: Who can name the LAST place anyone should buy a car? Yes? You in the back? Say it louder for the whole class to hear, “MANHATTAN”. Exactly.) Who in their right mind buys a car in MANHATTAN? I almost did–but, in fact–wait for it…………………………………………………………………I got to the dealer and we found the car to take it out and….the car wouldn’t start. Totally dead. Click, click, click.
I can’t make this shit up.
So the guy is like, “hey, it’s no biggie, the cars die all the time, it just needs a new battery and it will be good as new” but suddenly the only thing left on my MUST HAVE list was that the car had to START. Period. I wasn’t buying a car that was dead. Besides, as Rob and his Dad pointed out, it seemed a little bonkers to park a brand new car on New York City streets no matter what kind of deal we were getting.
Bye Bye cute euro mini Mazda.
There was an irresponsible Honda CRV that was seducing me. It was too expensive, listed at $3,000 more than the Subaru. It was in Manhasset, Long Island, which was too far away just because it was in Long Island and that is too far away. So what was seducing me? It had 9,000 miles on it and it was fully loaded. I’m talking, not only leather and a moon roof, but even a navigation system and a rear camera so we could parallel park with ease. It was beautiful. It was my dream car. It was irresponsible. I called out there and got a sales guy by the name of Kenny on the phone. He confirmed two things.
1) The car was still on the lot
2) Internet prices are firm. Non-negotiable.
And just in case I was hard of hearing, he repeated it about 2,000 times. I got it, I got it. (Although…….really Kenny…..everything is negotiable.) I decided to pass on the car. It was too expensive.
But then, as it happens, that became the car I wanted. I kept bringing it up to Rob. I talked about it in the class I was teaching. It was like an unrequited love. I was offended that it was so expensive, but I wanted all the luxury. The stupid nursing home Subaru didn’t even have a moonroof.
As Monday rolled around, I made a deal with my babysitter Ally that she would pick up both kids from school and then meet me in the car down on 45th street where I teach. From there I would take the car and not come home until I had a new one. I wasn’t done teaching until 4pm, so I didn’t have a lot of time, and my phone was blowing up with phone calls from dealers who wanted me to come to their show room. My net stretched a 60 mile radius, all the way from upper Westchester County, to Rockland County, to New Jersey to Long Island. I had to make tracks if I wanted to come home with a car, and believe me, my children weren’t going to let me in the door if I didn’t buy a car by the end of the day.
I came out of the school to the kids and Ally, and I was in a pretty foul mood. I was overwhelmed by all of it, and–to be honest–a little over it that I was doing all this work and not getting done the actual work I needed to be doing. It was as if all time had stopped for 72 hours and I was in a weird car time warp. If you asked me how my day was, I’d say, “You know all wheel drive is important when you need it, but for the rest of the year it is not only unnecessary but eats up gasoline.” I think everyone wanted the insanity to end. The only way to get out was to get further in, so I re-committed, got in the car and started it.
It didn’t start.
My car–the car I was trading in within hours was dead on 45th street between 9th and 10th avenues.
Seriously. I can’t make this shit up.
And I’m at 1,629 words, so I’m cliff hanging it AGAIN. This story grows like an animal sponge in water.