Not even 12 hours into being a new-used-car mama, and I’m still settling in. I’ve had Val for a long time. She was a fantastic car — at 165,000 miles, she still had some good life left in her. There was nothing fancy about her. Manual windows, manual locks. Like my gym and my man: not too fancy, not too plain.
Val and I had some good times together and made some fantastic memories. She was the first “real” car I bought after entering the grown-up world; we’ve been together since 2004. She was with me when I fell in love for the first time and watched me cry oceans of tears. She was with me when I was trying so desperately hard to gain control of my life. And she was with me when I finally found my groove and drove back and forth to races and trails across the state. Most recently, she drove me to my first date with Mr. B, where I knew that he and I would be hand-in-hand for the rest of our lives.
Alas, she was fading as my life was moving ahead. And the time came, very sadly and very suddenly, for us to say our forever-goodbyes.
And so I handed over the keys.
The car-shopping experience was not exactly what I would have planned — though it certainly worked out for the best. Val decided she was ready for greener pastures just in time for me to have only two viable shopping days. And no one in sight to help.
Or so I thought.
Mr. B’s schedule enabled him to come up and help me car shop. Probably not how he planned on spending his Wednesday and Thursday. But, let me tell you, the second I saw him pull up to my apartment, my nerves melted and the stress I was holding in my neck almost disappeared.
I had been a nervous wreck about trying to find a quality car quickly. I hate shopping, in general, and having to do it for such a big item had me
near in tears.
Besides putting me at ease — showing me I wouldn’t have to do this alone — Mr. B came bearing an issue of “Consumer Reports,” courtesy Mom and Dad B that ended up being a huge savior in trying to figure out which cars deserved our time.
I had spent much of Tuesday night looking at the websites of various dealerships around town, so I already had some ideas of what I wanted to look at — as well as some Wednesday-evening appointments. And, I had a pretty good idea what I could afford.
My criteria for this car?
- Good on gas
- Good in the snow
- Affordable to insure
- Extra reliable and safe
- Future-family and car-seat friendly
But even with my preparing and checklist, I still felt ill prepared to face the big day.
Car salesmen aren’t known for being reputable, kind and respectful. And they have a bad reputation when it comes to equal treatment of women. Oh, and the fact that I know next to nothing about cars didn’t help matters.
Plus, I hate the idea of having to dicker and haggle and play the stupid games required to get the best price. I firmly believe that things should be priced what they’re worth and you should pay that. Honestly, I would be much better equipped to haggle over the price of a gallon of milk than the price of a car. At least I know about milk. Cars? I know nothing.
Our first appointment left me feeling quite pleasantly surprised. The staff was welcoming and full of smiles. And they kindly answered all of my questions.
They had pulled up the car I had inquired about originally. Mr. B and I took a look around it and got in for the test drive. Barely half a mile down the road and we turned around. I knew that car wasn’t for me. It was loud, shook and felt cheaply made. Oh, yeah, and the passenger-side window didn’t work.
We handed in the keys and I asked about one of the other cars I had seen online. It was a little higher than I thought I wanted to pay, but I needed to see it. And as soon as I sat down in the driver’s seat, I told Mr. B “I want this car.”
As we drove it, Mr. B returned the sentiment.
I would have made an offer right then and there. But Mr. B was insistent we keep our next appointment to just try the other cars. So, I sadly handed back the keys, and we headed down the road to the next dealership, me fretting the entire time that the car would be sold before we could get back to it.
I was immediately turned off by the coldness I felt when we entered the office space. And our sales guy? Had a sleezy/snobby feeling to him. He hopped in and rode along on the test drive — after telling us that he knows next to nothing about the car we were driving. Um. How are you supposed to sell me something you don’t even know?
The car was decent. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the one we’d driven at the other place. And when the sales guy sat across from us and bluntly said “Do you want it or not?” — well that was all I needed to hear to know it wouldn’t be my car.
As Mr. B and I drove away, I called the other dealership and told them I’d be back in the morning to pick up the car and take to my mechanic to check out. Mr. B said I was a little too enthusiastic. But I don’t care. I shouldn’t have to hide my feelings about something. If I like it, I like it. And I do not play games.
My mind was made up.
And once my mechanic signed off, telling me it was a “good little car,” it just cemented it. That car would be mine.
We just had to settle on a price. The thought of trying to negotiate made me want to throw up. I hate it. Always have. Always will.
But I did it. And Mr. B told me I did an OK job. I mean, we walked out of there with a car for less than my upper-limit price. I’d call it a success. Plus, I didn’t even throw up!
If Mr. B had his choice, he would have preferred to drive a lot more cars before deciding on one. But that’s not my style. My belief is that something fits and feels right and you love it, there’s no reason to go looking for something better. It can be a waste of time, energy and resources. Sometimes too many choices is simply, well, too many.
It’s how I operate. It happened with my university and my first job. It recently happened with my wedding dress. Heck, it only took me one date with Mr. B to know that he was the one.
This girl knows what she likes and she goes after it.
So, as I sit here, avoiding packing my suitcase, I’m excited for all the new memories Mr. B and I get to make with Boo. She’ll take us on a lot of road trips — the first will be to see my family up north. She’ll drive us away from our wedding and most likely carry our first child home from the hospital.
Yes, I’ll miss Val and her simple ways. But Boo with her fancy grown-up power windows and locks is a welcome edition to this family.