My skin-flint-ed-ness (totally a word) is so legendary, that back over the holidays when we sprang for a new television set, everyone I told thought it was a joke (including my own children). Because I don’t spend money like that. Ever.
So when Otto’s mom gave us her car three years ago, I (predictably) said “Oh! Free car! YAY!” and gave up any thoughts of replacing the car I’d sold before I moved down here. Because free is my very favorite price, and my favorite kind of car is the kind with four wheels and a steering mechanism and a working engine.
Now, I’m not a car person. Otto IS a car person, and so the car he drives is important to him as an essential experience. Or something. I don’t really understand. Me, the car is a little bigger than I would like. But it’s no big deal. Handling? Power? Huh? I don’t know. One time one of my grocery bags fell over in the ginormous trunk and I had to CRAWL INSIDE to retrieve the bananas. That was kind of annoying. But whatever.
Otto, though, was worried about me. Or maybe he was worried about the car.
“You hate that car,” he would say to me, periodically. “We can replace it, you know.”
“I don’t HATE it. I just… don’t love it. It’s fine. I don’t drive a lot. I don’t need a different car. We can’t spend the money.”
And he would go into a whole monologue about how driving should be enjoyable, and I work hard and if I want a new car I should get a new car, and I would just put my fingers in my ears and hum a little ditty about how having money in the bank helps to curb my mental illness number, or at least keep it at a manageable level.
It went on like that for a while.
And then one day we went somewhere together and Otto was driving my car and it kind of went *shimmyTHUNK* and Otto said, “Did you feel that?” I affirmed that I had. “Has it done that before?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said, busy checking my email on my phone. “It does that all the time, why?”
Otto made a garbled noise. I’m not sure what he was trying to say. But later he told me that cars aren’t supposed to do that. I mean, really, I’m supposed to know that?
According to Otto, the transmission is slipping on my car. Also according to Otto: It’s probably time to start thinking about replacing it, while it still has some trade-in value.
What I heard when he said this was: “Your car could explode at any moment. Might be time to figure out what you’d like to own, instead.”
So the kids went off with their dad this weekend and we started cruising local dealer sites, looking for the perfect car for me. The problem is, the perfect car for me is one that’s free, so we were somewhat hobbled from the start. Once I was willing to entertain paying actual money, well, then I had to PICK SOMETHING. Which is hard when you don’t really care.
“I would like it to be SILVER,” I said, helpfully.
My poor husband.
Eventually we were able to narrow it down to “small 4-door,” and started looking at Civics and other similar cars. Do you have any idea how much those things cost, even used? It’s like it’s a major purchase, or something.
Then Otto came across a Hyundai Sonata on someone’s site and I was treated to a long treatise on how Hyundais are actually great cars, much better than when they first came out, and the build quality and this and that and… I don’t know; I may have dozed off.
“Fine,” I said. “Let’s go look at it.”
We drove to the lot in question and were told to “go around the side to find it” while the salesguy went and got the key. Except… the car wasn’t there, and when he returned his proposed alternate was a Kia Optima, so we said no thanks and left. And then as we drove to the next place, Otto told me all about how Kias and Hyundais are actually made in the same place and… well, you know. I had another nice nap.
At the next lot we spotted a Sonata, but it was priced way too high, so when we said it was out of our budget, that salesguy suggested a Honda Accord. And then a Toyota Yaris.
Understand, it was about 90 degrees out. I was pretty sure I could feel my brains leaking out my ears. Otto shepherded me back to the car and we headed onward to the Toyota dealership, where they had several used Civics.
This was the only dealership where we weren’t attacked immediately upon exiting the car. In fact, we walked around for a bit, took note of a few possible cars, and then had to head inside and ask for some help. The greeter went and retrieved an adorable young man with dimples and eyelashes fifteen feet long who came outside with us and reminded me very much of one of Otto’s students, or maybe even of Monkey. There was no hard sell or doubletalk, just a nice guy who, it turned out, used to teach preschool.
It took a considerable amount of effort not to pinch his cheeks.
We asked a few questions and then asked to take a used (silver!) Corolla for a drive. We drove around with him and chatted, then switch seats so Otto could also drive it and headed back to the dealership. “How do you like it, Otto?” inquired Eyelashes.
“It’s about what I expected,” Otto answered. “You know, it’s got the smaller engine, and the suspension is—” I zoned out, here, as they continued talking specs, until Eyelashes piped up again.
“And how about you, Mir? Did you like it?”
“It has four wheels and a steering wheel and it goes,” I answered. He looked confused, so I added, “And it’s silver!” You know, just to clarify.
We went back to the dealership and Otto and I went off to have a little talk. The talk basically went like this: Hey, this car is newer and has fewer miles. It’s not fancy but it’s fine and it’ll get better gas mileage. It’s priced at this number but maybe we could get them down to this number. Okay, let’s do it.
So we sat down with Eyelashes and basically said “We don’t care how you do the numbers, but if you get our cost down to this number here after the trade-in, we’ll do it.” Eyelashes nodded and assured us it was no problem. Then he left.
This was amusing to me, as our number required them to basically give us twice the high end of the trade-in value on the other car. I waited for the “Sorry, guys, I really tried, but my manager says…” schtick upon his return. We sat there and chatted as he took our car for a quick drive, pulled the CarFax on it, and talked to the manager.
And then Eyelashes came back and sat down and showed us a number and said “How about that?”
And that number was a few hundred bucks UNDER what we’d offered to pay.
So, uh, we bought a car. (“It’s possible they’re really desperate to move stock right now,” Otto reminded me, as I sat there in shock.)
It’s silver, did I mention that? It has wheels and a steering wheel and an engine and… ummm… air conditioning. That’s about it, for features. “This is the base, base model,” Otto reminded me. “It’s a complete stripper.”
“Perfect!” I said. “I shall name her Trixie. That’s a good stripper name, right?”
Otto made a funny noise. I’m not sure why.
Otto is picking Trixie up for me this afternoon. I can’t say I’m going to miss the boat I drove for the last few years, but I will miss the remote keyless entry. Apparently Trixie has to be opened with a key, like, IN THE LOCK. Have you ever heard of anything so crazy?
Moral of the story: It’s a good time to buy a Toyota, apparently. Also, my husband is a bad influence. Or a good influence. I’m not sure which.