Peter and I managed to visit no less than four (OK, three and-a-half) car dealerships today without getting into one major argument.
Peter's Subaru was totalled last month, with Peter, Zack and me in it, by an idiot who barreled out of a gas station in Mystic Connecticut without, apparently, looking to the left. Why the hell would you want to look to your left when pulling out of a gas station onto a busy road? Looking to your left is overrated, isn't it?? It's much more fun to just shoot out blind and plow into the passenger side of the next car that happens innocently by!! It breaks up the day and gives you a great story for the dinner table that night!!!
OK, OK, sorry. That happened, and it's over. No one was hurt, which was a good thing. Peter got a nice settlement from the insurance company, which was a good thing. We got a rental car free for a month, which was a good thing. But all good things must come to an end, and our rental month did just that, so it was time this weekend to begin looking for a new one.
Actually, a couple of weeks ago was the time to begin looking, and I guess you say Peter did, in a matter of speaking, when his friend Jimmy attended a car auction for him. "Oh no, Peter!" I said, "Aren't those car auctions kind of risky? You don't know where those cars have come from, and if you win one and it's a hunk of junk, you're stuck."
"Oh, Jimmy know the guy who runs the auction..." ...and Jimmy knows this and Jimmy knows that and whatever. In any case, Jimmy placed a bid on one car and it didn't win, so that was that and just as well, as far as I'm concerned.
Yesterday, Friday, was the first day without the rental car and Peter had to use public transportation. That was enough to get him all hopped up on Saturday morning to visit car dealerships. "Are you still sleeping??" he asked this morning. "Yes, well, sort of," I said. "If you lay there with your eyes closed," Peter said, "How can I know if you're listening to what I'm saying?"
Time to get up, evidently.
Peter wanted to go look at cars. I'm not sure how I figured into the whole thing, but I had no particular plans except to sleep in anyway, so up I got and out we went into the wilds of Westchester.
First stop, Pleasantville, to the Volkwagen dealer. Or, I should say, to Prestige Imports. Busy little place, and Pleasantville was a busy little town that early afternoon with all the young parents accomanying all their oh-so-cute little ones to the Halloween celebration in the middle of town. We had to be careful not to run over any three-foot-high witches or pirates or princesses or whatever they were all dressed like. I just took a second to reflect on the fact that I so don't miss doing that stuff anymore.
Prestige Imports was hopping. A salesman said he'd be right with us. Right after he put a sixty-something lady and her seventy-something husband in a Passat for a test drive. The lady plunked her giant pocketbook on the hood of the Passat to fish out her driver's license. The salesman cringed, though just a little. He took her license inside and the couple climbed in the car and off they went. "Oh hey," the salesman said as he came back outside, "they just took off?"
"Oh...yup, I just watched them go!" I said as I chomped on the pasta salad I'd just purchased from the 7-11 across the street. I pointed my plastic fork in the direction they had just gone.
The salesman showed us around a little bit and Peter settled on the GTI as the one he wanted to test drive. We had to wait for the old couple to get back with the plate, but they came back in short order and huffed off unpleasantly. We took the GTI for a spin up the Taconic. Turbo cars rattle me. Why do you have to go that fast that quickly and why does it have to make that unnerving race-car engine sound? We're not at Limerock, we're in Westchester, for Pete's Sake.
But it was a nice car. Peter enjoyed how it handled. It was "tight," though the clutch was a little "soft..."
The seats heated up. Paeter must have inadvertently turned them on when he was fiddling with all the knobs while barreling down the parkway, a practice I have never endorsed. While a sixty-something degree day is not really the time you want to have a hot ass, it's nice to know that option is there for you when you do.
There wasn't much to say once we brought it back. There wasn't much bargaining leverage, apparently. While Peter liked the car, he wasn't ready to make a commitment, and the salesman had other customers waiting, so we thanked him and off we went to the Hyundai dealer in While Plains.
A little place, it was, tucked away behind The Westchester Mall. "Hi there, how many cars can I sell you today, ha ha!" said the well groomed, well-doused-in-cologne salesman, Thomas, who hustled on out to greet us. "Ha ha, yes, you do have some great deals here." Peter said immediately, which didn't seem to me the thing you're supposed to say to salesman, at least not right off the bat. Aren't you supposed to toe a hard price line when you talking to salesmen? Well the prices were good, so I guess there was just no pretending they weren't.
Peter knew he was interested in the Elantra Touring car, but went down the line with Thomas, talking all that male car-talk. There was a little Mini-Cooper all the way at the end. A little blue one with white racing stripes on the hood (or "bonnet," I suppose,) and it even had the Union Jack printed on the door handles.
"Oh, a Mini-Cooper!" I exclaimed. "Oh yes!" Thomas chimed in. "Just came in yesterday. Nice, isn't it??" We all agreed it was nice and we all agreed that you see them everywhere now, and we all agreed it wasn't the car for us. "I've been told I'm too big for a Mini-Cooper." I informed Thomas, who wisely refrained from making any comment. "But they sure are cute," I said, and he agreed.
"Oops," I whispered to Peter, "I said the 'C-word.'" Paul had taken to rolling his eyes every time I referred to a car as "cute," even after I pointed out to him that the appearance of a car was as important, if not more so, to a man than it was to a woman. As a matter of fact, he had taken to snorting a little bemused snort every time I made any sort of comment or asked any sort of question about one of the cars, even if it was relatively intelligent. But we had been doing so well up to that point, I decided not to pursue it.
We took the Elantra out for a spin, this time with Thomas along for the ride. He offered me the front seat, but I opted for the back. Peter liked it well enough as we drove up 287 an exit or two, then around the residential roads of White Plains, before we headed back and the conversation segued from the realm of cars to the equally male-dominated realm of home electronics. Oh get me out of here. I tossed off one last reminder to Peter from the back seat that Asian cars were much cheaper to maintain than German cars, which Thomas clearly appreciated, and elaborated on. When we got back to the lot, Thomas opened the hood of the car, and said to me, "Oh you can look under here, too."
"I got news for ya, Thomas," I said, "Peter ain't gonna know any more than I do when he looks under here." Car salesmen always assume that the man knows oodles more about cars than the woman, and while oftentimes that might be the case, there are plenty of instances where the man and the woman are equally dumb.
Thomas gave Peter a "bottom-line" price for his reference, once Peter told him he wasn't going to make his decision today and was going to do a little more looking around. Another handshake and another business card for the wallet.
Southward down to Yonkers and Honda. The Central Avenue dealership is split into two areas and two separate buildings, flanking either side of a medical building on the east side of the road. We didn't know that and bumbled into the used car section. Oops, I mean the "pre-owned" section. They actually had some nice cars there and a two-year old "Fit," which was the Honda model Peter was interested in. I had never even heard of a Fit until that morning when he told me about it. "Well, that might be a good car for you," I said, "you do like having fits!"
Once the natty salesman informed us that the new car dealership was up the avenue a few yards, he wouldn't let us leave until he showed us both his little blue (and decidedly cute...whoops!) Fit. "You don't see these coming in much, people are hanging on to them, and they're just starting to go off-lease, but folks don't want to let them go and..." blah, blah, blah...."Look at the back seats!" The bottoms of the back seats go up, which is actually the first time I've ever seen that, and I emitted a little "ooh." The leg room and space all around on the inside was surprisingly adequate. Not luxurious, mind you, but roomy, all things considered. "Let me give you a bottom-line price before you go!" They don't let you go around here without giving you a bottom-line price. Even the used-Honda guy is competing against the new-Honda guy up the street.
"Oh wait," Peter said, peering back into the car, "it doesn't have a stick?" Peter likes a stick.
"No, no," said the salesman, "but it has a paddle-shift. It's good you know? "Cause you can sort of be doing some shifting, but it's automatic, so it's good in case anyone else in the family wants to drive it too." He gestured to me.
"Excuse me!" I said. "I happen to know how to drive a stick! As a matter of fact, I learned to drive on a pick-up truck, which is a much harder stick to use than the stick on some little piddly car!"
"Why do you always have to do that?" Peter asked as we left. I can't help it. Why do car guys always have to assume the woman is an incompetent idiot? I've been driving a stick since before that pisher was born.
The "new-Honda" guy up the street, Anthony, was a little desultory. He took us outside, then he disappeared for a few minutes. Then he came back out, but didn't have the right key. We couldn't test drive on a Saturday, "Just store policy," he shrugged. Well, OK. He invited Peter back the next day or Monday to take a drive. "If you are running late, just text me, and I will wait here for you!" He ran off to his desk to get his card.
"Does he know you don't know how to text?" I asked Peter.
"Ha ha ha!" laughed Anthony from across the dealership floor. "That was funny!"
Anthony came back with his business card, and we had a very pleasant conversation about how he taught his mother-in-law to text-message and how while I've texted for a while, Everett taught me how to use the auto-spell function. Ha ha ha.
"Can we go?" said Peter.
So, we went home, not really much closer to owning a car than we were when we left. Peter sometimes likes to consider these things carefully and methodically. So methodically, in fact, that eventually you want to shoot yourself in the head. On the other hand, he bought the last car, the Subaru, online. Sight unseen. It's a conundrum.
I'd still like a Cooper.