Saturday, February 25, 2017

Buying a Car in America

I should admit up front that I do not like the car buying experience. I don't even like the expression "car buying experience" since it sounds like so much touchy-feely claptrap. Purchasing a car is not an "experience" anymore than cleaning out the gutters is an "experience" Its just something that has to be done once every ten years or so, that's all. Surviving Auschwitz would be an experience, climbing Everest, an experience. Buying an automobile is a chore. A confusing, disorienting chore.

Consequently, I don't do it very often. I normally drive cars until they no longer are able to cooperate. Sometimes they begin emitting grayish, blueish clouds in their wake, other times they start leaving oily pools of industrial discharge on the garage floor every night. Other times, they like, literally blow up,(my poor, dearly missed Sebring convertible...God rest her soul). This time, it's Pam's valiant Chrysler Pacifica which is moaning out dire warnings of its impending doom. She has been a wonderful car, but is not long for this world. So, for about a month now, we have been laying the groundwork for purchasing a replacement vehicle. In this we have been greatly aided and baffled by the internet. Since last we bought a car, my Cadillac CTS seven years ago, the buzzword in the car game has become...no hassle pricing, a concept which exchanges the hassle over haggling back and forth with somebody's manager about the price with the far greater hassle of literally everything else!

To start with, what in the name of Henry Ford has happened to car names?? My first four cars had the following names:  Beetle, Beetle, Scirocco, Cherokee. Now, everywhere you look it's initials and numbers. You want a Cadillac you say? Which one? There's the CTS, DTS, XLR, STS, SRX, ESV and how could anyone forget the classic EXT? Interested in a Lexus, you say? Well, I can certainly understand why with such a variety of models and styles to choose from...the LS, GS, ES, IS, SC, LX, GX, and RX. Even when you find a car which has an actual name like the Sante Fe, or the Enclave, there's the dizzying array of modifiers that go with the name...touring, sport, premier, limited. What ever happened to naming cars after animals or indeginous peoples? I can remember when the most popular cars were named...Mustang, Maverick, Charger, Cherokee. But, I digress.

In our case, this is Pam's car we're talking about so this will be her decision. Anyone who knows my wife knows that making decisions isn't her greatest talent. In fact, except for the notable exception of deciding to marry me, she's horrible at it. She has never made a snap decision in her life. There is no such thing as an impulse purchase in Pam's world. She's a spreadsheet sort of gal. I avoid even writing the word "spreadsheet." After a month or so of extensive, exhaustive Internet study, she has narrowed it down to vehicles that use regular gasoline. (Just kidding!!) Actually, she has it narrowed down to the Chrysler SRX, the Buick Enclave, the Sante Fe Sport, and something made by Mazda. The sticking point has been the third row seat question. Her present car has one and it comes in quite handy on the half a dozen times each year when we use it. Also, having a larger interior helps whenever we travel to Maine with Lucy for a month.

So, this morning comes phase two of the process. Yes, we will venture out into the bizarro car dealership world to test drive some candidates.

If anybody says to me, "What have I got to do to get you into this car today?" I will battle mightily the urge to punch him/her in the mouth. Maybe I will counter with, "Well, for starters you can promise me to never, ever say that to me again, Sparky" My combative, no nonsense car buying style causes Pam no end of angst. She is so sweet and kind and in her heart of heart...desires to be nice to everyone, while I, uh, strive to, er, uh...ok, I can be a bit rude when dealing with car salesmen. I open my mouth and some borderline hostile sentence comes out, and she dies a little bit inside. I know this, but am basically powerless to stop it. I view the salesman in front of me as a hostile power intent on swindling me. I realize that this is entirely unfair and unreasonable. We all gotta make a living and all...

So, I will do my best to be as nice as humanly possible this morning. I will be patient, even kind. I will endeavor to make the car buying experience as comfortable as possible for my wife.

Wait a minute...Endeavor...now that's a car name if ever I've heard one!