Thalia speaks for me. Er, not about cabin fever, necessarily, but about cars in wintertime. Car problems – particularly carlessness – stink a lot, especially when the weather turns snowy and the roads icy. I have spent the past week or two ridiculously reliant on my parents, my brothers (for rides, for a jump, for advice on where to rent cars), car rental places, random passersby with jumper cables…not AAA, though, curiously enough.
Clearly I need to buy a new vehicle, or a newer one. But it was never going to be a fun task, and the winter storms make it worse.
If you’re me, you suffer a series of shocks when it dawns on you that you’ve more or less ignored the industry that built your hometown. I am the worst Detroiter: I’ve spent the past 26 years ignoring every dealership I pass, overlooking billboards advertising the same, attempting to block out car jingles. In an area full of vehicular votaries, I am the heathen who has never paid homage at a single temple. Now, on my seeking them out, they have effectively popped up in droves overnight. A fish doesn’t know it’s in water; bit of a surprise when it finds out.
Sadly that means that it’s easy to bludgeon one’s brains with a multitude of options. This is how it goes: you rule out possibilities arbitrarily, more or less, so as to arrive at a decision at some point in the next three years. Even then, the information (or opinions) available about your potential choices can drown you in a wave of data.
You make a number of decisions and find a list of prospects. You drive to a dealership which has one or more of said prospects. You curse on learning that oh wait, it was actually sold last night.
You call the next place to be sure the prospective vehicle there is in fact available, because heaven help us all if you can’t learn easy lessons from recent mistakes.
Annnnnd then you curse to learn that, despite your call to double-check, they actually sold that car this morning and didn’t check thoroughly enough to tell you so before you drove there. You get stuck listening to some dude natter on about extended warranties and coverage, all of which are useless without having a car to cover. Even he has to admit it: he can’t say how much such warranties cost (not even a ballpark!) without plugging a make and model into his algorithm.
All in all, it’s a veritable roller coaster of emotions! The mild anxiety on entering the dealership; the frustration on finding that of course you went to the “New” lot when the “Used” lot is just far enough away to be annoying; the excitement of examining the car itself; the letdown of having a headrest jamming into one’s neck; the steeper letdown of loving the car and then hearing the final price once the sales tax, vehicle registration fee, electronic vehicle registration fee, plate transfer fee, vehicle spot check fee, cleaning fee, dealership jelly donuts fee, financing fee, etc. are added on; the moment of letting another salesman down easy; the exhaustion of going to yet another dealership.
It is not, in the end, a very satisfactory roller coaster; on the bright side, it is the only one I can think of that improves from eating beforehand. Sadly, I keep forgetting that I really ought to provision myself with tea or coffee and some kind of snacks, such that a rage borne of low blood sugar descends, rendering me unfit for polite conversation and even less fit for wise purchasing decisions.
Which, I suppose, is part of the reason I haven’t bought anything new yet.
But the snow doesn’t help.