Remember a few weeks ago when I had to rent a car to get to Pensacola because my own car was scaring the crap out of me? Remember how I called my mom the night before the drive, freaking out a little (ok, a lot) about the thought of having to drive to Pensacola in a car that needed wheel bearings and tie rods? Honestly, I didn’t expect that conversation to go down the following road. Really. Who expects someone to buy them a freaking car?
“Now, what are you trying to DO??”
“Well, I was trying to buy a car from you. Instead, I’m trying to leave now.”
It’s hard to get taken seriously when you dress like you’re 15, everyone’s a head taller than you, and you flat out tell them that your mom’s paying for the car. I kept wanting to point out that I am not a trust fund baby, I have never had a professional manicure, I mow my own lawn and have never even wanted a Louis Vuitton purse. One guy almost actually patted me on the head, catching himself roughly 6 inches before making contact and whipping his arm back into place at his side.
I ended up at a certain dealership, finally being taken seriously by someone. We test drove some things, but the guy didn’t have a black Civic handy. He was eager to sell me a white one, so he got this statement:
“I’ve picked my dealership. I’ve picked my salesman. Now, we just have to find the right car. Let’s give it a while and see if a similar black one shows up. If not, the white one will do nicely. I’m scoring a free car. I’m not going to nit pick over color.”
On Wednesday, he sent me an email telling me of the recent arrival of a black Civic 2-door. It was getting stuff done to it to make it certified, and would be ready for a visit from mom and me on Saturday. When the universe owes you one, sometimes it really pays up. I had decided in advance to name the car Kismet. He could be Turkish.
Mom and I had joked about showing up at the dealership with a briefcase full of money. “Yes, but I don’t have any handcuffs to attach the briefcase to my wrist.” “Oh, we can use mine. Wait. Forget you heard that.”
We had Salesman get the paperwork. Then he told us there was a problem. The people who had traded in said black 2-door may have a problem with their financing and the black 2-door may not be in play. “But we have a 2010 Civic, if you’d like to see that.”
This, I suppose was my cue to go all Veruca Salt and start begging my mom for the new car instead of the used one. No. I do not require a goose that lays gold eggs for Easter. What the salesman got was this:
“$________ is not $_______. It’s $2500 out of the price range. Let us know how it works out with the 2-door and we might be back.”
We weren’t doing the “walking out of the dealership” dance. We were actually walking out. At least, I was. As we were leaving, the manager stopped us. Surely, there was some price in between that would make the 2010 model worth it? As he was talking, mom motioned to the series of numbered sheets of paper taped to the front glass window. They numbered 1 to 34.
“Is that how many cars you’ve sold this month?”
“How many are you aiming for?”
This would be the point where I whispered, “oh God,” and walked over to get a Coke. Did I mention that dad sold used cars in the 80s? And grandpa owned a dealership? You see, I’ve met my mom. This is sport for her. I could practically see that British guy from Big Cat Diary sitting in his Land Rover, whispering about the female lion stalking a Thompson’s gazelle. A female lion wearing festive gold sandals and dangly turquoise earrings.
Five hours later, we were walking out of there with a new car for not much more than one from 2008 with 37,000 miles on it. I’m still trying to process this. I feel like I’m driving around in something I didn’t really earn, but you know. I don’t feel guilty enough to refuse a free car. I’m not insane.
“Your car life needed a reboot. You were putting so much into that Cruiser you were about to be upside down on it.”
Just like that, with some bizarre break-it-down common sense, mom fished my butt out of the fire one more time, in yet another way that I can never possibly repay. Am I scared to death of scratching this thing? Yes. Do I swear to stop filling the floor of my car with junk mail? Yes. Do I want to do a little dance of joy every time I see that thing sitting in my driveway? Yes. When I went to have the insurance switched and they asked me for the mileage, I answered with “fifty-two.” I may have blushed a little.