Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Long overdue, but mostly just long.

Oh dear. Where to begin?

My car was dying. Leaking oil in two places (one halfway up the engine), leaking coolant, it had an ever-expanding crack across the top of the windshield, and it was sixteen years old. I'd been talking about getting a new one soon-ish anyway, so we decided it wasn't worth it to put the necessary funds into it, and instead, I would start looking for a new car. Well, I decided that, and my parents were surprisingly supportive. I thought they would try to talk me out of it, say it was silly, tell me I couldn't afford it. But they were all for it.

So I started researching. I got recommendations on cars, makes and models, I searched dealer websites and consumer reports and manufacturers websites. (Did you know that in AP style, the proper way to write it is Web sites? Now you do.) I decided I like hatchbacks better than anything else. Probably because of this little girl:

Ahh, my first car, my first love. She was a 1987 Honda Civic Hatchback. Two shades of blue. The turn signal played a tinny version of "Love Me Tender." And oh, did I ever love her tender. She fit all my friends, she had lots of storage, she was easily recognizable in parking lots. She didn't have a radio, so I bought a mini boombox, like this:

and we bungie-corded it into the dash, in the empty space where the radio should have been. One day, when my dad was changing her oil, he found an extra-long philips-head screwdriver nestled in the front bumper, long since lost and forgotten. She could make a u-turn on any street. In short, she was a treasure. Pure sassy delightfulness.

She died on me one April day as I was driving up 19th in Duluth. Any of you who may be familiar with Duluth know what a steep hill 19th is (for those of you unfamiliar, it's one of the main drags up and down the big hill towards campus). I was driving up the hill, trying to go to class, and she just up and died. Nothing. Not even a stutter or a putter, just dead. I managed to steer her over to the side, kind of. I had a moment of panic, and then I put her in neutral and backed her down the hill onto a side street, and called D, who had Triple A. That was the last time I ever drove her.

I got a new car in June. A 1993 Toyota Camry. I would post a picture, but I'm really just not sure I have any. It was a car, and it was a decent car. But after the love I felt for my first car, what could possibly compare? The camry had no sass, no personality, no turn signal music. But it treated me pretty well, and it drove me everywhere I needed to go. It didn't have air conditioning, which we decided was going to be a problem when I was scheduled to move to Arizona, so while I was down there, my parents had the AC system overhauled for me. Bliss. I didn't move to AZ after all, but I sure did have a nice, temperature-controlled car.

But then, it started leaking oil. Everywhere. I could be parked at Target for an hour, and there would be a little oil spot in the parking space when I drove away. We took it in and found out how much it would cost to repair, and even our trusty mechanic said it probably wasn't worth it. He told me that, as long as I was good at checking and adding oil regularly, it would last me a few more months while we looked for a new car.

So, as I said, I researched. I made a spread sheet. I debated. I search carsoup. I knew I wanted to take my dad test-driving with me, which I knew was going to be difficult. My dad is the kind of guy who will outright ignore any question you ask him until he feels like answering it. That could mean twenty seconds, or two weeks. I kept asking, and then hinting, and then almost begging. "Hey dad, I have ALL of next week off. Wouldn't it be fun if you took a day off and we went test-driving? Yeah, that'd be awesome." He'd just sort of chuckle and turn back to the TV. We both had a Saturday off one day, but he didn't even mention the possibility of car shopping until I had already made plans to visit Duluth for the weekend. Talk about infuriating.

Finally, one day he tells me, "I took a half-day on Friday." VICTORY! My mom had left town on Wednesday, and so knew nothing of our upcoming adventure. Knowing we'd actually be shopping soon, I intensified my carsoup searches, and found a few specific cars that I wanted to go look at. A Honda Fit, a VW Golf, and a couple of Priuses. I knew a Prius was likely out of my range, but oh, how I loved them.

Friday came, and the Golf was no longer on carsoup, so we decided to skip the dealership it was at. I took my lovely father to lunch, and away we went. The first car I got in was a Fit, and I didn't like it. I felt like I didn't fit in it, strangely enough. Also, the windows were uber tinted, which threw me off a lot, and turned me off of the car even though I knew it was removable. It just didn't feel like the car for me.

Then I got into a Prius. I loved it. It was smooth, and magical, and even though the pedals would take some getting used to, it just felt right. I didn't like the particular one I was in, however, so we bid farewell to our salesman and headed to an actual Toyota dealership.

We got into a Prius. It had a back-up camera, an audio jack for my ipod, heated side mirrors, cruise control, a smart key system (which means you never have to get your keys out, they just have to be in close proximity to the car and you can get in and start it, like magic), and it was blue. Not two shades of blue, but a beautiful, rich shade of dark blue.

I drove it around some side streets and took it on the highway. We got back to the lot and just kept wandering around the car, looking in the trunk, sitting in the back, sitting in the front. The salesman left the car for a second and I told my dad, "I want this car." When the salesman came back into the car, I asked him, "So, what kind of a deal can I get for my trade-in?" He looked a little surprised, probably not expecting me to a buy a car at all that day, much less the first one he showed me. "You want to see what we can do for you for this car?" "Yes."

By 7.30 that night, I had my old car emptied, my temporary license on my new car, and was home with the keys. When my mom came home a few days later, completely ignorant, the first thing she said was, "What did you do?" Luckily, she said it with a smile.

I had to leave on a 4-day for work on Saturday morning, and it was the longest trip ever. All I wanted to do was get back home to my new car.

My friends call it my spaceship.

Home, in my driveway, with SNOW on it (I was very offended about that):

Me and my new baby:

Blasted wind.

I smile every time I see it, I think it's adorable, and I love that it's both a hatchback and a normal-ish-looking car. I just feel so happy and lucky to have a car that I love again.

1 comment:

  1. Aww Cindy, you're adorable, adorkable even! I want a new car! But first I have to get a new job.

    So yeah, fake cut FTW!! They are lovely and awesome, but its not like I ever expected anyone to follow it.

    Ahh, yes. I read the whole series very quickly as well once i got my hands on each individual book. I was reading them as they came out, so I had to wait in between! I discovered Twilight all by myself, sitting on a back table in B&N, before all the hoopla started. Yay hoopla! Apparently there is a Twilight convention of sorts this June in Minneapolis. I think I might have to go...if I'm still in this state in June. (Here's hoping I wont be, because I'll have gotten a real job.)