Thursday, September 15, 2016

We Buy a New Car

            One of the real pleasures of life is discovering that one of your alleged vices is actually good for you. It is now a medical fact that red wine and dark chocolate are actually health-enhancing – almost medicines! (So far my insurance company has responded to my pinot noir claim.) At my last physical exam my doctor, who will be my doctor for the rest of my life, told me that research shows that people who drink a bit of alcohol live longer than people who don’t. Yes!!! And I’ve been collecting information on the health benefits of coffee for years, though I admit that those benefits, like the ones for red wine, tend to disappear when you overdose on the medicine. But recently I learned how my coffee addiction in fact saved me Big Money.
            As we are anticipating the approaching winter – and we hope many more of them – in Michigan, Kim and I have started our preparations. We are shopping for boots and looking for the box where we packed our mittens and long underwear. Kim found an ad for a battery-operated chainsaw so she won’t have to watch me hurt myself attempting to start the gas powered kind that real lumberjacks use. In case we end up in northern Michigan, I’ve been checking Amazon for snowshoes and dog teams, and I’m contemplating the dubious pleasures ice fishing. But most importantly, we have bought a car with all wheel drive. You know – for the ice and snow that linger in our driveway because I can’t start the snow blower.

            Kim and I like our old 2013 Toyota Highlander, but it lacks all-wheel drive – this happens when you buy your SUV in Florida. We have been saving up, and we started looking at new Highlanders. (I was reluctant to change models because I don’t want to learn new ways to use all the controls.) I was hopeful that the GPS system in the new model would have a friendlier voice than our Gertrude’s rather bossy and sarcastic tone (“Turn around where possible, you idiot!” and “Route recalculation – again!”). But alas, we could not escape that 2013 voice by buying a new Highlander because the 2016s do not have sufficient cupholders.

            What do I mean by “sufficient”? Well, the 2016s have two of them between the front seats, but where will I put our water bottles? (Water, you know, is almost as good for you as red wine.) In the door next to the birding books, the small box of kleenex, and the maps? (Remember maps? Our granddaughter had never seen one. Maps are useful when Gertrude is being unreasonable or tying to steer us into fast traffic on the Interstate.) Of course not! In the little bin between the front seats? But that’s where we keep our first aid kit, spare corkscrew, Altoids, toothpicks, handy but never opened Swiss Army Knife style toolkit, spare napkins swiped from Starbucks, garage door opener for our unsold Florida house, iPhone recharger, key for something we can’t remember, ball point pens, a receipt too faded to read, and a couple of recipes. No way to put our water bottles there!

            No, we realized we would have to buy a 2013 Highlander. We found one nearby, drove down to see it, and ended up with a car with 14,000 more miles on it and one grade below our “Limited” (poor word choice) edition Highlander, for only $2,000. Kim did the negotiating after vowing she would not. Instead, she suggested what I should say to the dealer, and like a good ventriloquist dummy, I did so.

            Paying $2,000 for an inferior (except for the all-wheel drive) car sounds like a bad deal.  On the other hand, my coffee addiction saved me $20,000 over the cost of a new car. I’ll drink to that!

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