Thursday, August 1, 2019

I Get a New Car

            Getting a new car was a big deal for me. Let’s examine that sentence:

            “Getting?”  I didn’t exactly “get” the car because I was leasing it – a new experience for me. When I rent a car at the airport, I don’t think of it as “getting a new car.” Several people had explained to me the economics involved – how it really makes sense to lease rather than buy. I can’t recall the details of the argument, but I do know that I drove away with my bank accounts fully intact, the two checkbooks I’d carried to the dealership unopened.

            “New?”  It was a 2019 Toyota Highlander, and even though there were 2020s on the lot, I still count it as new. It had about 100 miles on it, which did make it less than new, and it did not have that toxic “new car smell,” but it was significantly newer than my 2013, so “new” it is. Or was – until I drove it away. The main reason I know it counts as “new” is that feeling of anxiety about getting a ding or scratch – something I’d long gotten over with my 111,230-mile old car. (By the way, did any of you notice when my odometer reached 111,111? Probably not. Sometimes these significant moments pass by without sufficient attention’s being paid . . ..)

            “Car?”  Of course, it’s a car, assuming SUV fits into that general category. But my experience when Awring, our salesperson, started explaining stuff made me realize that what I had purchasedleased was really a computer with wheels attached. We spent maybe 20 minutes getting my phone hooked up and then downloading an “Entune” app that would allow me to find the price of gas at nearby stations, among other things. The computer system on the car makes it difficult to ram into slow cars when I’m driving in cruise control, and it has beepers that go off when I wander to the edges of my lane on the highway – a feature I will have to turn off because it beeps so often and so annoyingly. I did, with Awring’s help, get the GPS to work with “Go Home” programmed in, and I can look on the screen and see the weather that’s taking place just beyond the windows of my car. One of my goals for tomorrow, when I plan to begin reading the 4 manuals filling the glove (Who puts gloves in there?) compartment, is to figure out how to turn on the radio and set up my favorite stations. I’m giving myself a week to figure it out. Awring phoned to say I should call her if I have any questions. I suspect she knows what she is inviting, but she did it anyway.

            “Was?”  Was. A few days ago.

            “Big deal?”  I’m not sure how big the deal was. I know how it works when purchasing a car – the negotiation, the “I’ll have to check with my manager,” etc. People smarter than me can figure out how much the car cost the dealer, figure in a reasonably small profit margin, check out the value of the trade-in, etc. Not me. I let Kim do the negotiating, as I tend to say, “Yeah, that sounds OK – where do I sign?” Kim’s much tougher. In unfamiliar leasing territory, she simply said, “Let’s just skip all the negotiating crap. Go get your best deal for us. Plus, we want all-weather floor mats.” I tried to read Kim’s reaction to the offer Awring brought back, but Kim told me nothing, so I said, “Yeah, that sounds OK – where do I sign?” The good news – I’ll never figure out if I got a good deal or not. I don’t know how to compare, and I wouldn’t do it now if I did know how.

            “For me?”  For several days I’d been thinking about getting a new car. I knew my old car was due for an oil change, and getting a new car would save me about $50, so the time was right. I knew I wanted a Toyota Highlander – not because it was necessarily better than other cars, but because my last three cars had been Highlanders, and I figured a fourth would mean I would not have to learn much about how to operate it (wrong – see above). Still, I do not see myself as a Car Guy, and my old one was running fine. It was, and is, out of character for me to indulge in a new car. When I told my neighbor, Sandy, that I got a new car, she was surprised and delighted, adding, “You deserve it!” Deserve? Me? I don’t think in terms of what I deserve – that’s dangerous territory involving introspection and self-evaluation. I’m more comfortable with a non-judgmental what-I-can-get-by-with approach. Kim knows this is true when she examines my wardrobe.

            At this point I suppose I should include a picture of me with my new car. Nah. We’d already signed something at the dealership to decline having a Facebook photo of us + car. Really, it’s no big deal.

Comment from Phil Allen:
Suppose you don't have a mobile phone?  Can you still lease a car?  Or buy one?  Will it run if you don't connect your phone?  Partly to avoid learning the answers, I still drive my 2000 Toyota Camry.  It hasn't quite reached 111,111 miles, but when it does I will stop and wonder what to do next.  It doesn't seem worth repairing the blower or air conditioner.  I can still open windows in summer.  The blower works if it isn't set for low or medium.  On high, it's noisy, but I can still hear the radio.  

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