Shiny New Thing
I was supposed to hear from the car dealership on Friday about when I could expect my new car to be delivered. I heard nothing, so I figured I’d have to get up and be ready. I knew the local rental agency opened at 9:00 a.m., and I certainly hoped I wouldn’t be spending another day waiting around. Waiting around, especially the kind of waiting around that preempts everything and anything else one might want to do, is not the kind of thing I do well.
I got up. Got ready. At 9:17 a.m., just as I was sitting down trying to decide whether I should call the dealership or not, the phone rang. It was my salesperson, who had personally driven the car to me from a larger city about 200 miles away. He wondered where I was. I told him I was waiting to hear when we were to meet. Turns out, he’d left instructions for someone in his organization to call me and tell me to meet at 9:00, but those instructions were either not followed or something glitched with my phone. I didn’t get the memo. I was up all night thinking about and anticipating this event (really, a waste of good sleep time, I know, but it really was like the night before Christmas for me). Anyway, I rushed down to the rental office.
Have you ever wanted something for so long and so badly that you couldn’t stand it, then you finally get it and it is kind of an anticlimactic experience? Have you ever wanted something so much and then when you finally got it, you were disappointed or discovered that the thing you wanted was a rip-off?
None of these things were true about my new car.
Here’s a bit of backstory, before I go on. I have been in two marriages in my life and in those marriages there were very clearly defined and very traditional male/female roles. (Yes, this is part of the reason why both those marriages failed.) It just so happened, that the traditional male/female role determinations worked to benefit the male in my relationships only. I could go on about this, but suffice it to say that even though I was also a breadwinner in the family (and in both cases the more lucrative one), I was the one still responsible for all the traditional female responsibilities around the home. So, though the responsibility of earning family income was shared and often mostly earned by me, the duties at home were not shared. I say that only to say this: in both those marriages it was the guy who dealt with the cars.
Now, in the first marriage, that was fine. The Good Ex was and is very good at dealing with cars and money. He would never have purchased the car I just purchased, no matter how good a deal it was, because he would just buy a $3,000 car, pay cash, and be fine with that. This is also why he has more money in the bank at any given time than I do, even though he earns half what I earn. Yes, when it comes to cars and money, the Good Ex is a smart cookie…or smarter than I am. This is why I still go to him on occasion for advice and perspective.
In my second marriage, however, The Evil Ex was not only not good with money, he was hard on vehicles. He was hard on everything. We drove vehicles that were paid for, but they were unsafe, they were ugly, they were a constant trouble and they were, all of them, gas hogs. Looking back, it seems crazy (and it was) that I ever wasted a single minute in a life with that man, but I did. About two years into the marriage, it was clear to me that The Evil Ex fancied himself a “god unto himself” and would take no direction from anyone, least of all anyone female. It was also becoming apparent, that if I was going to get a safe vehicle I would have to do it myself. So, in 2005, I purchased my first vehicle. I went to the car lot, went through the routine, signed the papers and walked away with a new-to-me vehicle that served me well for seven years, until my daughter totaled it last fall.
Before this time, I never understood the buzz about cars. I mean, really? What’s the big deal? I laughed at those friends of mine who polished their chrome and cleaned up the tires. Now I knew. It was about taking care of an investment. It was about making the investment last and perform. It was about pride, and self-respect, and being grateful you were able to have the thing. With that vehicle in 2005, I didn’t exactly polish the wheels and tires religiously, but I began to understand the fun that cars can be. After all, there are so many of them out there and they are fun to drive. They do more for us than just get us from place to place.
This car, my 2012 Nissan Maxima, is the third car I’ve purchased by myself, on my own credit, in my life. I don’t travel around the world. I’ve never even been to Disneyland. I don’t eat out a lot and I certainly don’t date or have a significant other relationship in my life. I love to cycle, I like to blog, I love my kids, I have a great job, but I don’t do or spend a whole lot ever, just on me. I’ve spent many of the last twenty years saying no to things I wanted and needed so others could benefit. I view this car as a gift to me from me. So, you can see how, as I drove down to the rental car agency, my heart was pounding. Would this be a good gift or a disappointment?
I needn’t have worried. The car was better in life than it appeared on the internet. I took it for a brief test drive, but before I was even halfway down the block, I knew the car was a fit. It felt good, it drove quietly, it was easy and comfortable to handle. Thirty minutes after arriving at the rental agency, as I signed the last of the many pages of the loan agreement, my salesperson looks up at me, smiles, and announces, “You just bought yourself a car!” And not just any car, thought.
One hour after leaving my home, I’d purchased the nicest vehicle I have ever had. This thing is loaded. It’s not the top of the trim packages for a Maxima, but it’s still got a load of features. It floats over the pavement, it corners well, it is responsive, it is quiet. (I now have an inkling why luxury vehicles are important to some people. It’s a very different experience.) I’m not in a “luxury” vehicle, but I am paying less each month for much more car. I cannot believe the incredible strangeness of this thing we call life. It beats any amusement park ride, that’s for sure. I love the present I bought/am buying for me. It’s all I hoped it would be, and even more.