I knew we needed one; the old Highlander we bought to ferry up and down to Kildonan six years ago had long passed 200,000 miles, and gotten dinged and bumped by icy trees shedding branches, and unyielding telephone poles placed in the middle of parking lots. It was bought during the lean six years, so any of the insurance money just went to paying doctor bills and necessary stuff–yes, Geico, sorry for that, but one does what one can.
The used car salesman, Big Will, said, “How much you want for that car?”
Dennis said, “$2,500.” I kept silent. (Take it I prayed silently, just take it away…) He handed the keys over to the one who would drive it to see that True Blue bucked, cut out, wheezed like a rat was living behind her steering wheel, had a jab in the middle of the driver’s side mirror like someone on Broadway Street ran the gantlet and lanced it, and was nearly empty (folks who own this car don’t top off after 1/4 tank, tsk, tsk), and needed an oil change. Oh yeah, and had so many warning lights that never went out that it wouldn’t pass inspection again without bribing someone.
We went to the dealer not to buy but to look. The Highlander was dirty and filled with stuff on the way to Salvation Army. We wanted to check out the 2001 Rav that we could get for $157/month, but all of us fell for the pretty blue 2011 with only 23,500 miles and one owner. We got into the back and there was LEG ROOM!!!!.
Having owned a brand new 1997 Rav, which we drove to over 200,000 miles, then gave to my sister Barbara for a buck to make it legal. We knew those Ravs go on and on. And we wanted a better car for the New Orleans streets with their Katrina-holes. (Oh, the pot holes in NOLA!!!!) A Rav on the highway was high enough to believe our 16 year old would be safer than in some tinny little thing, yet small enough to maneuver the “why did you even think of parking there” obstacle course that New Orleans also provides on a daily basis. Why do people park opposite other cars that are already too far into the street?? All those lopped off mirrors!!!!
“The Highlander is only worth $1000,” Bill said. Big Will knew we liked the baby blue though; still I needed to get home to a pot roast on the stove. He said you’re getting cold feet. No, no, I protested, I could only imagine the smoke detector scaring the dog near to death. He said, “If we make it so you only have to pay $250/mo, will you go with the newer car? ” It was late. They’d only moved 2 cars that day. Below quota.
“Yup.” (I have been saying yup for a while now. Text it a lot. Yup. I’m in the Yup of my advanced years. Nothing much to say but Yup.)
“So we’ll give you $2,000. for the Highlander, so you can make the payment.” Okay. Off to the finance office, across the lot. (Oh, that pot roast, everyone joked, will be so tender!) Truth is the woman in finance came up with $270/mo and we just shook our heads: Nope. (The opposite of yup)
“Big Will said he’d get it to $250/mo., that’s the deal-maker.” BW gets called in–comes to a $268 or so. “Nope.” Will you settle for $255? “Yup.”
It all fell to the Highlander. They paid us $2500. for that car all bumped and bruised. We couldn’t have pulled it off on craigslist. We would have disclaimed so much David Letterman could have made it into a parody. But it’s gone. We didn’t mean to buy a car for so much, but we did, and now, to drive it? To drive this car is like butter. Like reluctantly buying a wallet the other day at DSW because my old wallet’s zipper was busted for the past month and a half. I didn’t want to spend the bucks, but I did, and I got it home and put all my cards and stuff into my new wallet and I was so HAPPY! If salespeople can get to that–to motivate one to the point of happiness, then every sale would be so so easy.
And for Lily? She took driver’s ed in a little 4 cylinder boxy little SCION that when you took your foot off the gas, decelerated. Teaching her in the 6 cylinder Highlander I’d say, “Slow it down,” and she’d say “I am.” and I’d say, “You’re not, put the brake on.” And she would be annoyed. When I pointed out that the new Rav decelerated once you stopped pushing the pedal, she said “Yeah, that’s like the car I learned on,” and I knew that somehow, a major milestone had been passed between a bossy mother teacher and a learner’s permit holder daughter–since neither of us was wrong. And I breathed easier; yes, this would be the car for her. (More than a yup.)
I have to hand it to my husband though, home for only two days from toiling in the vineyard with Tyler Perry in Atlanta, and he was the one to initiate getting the car. We needed that mutual relief, and something major once again shared between us, that came once we were driving it home the next day. We haven’t had a car payment in about 14 years, but it was going to be much better than the constant concern over repair or not, and the added gas consumption that took all our loose change. He was the one to really get it going and set in motion the good feeling you can have when you get yourself out of a ratty-looking outer wrap, no doubt seen and noted by many. Thank you, Dennis, for being the best, hardest working, most fabulous husband and father, and helping us get Baby Blue. It’s a much need change for our family. And it’s good to have you home.