Saturday, March 3, 2012
Adventures In Car Buying for a Teenager
My son, Darth Spoilboy, reached yet another milestone in the road of life last Wednesday and if I am very lucky the complications that have ensued since then will not kill me. First a little bit of a back-story on how things got to the point they did last night.
While I honestly feel my son takes after me in many of my easygoing personality traits, when it comes to something he truly wants, he can become quite driven and obstinate like his attorney mother. Such was the case with his desire to have what every teenage boy wants after he gets his driver’s license, his own car. If I remember correctly, we had not even made it out the DMV building when the refrain, “Dad, when can you and mom buy me a car” started.
Since then his persistence has only increased to the point there have been times I have been forced to stick each of my index fingers into my ears and start singing Margaritaville in an attempt to seek some relief. This tactic provides quite an effective block to his whining, unless I happen to me in the middle of Walmart buying groceries. In such a situation people tend to stare, grab their small children, and give me a wide berth.
Anyone even faintly familiar with my dislike of shopping in general would be correct in assuming I have been sorely tempted to use such a tactic in the crowded grocery suburbanite stores that surround me. Far too often, I have run the aisles of the local grocery stores looking for some obscure item only to finally locate it but have two middle-aged WASP chicks blocking my access while intensely discussing some horrible aspect of their comfortable American lives. Fortunately, I possess the barest minimum in commonsense that prevents me from ever using such an approach. But, I digress.
Now understand my family and I do enjoy a comfortable American middleclass lifestyle but we are not awash in money. Making matters worse like other teenage boys my son’s tastes in cars has leaned towards unreasonable sports cars and curiously enough certain brands of SUV’s. His desire for a sports car is logical and to give my son credit he understands when my wife and I explained to him how a snowball has a better chance spending a day in hell than he does of owning a Mitsubishi Eclipses while he lives with us. Now we do own a 2004 Honda CRV and have offered to let him buy it from us for a very, very cheap price but while he has a fascination with the Jeep Cherokee model of SUV he turns his nose up at our offer. He would rather own a junkie, used sedan than a well-maintained SUV that even now sits in our garage.
This has created something of an impasse, which has forced each person involved into a defacto agreement that when Spoilboy saved up enough money or got a job we would then go buy him a car. Over the intervening months Spoilboy was inching ever closer to saving up the required amount of money purchase one doing chores around the house and small jobs like tutoring and teaching basic piano to a couple of kids. Of course, he was also looking for some sort of real part-time job which until very recently had proved fruitless.
Now we are almost caught up to the present day but I have one more little item of essential information to drop. I learned the week before last that Spoilboy had gone on a shopping spree with a large portion of his car nest egg buying what amounted to a load of crap. While this development did not put him completely back at square one it did extend the time for which he would be required to toll in near servitude here at the house unless some new factor presented itself.
This new factor appeared last Wednesday with the call from one of the local fast-food joints that my son now had a job. That night I sang to the stars and danced a funny little jig that my blessed son had entered the ranks of working stiffs and had left the land of slackers. This milestone, while exceptionally joyous, did force the hand of my wife and I requiring us to go out yesterday and begin the process of buying Spoilboy a car.
Folks, the vast majority of my hair passed on to follicle heaven years ago and what I have left is just enough to make me look like an uglier and disgruntled version of the beloved Albert Einstein. By all accounts given the humongous stress from yesterday, I should make the late Telly Savalas look like some unshaven hippie.
The first issue started just as soon as I walked in the door Friday morning after working all night. After I left for work Thursday night Spoilboy and Dragonwife located a small Ford Ranger on Craig’s List that had low mileage, which they wanted me to call and get some more information about. Understand, I freely admit I have a significant Southern accent but this guy made me sound like a New York Yankee. As best I could, I followed his directions but ended up in some serious “Deliverance” country before giving up and turning around to take care of a few, much delayed personal errands.
Matters were only made worse when I arrived back at the house and had a very late brainstorm to look up the advertisement myself on Craig’s List and found a second number to call along with an actual street address as to the location of the small, rural used car dealership. Calling this second number connected me to a more understandable person who described the truck well enough to give me the idea that even I wanted to see it.
Time was the biggest issue by then, both Spoilboy and his sister Darth Wiggles would soon be home soon, so I had to wait for them. I am sure you can guess that by the time we made it to this backcountry used car lot the Ford Ranger had sold. Spoilboy was understandably disappointed, to the point his frustration was showing and my maximum irritation level was being reached.
The next segment of this quest came when we called Dragonwife on the cell who told us to drive all the way across Columbia and meet her at a Kia dealership. This was during rush hour traffic with me not having slept more than two hours. We arrived at the dealership to find the poor salesman that apparently approached my wife doing his best to climb up a light pole in an attempt to get away. Luckily, I was able to mediate the near hostage situation and get negotiations back on track.
Over the intervening two to three hours, the poor salesman jumped through many hoops while Dragonwife and I test drove several rather nice models. Now understand Dragonwife is an attorney and does not pass gas unless she reviews all the possible legal ramifications so when we were not on a test drive she was doing the financial and safety specification mumbo-jumbo dance with the salesman who was acting increasingly dizzy and disorientated.
Unfortunately, after everything we went through we did not buy a car, which tested Spoilboy to the extreme and required Dragonwife to mentally decompress for several hours from her legalistic frame of mind after we returned home. I on the other hand, grabbed several beers and fled upstairs seeking refuge from my son and wife.
This brings us to Saturday morning with all the relevant parties rested and me planning to buy a new bottle of tequila at some point. Everyone please say a word of prayer for my poor soul, as I sit here at the kitchen table pouring out my experiences I figure I will need all the help I can get today, at least until I get my bottle of tequila.