As previously reported
, my car is dying a slow, painful death. So, The Scientist, little girl and I went to a used car lot a couple of weeks ago to look at a car. Just one car, though.
Here's the thing: my wife drives a Ford Explorer and loves it. LOVES IT. I like it too, but not like her. She babys that thing like you wouldn't believe. This has resulted in her developing a close relationship with her Certified Ford Maintenance Representative, Brian. Or, as he's typically called, her "buddy Brian." As in, "your buddy Brian called and the car is ready."
Being close friends like they are, she mentions to him at some point that most of my car doesn't work. Naturally, he jumps all over this and says there's a great car on the lot right now
that's in our price range, has all the features we want, and so on.
Now, The Scientist and I have already spoken about this, and the plan was for me to drive the Neon for one more winter, then
we'd start looking for a new car for me. Well, like every single other plan that she and I have ever discussed in our lives, it is subject to change at her whim.
Now to be fair, if this really was a fantastic deal that was being offered because of her long standing with their company... then, yeah, we should check it out.
But. I hate car salesmen. HATE THEM. If you're a car sales guy and we've never met, I'm sorry, but I hate you. They all act like you're their best friend while you know inside they are seething with loathing for you. I hate even driving onto the lot, when every single salesman's head swivels to scope me out, evaluate me as a buyer, then approaches me with greasy smile and outstretched hand. I haven't bought a ton of cars in my life, but my experiences have been universally terrible.
1989: I'm undecided on what exactly I want, but I know I want a small, economy car that's cheap. One sales guy actually tries to convince me to buy a mini-van. And the worst part is, he started to make sense. Came to my senses long enough to flee the lot.
1989: I buy my first car ever. It's a VW Rabbit, hatchback with a moon roof. Good Lord, but I loved that car. But, the salesman is a chubby overbearing guy that's working a little too hard to find me financing. His over-sincere manner is achingly false, such as when he finally calls me to announce "We did it! We did it!" when he finds a bank that will take a chance on me. And, frankly, the only reason "we did it" was because I called my parents and asked for some money so I could put down a bigger deposit.
1990: I test drive an SUV that I have no intention of buying. After I get back the sales guy immediately starts pushing papers across the desk for me to sign. To staunch the flow of forms I have to finally say "Look, I'm not going to buy a car today." He almost looks hurt, and says "But I thought we had a deal?"
1997: I buy my first new car. I have it in my head that I want a little two-door, mostly from driving my parent's hand-me-down cars, which are all giant Oldsmobiles or the like. Settling on a Neon, I negotiate with a sales guy for a week. (As an aside, this guy's name was "Ken Kreamer." Honest to God. Perhaps the best porn name I've ever heard.) At one of the final meetings he brings out his manager to help close the deal. When I tell him that I was really hoping to find something with a bigger engine, he says to me "You planning on racin' this car?" Insulted, I leave and buy practically the same car from another company. A car which was on the lot, despite Mr. Kreamer assuring me that there wasn't a car like the one I wanted "this side of the Mississippi." Ken doesn't sell me a car, but does cement in my mind that all car sales guys are lying assholes.
2004: We go to look at a used Ford.
There's a lot of "since you're a great customer of ours" and "the sales manager will be handling you personally" and crap like that. I'm escorted out to a Ford... what? I don't even remember what it was. A four door, nothing especially exciting about it. I drive it around for awhile. It's nice. Not great, but nice. I'm reminded of just how cool it is to have a car with working AC, radio and dashboard gauges. But that doesn't seem to be a great reason to buy this car.
So I get back and we sit down with the general manager (another "perk" since my wife's such a good customer). And this guy... oh boy.
First, he's fat. Like Jabba the Hutt fat. He lolls in his chair, begging to be pushed back into the ocean. His neck is covered with moles the size of the tip of my thumb. There's a picture of him standing with family at a wedding, so he can stand (or, at least, could at one time). He stresses how he wants to help us, and how he's going to be honest with us.
He pecks at his keyboard and gives us numbers and different options. Like everything dealing with numbers, I let The Scientist handle the details. Not only am I not good at this negotiating crap, I fucking HATE IT. I take out the trash, she deals with numbers. Works for us.
Finally, he says that he can get the price down to $5,100, and that's the best he can do. Now, mind you, we saw the exact same car - the very car I just test drove ten minutes ago - on their Web site for $4,900. And, they're running a "$2,000 for any trade in" special. Naturally, my wife and I, not being greasy car selling motherfuckers, think we're getting a $3,000 car.
Asking about the $2,000 trade in, this giant mound of flesh confides in us that to do that, he'd just have to jack up the price by $2,000. Swear to God, the very next words out of his mouth are "but I want to be honest with you people."
What it finally boils down to is he says the Neon is worthless because of the high miles (which is about the only thing he says that I really believe) and we didn't buy a car that day. Way I figure it, my car will be just as worthless a year from now, so why rush?
There will be plenty of assholes to shake my hand next year.