Matthew 13:42: "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
And I’m referring to…
Car shopping during the great heat wave of 2011.
Okay, let’s say used car shopping.
The story is thus:
While her father and I were out running amok on the high seas, Anna was here in Georgia babysitting her pets. Before we left, though, we had budgeted some cash with which to replace her car, the fabulous and much celebrated, Little Red, who was becoming a hazard through no fault of its own (insert grumbling and mumbling about idiots who think they’re mechanics).
The plan was to have her look for cars of interest while here, and upon our return she and I would spend some time checking them out. If we found nothing here, I would begrudgingly drive her back to Missouri where we would continue our search.
We drove all over Northwest Georgia and the experience was, well, rather frightening. The big dealers had nothing in our price range, and the used car dealers were seedy little enterprises stocked with cars which very clearly appeared to either be stolen or repossessed. (Baby seats and other personal items still inside). Oh, there was the cute little yellow VW Beetle with a smiley face painted on the side, but they never returned our phone call.
Sooo, off to Missouri we go. Ten hours later, at 5 pm, the thermometer on my car is reading 105 degrees!
The shopping began in earnest the next day. Let me just point out for the record that every car lot in central Missouri is a vast desert of hot, steamy concrete. The whole time I was there the temperature never dipped below 103 degrees.
Okay, so the adventure begins with a cute little red Chevy 5-speed and a nice salesboy, obviously smitten with my daughter, who tries to give her a lesson on the intricacies of getting and maintaining a good credit rating. All the while I can feel my brain starting to sizzle and I’m thinking, “Dude, I just told you we’re paying cash…you’re cute, but cut the crap.” The entire day, and the next, we drove various sauna-like vehicles, all of which were slightly out of our price range. Dehydration and desperation were in the air.
Then, oh then, we found it! A sweet little Toyota Camry, clean as a whistle and perfectly priced. The dealer, a very grandfatherly type, got the AC going for us and hydrated us while the car was prepped for the big test drive. We drove it down the business loop, then hopped on the interstate to check out how it accelerates and handles at higher speeds. It was sweet! We were smiling and happy and high-fiving each other…then, just after we exited and were heading back to the dealership…
I called the dealership…they were on their way. Then…
IT. STARTED. SMOKING.
The dealer, his partner, and a mechanic arrived. Then…
IT. CAUGHT. FIRE!
Then the mechanic risked life and limb by yanking out the washer fluid container and dousing the flames.
There was a big scorch mark on the hood.
They apologized all over themselves.
We forgave them.
Then we took a break.
Now, being the hearty souls we are, and on a whim (and frankly, we were now just a little gun shy when it came to used car lots), we decided to cruise the local Chevy dealer lot. Of course, you absolutely never cruise a car lot and not have a salesperson magically materialize at your window. Actually, he thought he just might have what we’re looking for. We went inside, he brought us water, the other salesboy there flirted with Anna, we told them story of the flaming Camry, and, being properly mortified, they brought us more water.
Dead end…the perfect car had just been sold.
Okay, now we’re four days into it, it’s Saturday, July 30th and I absolutely have to get back to Georgia, because my Missouri plates are about to expire. On a tip from my mother we drive 30 miles to visit her dealer, who assures her that he has plenty of things in my price range, only to be shown a $12,000 vehicle, and then be told, “No, we have nothing in your price range”. My head is going to explode.
On the way back the conversation turned to VW’s, and I told Anna to get on the I-phone and find a dealer. She says, “Head Motor Company has a Jetta for $3,950”. I said, “Let’s go.” We surprised the salesman by specifically requesting that car, because they had just put it out on the lot that morning. We drove it, we inspected it, I talked him down to $3,500, we bought it.
By the way…