Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welcome To Adulthood, Here are Your Keys

Wow, I went from one blog a week to one a month. That's amazingly pathetic on a couple of levels. Then again, if I had time to watch every Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode (again) you bet your ass I'd do it.
But, alas, I don't. I have become a full-fledge adult. It bites.
Here in these United States of America, people move to different levels based on age. At 16 you get your driver's license and thus become the newest errand boy/girl. Congratulations. At 17 you can go see rated-R movies without being accompanied by an adult. Said adult is usually your cousin or whatever but, hey, more popcorn for you. At 18 you can vote and, if you are male, be drafted. Again, congratulations. 21 is the year we all show our true IDs to buy liquor, but by this time we've already decided how much we can handle and what drinks we like. It's really not that fun, get over it. Finally at 25 your insurance goes down.
There are no milestones after that until you reach 55 and you start getting senior citizen discounts. Then there's retirement which changes all the time so who the hell knows.
ANYWAY... My point is that these are just numbers. Maturity comes to each of us at a different age. For example, I didn't get my license until I was 18 because I didn't have a car and I didn't want to pay. I'd been getting into R-rated movies since forever because I snuck in. I didn't vote until I was like 24 and I didn't have to get insurance until now, at 28, because that is when I bought my first car.
Yes, I bought a new (new) car.
It started when the Altima went in for her tune-up a few weeks ago. My trusty mechanic called me and said that blah blah blah (some kind of car-speak) I needed a new car. Basically the oil had engine parts in it. That's bad. So bad that he wouldn't even consider fixing the engine because it would cost me a lot and it might break again. I'm not gonna lie, I was very sad. The Altima and I have been "there and back again." I was almost at 170,000 miles. We crossed the country three times, almost made it to Chicago, and drove the Pacific Coast. First time I drove that car, I totally got lost and drove around Los Angeles for hours. It was the beginning of a beautiful journey, and now it's ended.
Of course the easiest thing to do was get a new Altima. Duh! But being the rational person that I am, I decided to look around first. For two weeks I asked questions, looked at car deals, checked out the financing, etc.
Since buying a car is a family deal I took my mom and sister with me to test-drive the cars. I thought it would be fast. Pick out a car, drive it, decide if I wanted it or not. Turns out that's not how it works. They suck you in. Like the mob!
We arrived at the Toyota dealership at noon. Immediately a very nice, handsome guy got us in. He had the Altima checked for a trade-in price while we browsed. First was the Prius because I consider myself environmentally friendly. Except that the Prius is kind of slow and it feels like you are inside a nut. Therefore we must screw the envirionment for a little while longer and find something faster and bigger :)
By this time we have another seller with us because it turns out our young man is on his second day at work. I really feel the pressure to help him make his first sale, but he's not that cute. Next is some crossover thingy that we all love but when the price-tag is shown to me I forget all about Mr. Fancy Four-wheels. Finally we drover Mr. Best Seller, the Camry. The Camry is a spacious car but it didn't grab me. If I'm going to spend the next ten years with something (or someone) I want to be able to say "I fell in love at first sight" or at least "It may not look like much but damn it's a good ride."
Now comes the hard part: escape. I don't know why car dealerships are out in the open when it feels like you are trapped inside a cell until you agree to sign a piece of paper. Granted, I was being really nice because they were being nice. Yet, every time I asked for the FINAL PRICE they kept leaving and muttering in silence. Does no one have Excel on their computer? Perhaps a calculator? Three hours after we walked in I walked out with a number (final?) and hungry as hell. The three of us went to eat and I received not one, but two phone calls from the dealership across the street. Something about the cars flying out of the lots. To which I asked "You have flying cars?"
Now let's move over to our friends at Nissan. There was no eager rookie waiting for us here. We met with a nice, no non-sense woman who right off the bat asked me how much I wanted to pay a month. When I told her my figure she gave me two choices. I immediately fell in love with her even when I pointed at a nice car and she said "that's not in your price range."
We have two options. A crossover (I already forgot the name) in black, very simple features, drives well, and good MPG. OR the Altima. Not just any Altima. An ocean-grey, brand-spanking new Altima. "It corners like it's on rails." Yeah, I still don't know what it all does but did I fall in love with this car? Yes. Is it a good ride? Yes. At least we know that if the curse continues I have a damn good car.
Now it's time to play hardball. That took about an hour which was unnecessary because if they had run my credit sooner then we all would've gone home sooner. By this time we are all exhausted so I send my mom and sis home in our old Altima because the trade-in was so proposterous that I am deeply offended and give them a firm "no" that I really means "fuck you."
You would think that deciding on a car would be the longest part, but it isn't. Turns out there's a shit-load of paperwork to read and sign. Of course they're expecting you NOT to read it. But n matter how tired I am I read ever line because a) that's what you should do and b) the finance guy was being a condescending douche-bag.
Did I mention that both dealerships sent in a Hispanic finance specialist. WTF? Both of them tried to sweet-talk me in "our community's language." Fuck off. I'm speaking the universal language of Money.
FINALLY at 11:00 p.m. I go home with a brand-new baby :)
Just like any new parent I can't sleep that night. What did I just do? Can I do this? I just made a long committment. What if something happens? I tossed and turned all night with nerves, stress, and worry taking over me. In the morning I look outside and check if everything is okay.
I just now, two weeks later, took the car out for it's first real drive. I was nervous and we haven't quite gotten used to each other but the trip went well. "Breezy" (as she was aptly named by my cousin) is cool, fast, and very smart. She likes the highway but moves easily on the streets too and she likes to play the radio real loud in both situations. She doesn't like dirt, which is something we have to work on.
Anyone else will tell you that nothing has changed. In fact, several people asked when the first road-trip would be. Although I'd love to do it, I also know that I can't. It's not that I'll never do it again (really? c'mon) but it's the very sudden sense of responsibility that I've acquired. Here is a piece of metal on four wheels that represents several aspects of my life. So tomorrow instead of a road-trip, it's off to work. When the paycheck comes I have to pay the bills first and then decide how much I can splurge. That's how adulthood works :-)