Two weeks ago, my mechanic said:
“I don’t know why you brought your car in for an a/c service. The a/c is working just fine. However, you need new front brakes, which will be $700 and repairs on the power steering, which will be $2,000.”
I was too stunned to hold up my end of the conversation.
Immediately afterward, I had this tête à tête with The Hunter:
The Hunter: You need to get a new car.
Me: But I love my car.
The Hunter: Your car is 17 years old and I have been telling you for the past 3 years at least that you need a new one.
Me: But I love my car. It only has 141,000 miles on it. It’s not used up, yet.
The Hunter: You need a new car. You are not putting $3,000 into something 17 years old
Me: But I love my car.
I may love my car – a black 2003 Toyota Camry XLE with a tan interior – but I do not love cars in general. Researching a new car is tedious. Conversations with car salesmen are tedious. I spent the morning coping with tedious on the computer, but fortunately, before engaging in any tedious conversations, I remembered DJ’s.
DJ’s is a small, used Toyota lot and car repair shop in the next town over. It’s where I bought my much-loved car 15 years ago. The owner, Dave, keeps a small inventory, but if you don’t see what you want, he will take the specs and find it for you. He is kind and he is honest, and his prices are fair. He is not tedious. I think of him as the local “Toyota Whisperer.”
I test drove a 2016 Camry sedan. In gold. It was in great shape and it had low mileage. It even had a key, instead of those silly fobs. Last time I bought a car from DJ’s, it was love at first sight. This time, I just couldn’t commit.
Dave said to take my time, think it over and come back the next week. He promised that particular car would still be there, because it was his father’s! I must have looked horrified. Dave promised me his dad wouldn’t be left high and dry because he almost never drove it – preferring instead a 1995 model. (A man after my own heart.)
I fretted over this car business all weekend, just as much annoyed that I was letting emotion get in the way of a good deal, as I was annoyed at having to buy a car at all. And then it clicked.
When I went back, I explained that the reason I didn’t leap at the gold Camry was that gold exterior didn’t seem balanced with its black interior. It felt too heavy for the car and I was afraid I would be irritated every time I drove it. Now, if it were reversed, it would be perfect (and in fact I would be back to having a black car with a tan interior!)
When I finished this explanation, both DJ and The Hunter looked at me as if I were nuts. Together, in unison, as if they had been rehearsing this speech for months, they informed me that the interior of the gold Camry was … gold. Now it was my turn to look at them as if they had lost their minds.
We walked over to the car. I pointed out the dash and the steering wheel – black. The boys pointed out the seats – gold. How could I have been expected to see that? The Hunter covered up the passenger’s side pretty well, and I hadn’t turned around once to stare at the back seats, preferring to keep my eyes on the road.
I felt the gentlemen looking at one another over the top of my head.
Dave showed me another car. This time it was his wife’s. (First his father’s, then his wife’s! My name will surely be a curse to that family.) It was a silver 2015 Venza. I had never heard of a Venza, which wasn’t surprising as Toyota stopped making them in 2015, although Dave says they are coming back in 2021.
The interior (black and gray) was nicer than the Camry’s. It didn’t leave me unbalanced. It had a CD player. Though the rest of world has moved on, I remain hopelessly behind the times, and still value my books on CD. To counter that, it also had, instead of a simple normal key, a push button starter, which I loathe.
“Just keep the fob in your pocket …”
“You do know,” I reply, “that women’s clothes don’t have pockets.”
“Then keep it in your purse.”
“Do you know how many times women change out their purses, and how easy it is to forget a crucial something?”
Those are valid reasons to loathe the stupid little fobs, but they are not my real reason.
“The real problem with these fobs is that they add an extra layer of technology which is expensive and of no benefit. A key can open the door and start the car just as easily. What if the batteries on the fob die sometime when I am out in the pouring rain, after dark and alone? How do you get home with a car that won’t start because the batteries in the little bitty piece that say ‘Go ahead, start’ are shot? Keys don’t die on you.”
It appears I have no choice about the fob. I continued to be torn between the Camry with a key (and an unbalanced interior) and the fob-laden Venza. The Hunter pointed out that the all wheel drive of the Venza made it a safer car, and that I would be doing him a favor if I would kindly choose a safer car.
I signed the papers. As I got in the Venza to drive away, Dave asked if I was excited. He is a car person and to a car person, new cars are always exciting. I’m sure it disappointed him when I said, “I already miss my old car.”
What he doesn’t yet know is how fickle a minx I am. Unexpectedly, within 10 feet of leaving the lot, I was in love all over again.