Monday, June 10, 2013

Laughing all the way

It might have been mentioned previously here that I'm not a car guy.

Never have been. My main concern about a vehicle is that it get me where I'm going reliably. Dependability is the main attribute I want it to have. Make, model, color and all that? Not a big deal.

I detest purchasing a car. Just can't stand the whole process.

Which is why, when Wife and I finally bit the bullet and bought a car in late March, it was the culmination of a nearly two-year process.

For a number of years, Wife and I possessed three cars between us. She drove a sedan as her main car, I drove a SUV in town and I had a little compact car I drove back and forth to Memphis the days I work there because it got such good gas mileage.

We decided we could go back to two cars between the two of us. The fact is Wife doesn't drive nearly as much around town as she once did, since she doesn't have little ones to cart around and taxi here and there and we go a lot of local places together. It just didn't make much sense anymore for us to have three cars for the two of us. 

So we decided to sell the SUV and the compact car. She would hand her sedan down to me and we would get her something new. The sedan she would hand down wouldn't get quite the good mileage my compact did, but with what we would save in insurance, we would come out ahead.

To say we looked for two years is a little bit of a stretch because we really didn't look; we mostly talked about it, looked on the Internet, read ads in the newspaper, etc. while continuing to drive the cars we had. When Wife would suggest we go take a test drive, I would become very quiet and shake my head. Did I mention Wife is very patient?

Anyhow, around the end of last year we began to get serious. Each of the three cars had well over 100,000 miles and I was going to either have to put some major work into them or get rid of at least a couple of them.

I sold the compact car first. A friend bought it. I gave him a fair deal and he was happy with it.

I began to drive the SUV back and forth to Memphis, piling up the miles.

I asked Wife if she would just go pick out a car and buy it. I would sell the SUV, or trade it, and take her old car if she would just go ahead and get a new for one for herself. That's how much I loathe the process.

She looked and she took test drives. But she wasn't willing to pull the final trigger without me.

On a Saturday in March she made an appointment with a dealer, at a place where she had already test driven a car she liked. She told me I would be going with her.

 "What do you want to accomplish?" I asked her.

"I want to buy a car," she replied.

"Today?" I asked her incredulously.

 "Will there be a better day?" she asked, equally incredulously, reminding me that we certainly could not be accused of rushing into anything.

A few hours later we had bought Wife a new car. I say "new" but it actually had 19,000 miles on it. Although I have bought a couple of them in my life, I pretty much believe a brand new car loses its value so fast that it's almost impossible not to get taken. I prefer to buy one that is "gently" used.

I sold the SUV a few weeks later. Wife dutifully handed down her car to me and I put a little money into it to insure it will last a bit longer and I don't have to go through this again any time soon.

Now here's the funny part. Wife's car has a "navigation system" that includes a rear camera. It also doesn't have a key. You carry around this little remote control (Wife and I call it the "key thing") and you push a button to start the car. 

The little "key thing" is marketed as a device that will keep you from ever locking your keys (or your key things) in the car, because if you try to lock it and the key thing is inside the car, it will make a beeping sound and it won't lock.

That works fine but here's the thing. You can't start the car without the key thing. So what's the problem, you ask?

Well, Wife and I are at the age and station in life where we go a lot of places together and sometimes I'll let her out somewhere and come back and pick her up. She typically keeps the key thing in her purse.

The scenario is this: I let her out and tell her I'll pick her up at X time. I drive merrily off and the key thing is in her purse. After I stop the car and turn it off, you guessed it -- I can't start the car. More than once this has happened. Not very efficient, is it? I appreciate that I can't lock the keys in the car but not being able to start the car is a bit of a problem.

Also, when I've been driving that car and I arrive back at home, I'll leave the key thing in the car, which is in the garage, for several hours. Since it's not a  real key, I will have just tossed it somewhere on the car's middle console and I don't think about retrieving it when I go in the house.

This will be very convenient for the person who wants to steal the car because since I often leave the garage door open, our friendly thief can just casually walk in the garage, get in the car, push the button and off he (or she) goes.

The best story about the car, however, is this:  Wife, who has an almost perfect driving record, has hardly ever put a scratch on a car and qualifies for every available safe-drive discount, had the first little incident with the car.

We've lived in our house 12 years and she's zipped in and out her side of the garage thousands of times.

A few weeks ago she backed her new (to her) car right into the garage door, just as pretty as you please. That's right, her navigation-system and rear-camera equipped vehicle.  Right into the garage door.

When she called and told me, I said, "you mean the car with the rear cam . . .?"

I didn't have to finish that question. 

I'm thinking old fashioned car keys work just fine, as well as turning one's head to see what's lurking behind (like, say, a garage door). 

Is it any wonder we've been happily married 29 years? We just keep laughing.