If you get a master’s degree, you will eventually need a job in order to pay off your student loans. And also, to pay the rent on your shiny, new, grown-up apartment. The problem with shiny, new, grown-up apartments is that they tend to live just outside the range of decent public transportation, which means that in order to live in said apartment and hold said job, you’ll need a car.
Let me tell you the one thing I have learned about buying a car: avoid it at all costs. It is never not a pain in the rear, even if you go to a dealership that can inspect, register, and communicate with your agent to insure the car before you pick it up. People who sell cars are financially dependent on pressuring your into buying more than you absolutely need, which means the relationship will always be a frustrating powerplay, regardless of how decent the salespeople might be at heart. Just don’t do it if you can avoid it, alright? Buses are better. Trains are better. Bicycle salespeople are significantly less pushy.
Unfortunately, there is no bus, train, or bicycle capable of transporting me to my new job for the time being, given that I haven’t been training for the Tour de France. So Sunday, after doing a bit of reading up on used cars with decent gas mileage, John and I detoured on our way home from Ikea (for the second time that weekend) to tiptoe through the piranha-feeding grounds affectionately known to locals as the “auto mile.” Surprisingly, we found an ideal car at the first dealership we stopped at. A 2004 with only 37,000 miles on it, owned by only one older couple and maintained in pristine condition, the salesman described it as a Disneyland car.
He didn’t explain what he meant by that. Something about retired people and Florida, maybe? I don’t know. The point was that it was a bit of a find, considering the price they were asking. The only problem was that, as of Sunday, I was still waiting for a bunch of corporate paperwork to be processed that would finalize my job offer. I didn’t want to buy the car only to have my new employers call me and say the computers had taken one binary look at my paperwork and laughed me out of a job. (Come on now, stranger things have happened.) So we did the only sensible thing: we walked away. The manager and the salesman both shook their heads, offered us deals, told us “a deal like this just isn’t going to last,” and we regrettably sighed that we just couldn’t commit until the final paperwork on my job offer was confirmed.
This last week was a nightmare of waiting for that dratted paperwork. I was supposed to start training on Tuesday, then Wednesday, then Thursday, but it was Thursday afternoon before they got the official go-ahead to bring me in on Friday. This made no real difference for the car situation because, wouldn’t you know it, the salesman called us on Wednesday to let us know that the “deal that wasn’t going to last” had, in fact, lasted, and his boss was even willing to let him hold the car for us. And curse my excitable bones, I felt lucky, which makes it darned hard to barter for a better price.
Feeling lucky, I walked into the dealership the next day after I got the call that confirmed I could start training thinking I could whip through a few forms and be out of the dealership in half an hour, tops, and come back with John in the evening to sign off on a few more things and pick up the car. Ha.
Ha, ha, ha, and HA.
I walked into the dealership at 2:30. I walked out at 5:00 to pick John up. We walked back in at 6:00, and didn’t leave until 7:30. Without the car. Apparently all of the registration and such has to be done earlier in the day, but we were assured by our salesman that we could pick it up the next day at 6:00, clean, stickered, registered, and with a full tank of gas.
Again, I say ha!
We walked into the dealership around 6:00 to be met with the blank stares of salespeople who informed us that our guy had the day off and they thought the pick-up was for the next day. Puzzling, slightly vexing, but not worth hanging around for when we live close enough that picking the car up the next day would have been no problem. Except that the sales manager was there and insisted on setting things right for us.
We left at 7:30 again, though we did at least manage to take the car with us that time. Five hours of my life were utterly wasted at the dealership this week, trying to read in spite of the grainy t.v. I was plopped in front of and could barely hear over the obnoxiously loud music. I’ve never bought a car from a dealership before (John did all the legwork on buying out his lease), so I don’t know how typical this experience is, but I would take waiting for the bus every day over waiting for a car dealership any day.
That being said…my new car is quite fetching, and a bit more comfortable than buses (though not trains). I’ll update the post with a photo when I get a chance.