The matter with me – A car story

Hey, I’ve got eyes that see
Don’t say there’s nothing wrong with me
You say I’m just paranoid, well that’s something the matter with me
That’s one thing the matter with me

Hey, they checked my vital signs
But I can read between the lines
They tell me I worry too much, now there’s another thing
The matter with me. That’s two things the matter with me.

– The Boomers YYZ, The matter with me. From the album What we do.

I remember way back when LovelyWife and I decided it was time to get a car – the first ever thing we would buy as a couple. The year was 1992 and we were living in Montreal. During a week long visit in Sherbrooke, I had to get new sneakers so we borrowed my FMIL’s car and went to shop for shoes. On our way back from the store, I jokingly said something about buying two modes of transportation during the same week, and sure enough by the end of that week we were driving back to Montreal in our very own 1992 Geo Metro.

Yes, it was that color.

One of the main things I remember from buying this car was the fact that since we were really young, the sales person wasn’t taking us very seriously. Before arriving at the dealership, I already knew how much the insurance was going to be, I knew how much the car was going to be and I even knew what color we wanted. Those of you who think that OCD thing I have is recent, not so much.

We walked in the dealership, and when after a while the first person asked us if they could help us, I simply said: “I want this car, in green”. So the guy started telling me about the engine, the fuel consumption, the handling… So I repeated: “I want this car, in green. I need it for Sunday at the latest.” The guy stopped talking and looked at my FMIL. She said that we were the one buying the car, so we finally sat down and signed the papers. We got the car on the Friday.

We drove that car for seven years. Over the course of these years, the car was often serviced at the dealership, and often the mechanics would not take me seriously. Once I was even charged for parts that would not fit on the car.

I always told myself that since I was 21, this might be somewhat normal.

And then in 1999 I started shopping around for a new car. I was 28, so surely I would be taken more seriously that time, yes? Also, I wasn’t going to get a GM because the car place was treating me like a kid.

No. It turns out that even at 28, you’re still considered a kid by car salesguys.

The first place I went to simply *cough* Hyundai *cough* ignored me. So after standing around in the showroom for a good 20 minutes, I just walked out. Only then did someone managed to pull themselves away from their water cooler discussion to ask an half-assed: “Looking for a car?” Yes, but not here.

I changed my strategy at the second place. I walked into Ford, and went straight to the first salesguy I saw. “I want a Focus Zx-3 sedan, silver, manual. Can we go on a test drive before signing the papers?” I thought that would convey the proper amount of interest in the car, coupled with the allure of a really easy sale. Imagine my surprise when the salesguy reply was: “I only have an automatic hatchback version that you can drive, but that’s not really the same thing… So, I dunno. Wanna do that?” I said no, I didn’t want to do that and walked out.

I then went to Saturn, figuring their no hassle thing would work to my advantage. They were nice enough folks, and by nice enough I meant that they greeted me with: “Welcome to Saturn, the SL1 is staring at 15,999$ buy or lease come here and just sign here you have 30 days to bring back the car red is an awesome color”, but ultimately the car was just not a good fit.

I ended up getting a Toyota Echo. It was a great car, but the fact that I was treated like a human being really made the whole Toyota experience awesome.

When in 2004 I wanted a new car, I just went the Toyota way and “upgraded” to a Corolla. Unfortunately, that car was the worst car I ever bought, and the dealership was the worst dealership I’ve ever dealt with. It’s amazing that I kept this car for four years. Of course, when it was time to get a new car, I didn’t want to drive a Toyota anymore.

In 2008 I leased a Nissan Rogue. I have to say that I really enjoy driving this SUV, and I even thought about buying it once the lease period is over. Nissan was nice enough when I gave them my piece-of-you-know-what Corolla, and gave me an awesome deal on a really nice car, so why not. But I like new cars. So when my FFIL hinted that he was willing to buy my SUV one my lease was over – or sooner – I started to think about cars, research them online, look at options. Yesterday I picked up my SUV from Nissan, and figured I was going to get a salesguy to run some numbers for me, help me crystalize my plan to get my current SUV to my FFIL and leave with a new car.

I thought that at 40, I was certainly going to get the proper amount of respect from a business who was about to take anywhere from 20K to 40K from me.

I turns out Nissan is not that interested in my money. Or so it seems. Because when asked about the whole exchange thing, the guy just said: “yes, it’s possible.” When pressed for more information, I managed to get a little more, just enough to know that my FFIL and I had to be there at the same time.

What. The. Fuck. Giving away money has never been so hard.

Here’s what I told the guy:

“I have this Rogue. The lease on it is finishing up soon, and I’m looking for a way to sell this Rogue to my FFIL, and in the same visit leave with a new car, possibly smaller than what I have right now. I’m looking for an approximate pricing on either a Juke, a Versa sedan, a Sentra, a Leaf, a Maxima or any other model that may be a good fit for what I do with a car, which is drive to the grocery store and back. I like new cars and I like fun cars. How do we make this happen?”

Here’s what the guy replied:

“The Juke is not a family car. The Versa has a 4.5% lease rate, you probably don’t want that.” Finally we’re getting somewhere.  “But you’re a preferred client, so you’re getting a deal on the rate. This car (points at Versa) is 17K.”

I’m nodding, looking at him. He’s looking at me. He’s looking outside. He’s looking at his watch. He’s slowly walking away.

“Do you have a business card?”

“Not really. See you around.”

I just stood there. Dumbfounded. I’m a 40 year-old dude and I can’t be taken seriously when it comes to buying a new car. There is something wrong with me. I’m hoping the people at Honda are assholes too, because I really don’t want to drive a Civic.

What if there’s no heaven and I live like a priest?
What if I write a book they don’t like in the Middle East?
What if I do something good and nobody sees?
Then, there would be something the matter with me.
Then I’d have three things the matter with me.

– The Boomers YYZ, The matter with me. From the album What we do.

Speaking of the Boomers

Doesn’t it look like I Photoshopped myself in the background there? 😉 Maybe a beard would make me more respectable?

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11 comments

  1. For the past 20 years I’ve been buying cars from the same dealer. Not a lot of them, mind you, just 4… but they’ve all been new (which I only started doing after I had kids).

    This past spring I bought my last car from them. They didn’t listen to anything I said and were far more interested in selling me the car they wanted to sell than the one my wife and I wanted to buy. I’ll never go there again.

  2. Car dealerships are the pits and I avoid them at all costs. Do you have brokers up there? You might be better off going through a broker. Most of them can get you anything you want at a great price. No dealership necessary.

  3. Oh, God – don’t get a Civic!! Pieces of shit. Seriously. Wait – I’m thinking of the CRV. Do NOT get a CR-V. Ugh.
    My SIL is a very cute girl – former (although at the time she was) Bengal cheerleader (NFL cheerleader) – in other words, she looks pretty ditzy and malleable, probably, to car salesmen. They learned pretty quickly that she wasn’t, and she walked in, pointed out their inconsistencies with numbers, told them what she’d been quoted for what she wanted, and walked out with a fantastic deal on the car she wanted. It was damned impressive. Other customers were even cheering her on!
    How about Subaru? Or Dodge? Do you even have those places in Canadia?

    1. Needless to say I don’t look like a cheerleader. 🙂

      You guys make me laugh when you get all “do you have this or that in Canada?”. Of course we have Dodge and Subaru dealerships. We also have Narmoz, Ilko and Fleuret dealerships. Do you have those?

      🙂

  4. My dad bought so many new cars from the same dealership for so long that he was featured in a an ad and had his face plastered to a billboard along the expressway.

    I was very proud of him bc he remembered to plaster down his unruly hair that day.

    Anyway.

    When Mike and I bought our first new car, we were stupid….we went without an actual adult (because “adult” does not mean married with two kids when you’ve never bought a new car before) and were promptly raped and pillaged. Three years later, it’s still an amazing car but we’ve finally paid off the interest. Now we’re have another kid and need a bigger car. Guess who is going with us to the dealership?

    Yup. My dad.

    That’s my story and it has nothing to do with your post really but hey – that’s how it goes sometimes.

      1. You could try but he has trouble understanding people who don’t speak English. And by “English” I mean “a really thick southern accent”.

        He refused to watch Harry Potter bc he couldn’t understand them and said “they should make these movies in English”. The grandkids got a kick out of that.

        My am I rambly today!

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