The mileage police were hot on our trail. For months now, we knew we were getting dangerously close to going over the 12,000 miles-per-year limit that came with the lease of our 2012 Toyota Camry.
But we didn't care.
We drove that car from New Jersey to Tennessee.
We drove that car from New Jersey to North Carolina.
We drove that car from New Jersey to Philadelphia and New York and Washington, DC.
We drove that car everywhere.
And finally, we crossed the line. The point of no return. The danger zone.
We (egads!) surpassed our allotted miles...with eight months still left to go on the lease!
We knew we could only evade the mileage police for so long before we would have to pay. The time had come to evaluate our options:
1. Ground the car until the lease expired and use my husband Bob's car, a 2005 Mercury with over 100,000 miles to its name.
2. Keep on driving, throw caution to the wind, and pay the mileage fees when the lease expired.
3. Go to the dealership and play "Let's Make a Deal" in the hopes of returning the car early and driving away with a newer model.
We chose option 3.
Upon arrival at the dealership, we were greeted by a red-haired, blue eyed, muscular young man in his late 20s whose sexy accent nearly put me into a hypnotic state that would have resulted in the purchase of every car in the show room. Fortunately, reality came back to me in the form of my much more sensible hubby, who reminded me to play it cool, don't show too much emotion when taking a test drive, and let him do the negotiating.
Turns out Mr. Red Head hailed from South Africa, which turned out to be quite the conversation starter as I posed question after question about his homeland. He responded with humor and smiles (I know....I know...of course he responded with smiles, he did want to sell us a car after all!)
Mr. Red Head escorted us to a cobolt grey 2015 Camry, which from the outside, seemed to mirror the 2012 version we were attempting to trade in. The inside, however, not so much.
"Wow, you can see the outside temperature on the dashboard!" I exclaimed with glee.
"How many miles to the gallon does it get?" asked Bob
"Wow, you can program up to 36 radio stations!" I exclaimed with glee.
"Does it have four wheel drive?" asked Bob.
"Wow, it's got a hands-free phone system!" I exclaimed with glee.
"What's the horse power on this thing? asked Bob.
"Wow, I want this car!!" I exclaimed with glee.
"What's it gonna cost?" asked Bob, thus initiating phase two of the car-buying process....
THE NEGOTIATIONS. (Cue twilight zone music)
Mr. Red Head sat us down at a desk, offered up some cookies and coffee, and started punching the numbers. Now, had I been soley responsible for phase two of the car buying process, the negotiations would have gone something like this:
Mr. Red Head: "Well Lisa, here's what I can do for you. I'll make you a great deal. You only have to pay $9,473 per month, plus your entire wardrobe, your home, all of your furniture, and your first-born.
Me: "I'LL TAKE IT!"
Fortunately, this is where Bob's expertise came into play, so the neotiations went something like this:
Mr. Red Head: "Well Bob, I can give you this car for the incredibly low payment of one dime per month, plus we'll throw in a free oil change every six months."
Bob: "Make it a nickel or we walk!"
And so on it went. As my Bob played hardball with Mr. Red Head, the sun sank lower and lower on the horizon. Finally, we all came to a mutual agreement! Mr. Red Head even threw in two free diet cokes that I demanded, using my powerful negotiating skills!
We had to sign our name on 3,276 pieces of legal documents. Then they had to call the bank, and the insurance company, and the credit bureau, and the leasing company, and the secretary of transportation, and the President of the United States....
Finally...we were escorted in to see the finance manager, fully prepared to use a credit card for the down payment, only to learn that they refused to accept anything but cash or check.
We had left our check book at home.
Would this tragic turn of events bring the negotiations to a screeching halt!
Mr. Finance Manager came up with an ingenious plan. He proposed that I stay at the dealership and sign my name to the remaining 274 documents, while Mr. Red Head drive Bob to our home, where Bob would hand over a check for the down payment.
By now the sun had truly disappeared, and the staff of the dealership had all but gone home. Mr. Finance Manager walked me outside to my new car, which sat parked next to my old car....a car I no longer owner, but still bore the marks of the two years we had spent together.
Alone, cold, and in the dark, I began the arduous task of transferring all of the accumulated stuff from my old car into the new, including:
-A dirty towel used for ridding the windows of the dew and frost that forms in the overnight hours.
-A 2014 road map of every state in the country, along with individual maps of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.
-Discarded envelopes that once held hated bills.
-Newspaper circulars boasting of coupons long expired.
-A broken ice scraper.
-A musty old blanket that became the saving grace for my 17-year old daughter Melissa when her menopausal mother blasted the air conditioner in the middle of January
-A brochure from Gatlinburg, TN, where we had taken Melissa, and my dear friend Angelica's teenage boys Chris and Brandon on vacation the previous summer.
-A GPS Unit
-A note pad
-A CD featuring a recording of one of Melissa's original songs
Anxious to get out of the cold and on my way, I hastily threw everything in the front seat of the new car. I expected to be thrilled, but meloncholy took hold. The pile on the passenger seat was just a bunch of stuff, wasn't it? The old car sitting there, alone and abandoned on the lot was just a pile of metal, wasn't it?
Or was it?
My old car, along with two year's worth of junk that had littered the interior, had represented something more to me. That car was where Melissa first got behind the wheel and pressed on the gas pedal, nearly crashing through the garage. That car took us to my step-daughter Jessica's wedding to her husband Brian. That car traversed back roads and highways, enroute to visits with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. That car helped us enjoy some spectacular vacations. That car set the scene for some major arguements, most involving Bob's unwillingness to listen to my driving directives. That car played host to laughter and, yes, even some tears.
That car had been a part of our family.
New memories would come, I knew. But for now, I simply drove out of the dealership parking lot, pushed the meloncholy aside, turned onto the open road, and continued on my way home.
|Behind the wheel of my new car!|
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