Sunday, April 7, 2013

Car Shoppin' with my Sweetie

Today is General Conference, a time to hear sacred words from a living prophet and reflect upon our spiritual progress in this eternal journey.

But between or after the sessions of conference, maybe I could interest you in a little secularism: quotes from early last month when I went van shopping with Jon.

It was the best date I've had in ages. We were relaxed--focused but not stressed--and entirely kid free for hours. It felt a little like being back in college, except with better purchasing power. Some people think of shopping as a chore. As with most things, it all depends on the company you keep. In our case, it was a blast!

Thanks to Ronald Homer for his help with research, especially for his interactive, prioritized google map of dealerships with car information available in a mouse over.

Jon and I also did research, creating spreadsheets based on car features, mileage, and price. It says something profound that his file was called "Cars" while mine was "Vanalysis."

Whatever they were called, doing our homework definitely paid off, as evidenced below:

“And this 3013 Honda Odyssey EXL  is pre-owned but it has only a few thousand miles on it. It was owned by a really rich guy. He had a driver and everything! And he loved it! But he traded it in because there wasn’t room for him to wear his big Texas cowboy hat.”

--a salesman at Round Rock Toyota. We didn’t believe him, but gave him points for creativity.

Salesman: What about one of these eight-seat passenger trucks?
Gail: [skeptically] I doubt they would have good fuel efficiency.
Salesman: They use the same engine as the Oddyseys.
[Gail and Jon both spot this evasion and are not impressed]
Gail: [annoyed] But it’s built on a truck chassis, not a car chassis.
Salesman: [annoyed] Well, yes, but they have this great electronic system that automatically adjusts and if you reach a certain speed, it switches over so it runs like a four cylinder engine. They’re really similar in gas mileage.
 Gail: [calling his bluff] Jon, where did you put the fuel efficiency ratings on that spreadsheet…? [She consults her tablet.]
Salesman: Oh, don’t worry, I can pull up the ratings for you right now. [He makes a show of pulling out his smartphone and speaking into it.] Miles per gallon 2010 Odyssey EXL. [His efforts at superior “gun slinging” are hampered by the very long time it takes for the information to come up.] I guess it’s slow because of the weather…there we are. Um.

--To his credit, he admitted the 6 mpg difference between the two. But he further lost my sympathy when he tried to cover it up with “I really thought that on the later models, like 2012 and beyond…”
Uh huh.

“I find it fascinating that these sales guys remember the story of the car, how it was driven by a talented grad student who traded it in when she got a great job in New York City, but they don’t remember minor details like whether or not it has an eighth seat. ”

--Jon. He’s so cynical! What happened to the honest, innocent man I married? (Right; I corrupted him.)

Gail: Renae warned us that they would try to park us somewhere and then ‘go check with a manager’ but really just let us cool our heels for fifteen minutes in an effort to wear us down. But what they don’t realize is that it’s heavenly to sit here with you and just talk, uninterrupted, without children. I could stay here for an hour…but oooh! I just had a Brilliant Idea! An inspiration!
[Jon waits expectantly]
Gail: I know how to speed up the service! We’re in a corner glass office. Lots of passers-by. Two guys in a control booth right over there. And we’re in full view of the front door. Let’s start making out! Betcha’d only take a minute before somebody would go find our salesman and say “For Pete’s sake, get back in there with your customers!!!”
[Jon blushes. And laughs. Then looks torn: I’m normally not very “kissy,” so he would be foolish to turn down the opportunity. On the other hand, he is definitely NOT an exhibitionist. (Neither am I, normally. Ask my sisters about kissing Jon in public on my wedding day.)]
Gail: Come on, it’s win/win. Either we get faster service, or you get to kiss me. A lot.
[Jon relents, slightly. We giggle. Then laugh uproariously. Then flirt shamelessly some more.]

--It worked! Two minutes later, just as Jon was starting to suggest that we walk out, our salesman magically appeared again. This time with a car he had magically discovered on the back lot. Just gotten in that day, still not completely detailed, a 2008 Sienna XLE, medium mileage…amazing deal…!
Of course, according to the carfax report, the vehicle has been sitting there for several weeks. Which might explain why our salesman was so eager to haggle over price. While (I suspect) staging “calls” from his manager about showing the van to another couple.

"The car seemed worth investigating. I was just reluctant because I didn't think I could stand being trapped in a vehicle with that obnoxious salesman for twenty minutes."

--Jon, after test driving the vehicle above. The salesguy was VERY annoying. He kept trying to tell us that we were so excited! And then drawing smiley faces everywhere to show his manager how great we thought his mediocre machines were!!! 

“I’ve discovered it’s a great negotiating tactic to sit quietly and look skeptical. It helps if you really are skeptical. Which, when car shopping, I almost always am. Salesmen start babbling the most interesting things to fill the silence.”


“I enjoyed how we almost psychically took turns being the bad cop.”


"I'd rather go van shopping with you than go to Europe with anybody else."

--Gail, giggling with infatuation.

[While driving to yet another dealership, Gail realizes she's been too forward and switches tactics.]
Gail: This is fun. I like you.
Jon: Thank you.
Gail: [Coyly] Of course, I still want to shop around a little more, look at a few more dealerships, before I sign a marriage contract.
Jon:  Yes, dear. Good luck finding a babysitter.

--His delivery was a perfect deadpan. I cracked up.

Above: the car we finally chose. 2008 Honda Odyssey EXL. All the features we wanted, and no unnecessary frills like attached DVD players. (That's why tablets were invented.)

We held a naming contest. The best suggestions were:

Bloody Mary
Marie Antoinette
Robinson Crusoe ('cause he was 'marooned')

I went with Robespierre Crusoe.

We're calling him "Rob."

Now I'm wondering if I can work in some kind of Asimovian "Robbie" reference. Though the idea of a violent, radical nursemaid is scary. Especially if he is then stranded on a desert island in penance. If I'd wanted that story arc, I should have called the car "Napoleon."


Jon said...

You forgot to mention the manager at the first dealership. When we asserted firmly that we were going to shop around before making a final decision she came out and tried to put us on a guilt trip. She acted like she was hurt that we didn't trust them enough to just blindly through our hard-earned cash away without so much as a second thought.

Brian Thomas said...

Hehe, we might have to have you guys come to California the next time we need a car! Of course, we'd have to steer clear of you while you kiss to hurry the salesmen.