My wife and I have just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Given the times and circumstances, there was no big celebration. But as a gift to ourselves we bought a new car, well new to us at least. We’ve named the car Ruby. (Look it up, if you don’t understand)
Why a new car you ask? Times being what they are, there are a couple of reasons. We drive an SUV that is physically too large, and have you seen the price of gas recently?? It’s size alone says that fuel economy was not its leading feature. Reason two, it’s not comfortable to drive in. The seats were designed with rugged adventure in mind. Driving any long distance caused me severe back-ache, long before my cancer took over that role. Reason three, the most important reason for buying a new car, Honey and I are going on a road trip. Driving ‘The Beast’ the kind of distance we are planning, would cripple us both financially and physically. That’s right, all our vehicles get names, it’s a quirk.
I use the term ‘new’ when I talk about the purchase of Ruby, but the truth is that, it is only new to me. I never buy new when it comes to cars. One, because I can’t afford it, and two, because I figure it’s just as easy to buy a new lemon as a used one, just a lot cheaper. My feeling is, let someone else break the engine in, and deal with the initial problems all new cars seem to have. I have had a new car once, and the number of times I needed to return to the dealership to have minor adjustments made because of small defects was ridiculous. Let someone else deal with it, I’ll buy used, thank you very much.
Lots of internet research went into the purchase of Ruby. Hours of reading reviews, top-ten lists, and having conversations about what suited us best. It took three months of research, before we had a short-list of makes and models, we were interested in. Then we hunted for used cars that were available in our area, again narrowing down the number to a mere handful. All this accomplished from the comfort of our living room
Going to a dealership is the part I hate the most about buying cars, and dealing with a salesperson. They’re obnoxious! I know! I was one!! They hover over you, and ask inane questions in an effort to be your best friend. They go on about every vehicle you show interest in, as if they had just been driving that exact car the day before. Step back and give me some air already!!
I’m not a car guy. I don’t speak ‘car’ any better than I speak Spanish. I feel like an idiot when I’m standing staring at a car with its hood up. “Yep, yep… that’s an engine alright… and look… it has four tires too…” That’s me at a dealership. I feel that the obnoxious salespeople always have the upper hand on me, just because they can identify the catalytic converter, and the only thing I can identify is where the windshield washer fluid goes. I suffer severe anxiety, whenever anyone starts speaking ‘car’.
It took two trips to the Big City, four-hours of driving, before settling on Ruby, a shiny black 2018 Nissan Altima. It has lots of bells and whistles, not as many as some cars we looked at, but more than enough for a pair of vehicular-challenged people to deal with. But Ruby ticked most of our boxes, including heated seats that were a must. Always great in our cold harsh winters, but also great for relieving back pain on long drives at any time. It’s like a soak in a hot tub at 100kph.
With only 56,000 kms, Ruby was immaculate, and by far the best vehicle I had ever purchased, as well as the most expensive. I parked Ruby in my driveway and the next morning when I went out to cut the grass, there they sat as a Francophone would say in English, “side by each”, Ruby and The Beast. You knew that was coming, right?
I drove the mower past the shiny new car to the end of driveway and lowered the blade at the point where the gravel meets the grass, and started to cut. My wife tells me she heard the sound of the rock hitting Ruby from inside the house. I didn’t hear it, but I saw the damage as I turned back towards the car. On Ruby’s passenger-side door there was now a dent the size of a loonie. The stone the lawnmower threw at Ruby even took off paint!! I’ve had the car for one day!!! Normally I just add a scratch to other cars I buy, something I can ignore because all used cars have at least one scratch when you buy them. This was different, I had done damage! There was no ignoring the dent and missing paint. It would require an insurance claim. I’m going to feel like an idiot when I explain to the agent what happened. “Yep, yep… I was driving the mower… yep, yep… that’s correct, just one day…”