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We spar for a car

by Linda Hiller

Given the choice of: A. a sharp stick in the eye, B. an excruciating root canal, or C. buying a used car, I’ll take A or B.

Please!

But every now and then – and in my family we put it off as long as possible – we’re forced to venture out and spar for a car.

This task is left to yours truly if, at some point in my life, I want to drive a vehicle with less than six-digit mileage.

If it were left up to this otherwise grown-up person I am married to, we would drive a vehicle until the wheels fall off and then tearfully bury it when that happened.

The next day, we’d turn around and scour the want ads for any vehicle that stuck out as a diamond in the rough.

“Hi, I’m calling about your ad in the paper for the 1999 Range Rover.”

“Oh, yes, let me tell you about it. My husband bought it new last year and unfortunately he’s unable to drive it now. It says here that he paid … let me get my magnifying glass out … looks like he paid $50 for it.”

“Fifty thousand?”

“No, it just says $50. That’s what he wrote here. I’d like to get $49 for it. I have the title.”

“I-I-I-I’ll be right there with the cash!”

This is the dream that lives inside hubby’s head. The reality is, I can’t think of a deal we’ve EVER gotten on a car that is worth reminiscing over.

“Remember that time we traded the Dodge Dart in on that Volkswagen Rabbit? Remember the deal we got? That was sweet. Pass me some more of those tasty appetizers, will you dear?”

“Hey, remember the time we drove the Honda Accord to the dealership on its last legs and they gave us twice what it was worth? Then, we bought that new Dodge Caravan that we kept until it almost died, and then we sold it at that used car lot on Highway 50? I love you, honey. More champagne?”

I’m told that timing is everything when it comes to buying and selling cars, but the system of it eludes me. Some people religiously buy a new car every year and say their mysterious system makes it so they never have to pay a nickel for any car. Ever! (I think they’re exaggerating.)

I don’t have a system, I just get a feeling. Like last summer, when we had out-of-town company and needed to take two cars to accommodate six people. We then had room for 10, but couldn’t find four people who were free for a picnic on such short notice.

“We need a bigger car,” I said to hubby over the gas pump, while we were fueling both cars.

Having two precious children who drive – one with a license and one with a learner’s permit – I decided that the “bigger car” we needed had to have four-wheel-drive for the three days a year it would be handy. Turns out, the words “reasonable” and “four-wheel-drive” never occur together in the English language.

“You want what and you want to spend how much?” the salespeople ask (mid-guffaw) like I’m speaking Swedish or something.

“We don’t need four-wheel drive – we’ll get chains and kitty litter,” hubby says upon learning of my target vehicle.

You’re not going to get Father of the Year with that attitude, mister.

So after six months of looking, we did find a car, and though they wanted to charge us for repairs on the vehicle even before we’d bought it (that’s another story … I know, business is business … but I digress), we will probably go ahead and take it to get the process over with.

I admit, though, that I’m starting to think about driving our current vehicles until the wheels fall off and then tearfully burying them when that happens. Pass the champagne, dear.