'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
CAR SHOPPING ADVENTURE
We’re in the market for a new car. By “new” I mean new to us. The last time we were in the market for a new new car was in the B.C. era. (Before Children, back when my wife and I could spend our paychecks on ourselves—a quaint and innocent time, when we thought our financial situation would improve continually with the passing years. Boy, were we naïve.)
The new car we’re looking for now surely will be a number of years old and have many thousands of miles on it. And that’s OK for two reasons: (1) the car will be for our children to drive, and since I’ve driven used vehicles for the last 20 years, even if I win a million dollars in tonight’s lottery drawing, I refuse to buy them a new new car on general principles alone; and (2) since I never buy lottery tickets, I have no chance of acquiring enough money to purchase a new new car, the average sticker price of which these days seems to be right around a million dollars.
We’ve narrowed down what we’re looking for. Since the car will be for our children’s use, we want it to be big and heavy to protect passengers in case of an accident, and preferably four-wheel drive for the snowy season. It must have a lot of cargo room, have a lot of power and acceleration, and get approximately 50 miles per gallon of gasoline. We want it to be in perfect running condition and require no maintenance. We want it to be stylish enough that if I have to use it I won’t feel like a dork, but dorky enough so our children and their friends will never think of it as a cool cruising machine. But most of all, we want the new car to be really inexpensive. I’m thinking in the range of $2,000 or less, including taxes and insurance.
All right, I admit it, I have about the same chance of finding the car I just described as I have of winning a million dollars in tonight’s lottery. (And don’t forget, I never buy lotto tickets.) But like the lottery, sometimes it’s nice to dream.
It doesn’t matter anyway, because when it comes to shopping, I’m an impulse buyer. I dislike the whole ritual of shopping so much—the information gathering, traveling from store to store to make comparisons, the haggling, the crowds, the endless hours—I almost always buy the first thing I see. I spend the same amount of time deciding on small purchases, say, socks or underwear, as I do deciding on big-ticket items, like houses or cars. No, that’s an exaggeration. I usually spend much more time making the right underwear decision than I spend purchasing a car. (After all, one product I sit in a couple hours a day, while the other product I sit in all day long.)
The last time I bought a car about five years ago, I picked out my trusty little Honda Civic in less than 30 seconds. I drove to the dealership and parked in the middle of their used car area. I walked into the showroom and asked the first salesman I saw, “How much for that silver one out there?”
He replied, “Umm, I think that one is $8,200. Would you like to look at some of the other selections?”
“Oh please, no,” I said. “I’ll give you $8,800 for it.”
“Well, wouldn’t you like to take it for a test drive first?”
“Stop badgering me!” I exclaimed. “All right, I’ll give you $9,500, and that’s my final offer!”
So, I just want to alert area car dealers that a very quick sale is about to occur, but don’t blink or you might miss it. And if anyone out there has the car of my dreams available for less than two grand, give me a call. I’ll be home watching TV all evening—holding my winning lottery ticket.
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