Buying a car

O faithful readers, please forgive my long absence.  In starting a new business I have neglected the exercise of writing for enjoyment.  Hope to get back into the habit, and appreciate your patience while I was otherwise occupied.

The tragic death of our 1991 Toyota Previa in January made us a one-car family of four.  Using more public transportation is generally a good thing, as is better planning of errands and shopping trips.  With working adults and two kids in high school, however, we would have been stuck but for family, friends, and neighbors who loaned us vehicles when we needed one.  (We especially appreciated the use of Susan’s parents’ car while they were out of town.)  It takes a village, don’t you know.

A few cars on Craigslist – including the one we bought – sounded promising.  Along the way we looked at one that provided a caveat emptor lesson, and a good little story…

It was dark and pouring rain when Susan and I pulled alongside a car waiting in the grocery store parking lot where we’d arranged to meet.  After identifying ourselves to the guy inside, the car door opened and a pair of white leather shoes with buckles emerged.  I knew immediately we weren’t going to buy that car.

We’re not usually willing to judge on the basis of appearances, but there’s something to be said for first impressions.  A shirt unbuttoned halfway down the guy’s chest was strike two for us.  We did the obligatory walk around the car, and Susan spotted and asked about the dealer plates (we’d only looked at ads for private sales).  “Oh, I guess I should have mentioned that I’m an agent for a dealer.”  Yes, you should’ve.

I drove the car and Susan checked things out in the back seat.  “What do you know about the owners?” she inquired.  “They live in Tacoma, and they’re real nice people.”  Okey dokey.  The seller had told me in a text message the car got 27 mpg; when I asked him about gas mileage during the test drive, he said it all depends on how you drive.

Susan continued her sleuthing in the back seat.  “Why is this carpet wet?”  “Oh – some friends were sitting back there, and their feet were probably wet from the rain.”  Even halfway up the front of the seat?

The car was a nice ride – very smooth.  But certain kinds of ‘smooth’ feel like we’re being taken for a ride, and this was one of those.  “We can head back to the grocery store,” I told the seller.  “I think we have all the information we need.”  And thanks for the ride.


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