Monday, February 21, 2011

"Wheeling" and Dealing


This weekend, while most people were nesting indoors from torrid rains, I was selling cars. Two of them, in fact; one was my '99 Rav4 that was Blue-Booked at $2100 and needed $2500 worth of repairs. Pretty much a no-brainer. Buh-bye.

But getting rid of the other car was more difficult. It was my mother's 2004 Corolla and the car that I inherited when she passed away. Despite being a fine little car with great gas mileage, I've never been comfortable claiming it as "mine." Every time I sat behind the wheel, I'd look at the passenger side and expect to see Mom's smiling face. I'd remember our Sunday afternoons tootling off for yet another lunch at Alberto's, family dinner at Jenny's, or movie matinee. And I'd feel that now-familiar ache and miss my best friend--my mother--for the umpteenth time.

How could I enjoy this car, given how it came to be mine?

So I sold it.

But before doing so, I asked the buyer if I could keep the personalized license plates. Bearing my mother's maiden name, de Roux, the plates brought back a more pleasant memory: the day she phoned me, roaring with evil delight.

Seemed she had just gotten off the phone with her older brother who was angry. Boy, was he ANGRY. Seemed he'd submitted a request for personalized license plates and had been denied by DMV. Seemed somebody else had already claimed the name. His name.

"Who else in this country has my name?" he seethed to Mom."de Roux is French! It's not a common name like Smith or Jones, for gawd's sake. Who is the sonofabitch that stole my name?"

To which, barely containing her laughter, she replied, "Uh, that would be me."

The car is now gone and with it, another remnant of mom. But the license plate will hang in my garage--a reminder of her wicked glee the day she trumped her brother.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Letter to Toyota

Dear Toyota~

Yeah, you've had some really lousy PR lately, what with malfunctioning brakes and stuck gas pedals. Those drivers, picky, picky, picky. But hey, at least you're in a position to ramp up the one thing within your immediate control: customer service. Right?

Which is why I am just slightly dismayed at the treatment I received yesterday at your Dublin Toyota dealership. Now, I realize that I'm just a purdy lil' thang without two brain cells to bang together, but I'm pretty darned sure that English is my first language. And, unless I was suddenly overcome by The Spirit and speaking in tongues, English is what I using when attempting to communicate with your sales force.

"I'm here to test drive and check prices only," I told Scott. "I'm buying a used car next month and if you're straight with me today, I will return and buy that car from you." And I meant it.

But apparently Scott learned everything he knows about selling cars from endless viewings of the aptly named movie, "Suckers." Immediately he steered me to a brand new Rav4, insisting that old cars are nothing but trouble and I had to try this beaut because the color looked great on me.

Really. I'm going to spend $23,000 on a car because the color compliments my skin tone?

"How is it a babe like you isn't married," Scott asked upon learning that I was checking out cars all by my big-girl self and without benefit of a male escort. "And hey, you've got beautiful hair. No seriously, I mean it."

Why sir, you're making me blush! I was so darned flattered by Scott's genuine sincerity, I could almost overlook his reptilian behavior.

"Almost" being the operative word.

Finally, he showed me a used Rav4 with more mileage than Amtrak. When I balked, he accused me of having "issues" with old things. "What's wrong with a little mileage?" he argued. "You just buy the extended warranty!"

"Well then, Scott, if old things are so swell, why wouldn't I just keep my current Rav4?" I asked. He looked befuddled. Then he disappeared and returned with the Big Guns: the General Manager.

"What's it gonna take for you to buy a car today?" he asked me. To which I looked him square in the eye and replied that he could be Jesus Christ Himself, announcing that the Second Coming was contingent upon me buying a car today and a sale still wouldn't happen.

My, how attitudes changed. I left the dealership with a raging migraine and I'm pretty darned sure Scott had one, too.

But I do have to say one thing: when it comes to strong arm tactics, Neanderthal attitudes and repugnant dispositions, Dublin Toyota is sticking by their motto and "doin' it right."

Plus, they think I'm pretty! Because really, would a car salesman lie?
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