Over the last two years, my mother’s car has been resuscitated more times than a soap opera star with a negotiable contract. Someone should have told my mom to sign a DNR order for her car at the time of purchase, which may have spared her the expense, along with the emotional damages to be incurred by its future mystery ailments, any and all of which we were blissfully ignorant of when the keys to that curse fell into my mother’s hands. Had such an option been available, I would not have spent a good part of today acquiring writing material from used car lots.
Things did not look promising from the very first stop, where not a soul stepped outside to offer us assistance. Car salespeople materialize and vaporize in a way opposite of what customers want, so be sure to look completely uninterested if you want to speak with one about a car. Okay, not a big deal. Another lot awaited us just down the road, so off we went. An elderly salesman wearing blue jeans and a purple dress shirt approached us.
“Hi. See anything here you’d like to drive?”
“How much is that Honda over there?” I asked, standing about four cars down the row from what appeared to be a nice little gold car.
“How much you lookin’ to spend?”
“Well, let’s look around first, and then we’ll talk price.” He looked at me like I had just spoken in Eye-talian. The truth was, he couldn’t hear a damn word I said.
“How much you lookin’ to spend?”“We’d like to look at that one on the end!” I yelled.
While he went after the key, we walked to the car so Mom could take a better look. The salesman returned and handed us the key just as we were taking stock of the Honda’s flat tire and dangling front bumper. For some reason, my mother lost interest. I had no idea why she was being so picky when I had plenty of Fix-A-Flat and Duck tape at home.
The day was still young when we drove to the next place, which was located atop a hill steep enough to make a mountain goat shudder. All of the cars were lined up along the edge of what appeared to be a cliff. We pulled onto the gravel lot to take a look around. A gentleman dressed in a white T-shirt and faded denim overalls promptly greeted us, accompanied by his sidekick, a portly white bulldog. I think his name was Earl. I’m not sure what the man’s name was. Anyway, my mother found an older Ford to test drive.
“Now, do y’all want to go on a short drive or a long drive?” Overalls asked. We just looked at him quizzically.
“Well, the reason I’m asking is because this car here’s about outta gas. Y’all can go put gas in it if you want, but I’ll just be watching from here in case you run out.”Next!
After a brief lunch break, we pressed on. Apparently lunch had not ended for everyone. I knew this because we visited another local lot where the only two employees sat in the office eating grease burgers and fries, and remained there as Mom and I perused the vehicle selection. After finally catching on that no one wanted to sell us a car, I approached the dining sales staff and inquired about a Volvo. One of the men tossed me the key, without ever abandoning his lunch. I returned only moments later with the key.
“The car won’t start.”
“You want us to jump it for you?” one of them said with a full mouth.I handed him the key and offered to tell him where to clamp the cables.
Finally, at a tiny cramped lot, we thought we had hit pay dirt. Mom had her eye on a steel grey Chevy.
“Now that’s a nice car,” the salesman informed us. Good thing he said so, because we hadn’t heard that line from ten other men already. Mom asked all the important questions while I stood by, skeptical, but hopeful. Things sounded great until she asked for the key.
“Oh, we don’t have the key to this one.” The car had just been repossessed. I pictured my mother with her hands around this guy’s throat and decided we were done for the day.
By the end of the adventure I didn’t care if my mother bought herself a skateboard for transportation. At that point I would have sprung for all of her safety gear. I couldn’t take one more guy with bad hair and bad manners. Salesmen from Dogpatch to the Hood had tried to sell us a car, each with great excuses for high prices and low inventory. I have never appreciated my own vehicle more than I did today. The last stop we made was to buy my mother a newspaper so she could comb the classifieds. I tried to negotiate with the dispenser, but the price was firm at fifty cents.