127 - Tempted

I stood on the edge of a cliff and looked down knowing there were only two options... I could retreat to the safety of what I know, or I could embark on a new adventure. I dove into the nothingness of the unknown and let myself be consumed by it, exhilerated by the feeling of my reckless abandon...

About halfway into the abyss I realized this was wrong. I pulled the cord, letting the chute billow out to slow my descent. I began to glide toward the walls of the chasm. There I found a rope, and I used it to pull myself back up to the edge, my head clearing with every advance I made toward the familiar. I survived my ordeal, and I had a new appreciation for what was right there in front of me all along.

That's exactly what it was like.

This afternoon, after more research and number crunching, I took Trixie in to get an oil change, a visor repaired, the tires aired up, and the coolant sensor replaced. I told her that this might be the last time we saw each other. I told myself she was just a car, she was not a person. I was numb.

While I waited for the oil change, I met with a salesman and he herded me into a new Mazda 3 iTouring, hoping to entice me with the new car smell. I turned the ignition off and moved the conversation back into the showroom. I told him I would take a test drive once the numbers were on the table and I knew it was what I wanted to do. I was honest -- I was very much on the fence and didn't want to make a decision tonight. I told him I wanted to see what my monthly payment would be after they screwed me on the trade-in (I paraphrase). He had his associate -- what is known as 'a smooth talker' -- come to the table and show me the deal. The deal was good but I maintained my position -- I didn't want to make a decision tonight. He offered to sweeten the deal. I was honest -- I didn't want to waste his time, because I was still going to walk away and think about it before I decided on a course of action. He said no problem, let him see what he could do and then I could decide. He thought I was playing coy.

These numbers were even more tempting. $0 down. $125 less/month than what I currently pay. Savings on gas. Free oil changes. 2.9% APR. No payments for 3 months. I faltered. I asked if my extended warranty would be refunded on a pro-rated basis, he said that could be included as a down payment. I lost my mental faculties and took the test drive. Alone. When did they start allowing you to take the car out by yourself?

It was fun. The car had pep to it. I was zipping along the twisty bits I would enjoy on my morning commute if there were no other cars on the road with me. I could let the car shift for me, or I could switch to manual mode and bump the gears up or down. I admit, it was exhilarating. But without the clutch it felt weird. I wasn't driving the car, I was just steering a box. I did enjoy smoking people at the green lights though... oh how I enjoyed that!

I came back, still on the fence, but my nasal passages were now full of new car smell. I looked at Trixie. I looked at the anonymous car. I looked at the numbers. I looked at Trixie again. And I repeated that cycle for several minutes. No -- she's just a car. It felt like I was betraying my best friend, but I decided to go for it. It was logical... I could save money, I could save on gas... I was so close to yes. I filled out a form, it was so easy, but I wasn't excited, I was nervous and conflicted. He took it to the finance guy to run my credit, leaving me alone. I had time to think... and as I thought... staring me in the face was a poster of an RX8... not helping...

I got up, went outside and sat down inside Trixie. It was the only way I was going to know... The cockpit felt like a hug. The other car's seat was so high up, the window so far away. The controls looked cheap compared to Trixie's... spread out... unfamiliar. The stereo wasn't as powerful. I realized I hadn't even looked in the fucking trunk!

I was still debating with myself... was this the right thing to do or was I doing it because I wanted a quick fix? I can afford the payments, I just wanted extra money to put toward a house... but would $1,200 a year in savings for two years be worth much in the long run?... Not on a home loan where a thousand dollars is worth roughly $10/month... The reality of it finally hit me... I didn't want to do this. I've only had her for three years, but it's the longest I've ever owned a car before I traded it in. I know it sounds melodramatic, but that's when I started to cry.

The salesman came to get me. I told him I was sorry... I didn't think I could do it (after I sobbed and hiccuped a couple of times). He said it was alright, a lady came in to trade a car she inherited from her father and she broke down, too. He said it's hard to let a car go... it's been a part of my life for three years. I thought he understood that the deal was off. I thought he was leading me to his manager to tell him so, but I guess my indecisive words didn't sink in. Instead he led me to the finance guy who stood up to greet my bloodshot eyes and runny nose... to his credit, he looked slightly unnerved. The salesman introduced us and said he'd take care of the paperwork. I said, "I'm not doing it. I can't sell her. I'm sorry." He looked stunned. The finance guy looked stunned. He grabbed the manager. He tried to tempt me by further sweetening the pot -- what if we could work more magic with the numbers? What if the numbers stayed the same but the $500 from my extended warranty came back to me as cash? I told him it wasn't about the money. I appreciated the deal they'd gotten me, and I'm sorry I wasted their time -- but I loved my car. He asked if I'd had any problems with the engine... the rotary sometimes floods...

WHAT? You sold me that car! Well, not you, but this dealership... this Mazda dealership... don't start bad mouthing your own product to try to get me to buy a new car! And the engine is covered for 10 years thank you very much -- you know that! It kind of hit me then that I shouldn't feel bad for walking away. They were ready to say anything to get me to buy a car. They didn't care how upset I was. I didn't want to believe it, but I think you have to leave your soul at home to sell cars!

It took me almost signing her away for me to realize that I don't want another car. This is the first time I've had a car and never looked ahead at what my next car might be. First time I've still been giddy when I see my car. In two years she'll be paid for, and maybe something better will come along, but until then she's my dream car... and the 3 was just a car. A sacrifice. An empty, soulless sacrifice. And it wasn't worth it. After four cars, I've finally found the one for me.

I also realized the power of not needing a new car. When you can say no, and mean it, you have the power. I caved too easily in the past, but now I know phrases like 'advertising budget' and 'overage exception'.

All that said, maybe I could find one of those new car smell air fresheners and get her detailed so I can trick myself into feeling that new car feeling...


  1. doesn't sound to me like you need to trick yourself into anything...GOOD FOR YOU!!!
    I'm glad you stuck by your car. I sold "my" car when I was 25 and I still regret it to this day....You did the right thing :)

  2. Wow. First of all, the beginnging of the post was so descriptively beautiful! And second of all:

    You. Are. My. Hero.

    I am soooo the type of person who would get sucked into that and hate it. Thank you for teaching me a little lesson in saying 'No'!