My wife and I just bought a new car. Well, actually, we’re leasing it.
That’s like getting married on the three-year divorce plan: Enjoy the new spouse’s Chanel or Axe (new car aroma), his/her X-Sport membership (excellent service contract), and his/her Laptop Lite (state-of-the-art technology) for three years. When the Chanel cloys, the membership expires, and the computer’s planned obsolescence kicks in, time to upgrade to a new bouquet, svelte maintenance plan and transformed gadgetry.
My troubles began when researching the best price. I clicked on a website that led to my singin’ the blues:
Oh, baby, I got the blues, / Blockin’ all the happy hues. / Once I Googled U.S. News / and World Report, the fuse / was lit, forced me to choose / between my sanity and loose screws / with so many multitudes / of offers impossible to refuse: / emails, calls, and voicemails’ obtuse, / it all added up to dealership abuse.
See, after Googling the best price for compact SUVs on the U.S. News and World Report site, a variety of dealerships cropped up. Thinking, “Great, I’ll surreptitiously find their best prices without having to contend with robotic handshakes, manufactured smiles, and turgid dialogue.”
Within one minute of pressing Send, the phone rang. It was 8:30 p.m., half an hour past my bedtime.
“Hello, Richard? Mike McDeal here from Shove-It Motors. How are you tonight?”
“Great, great. Listen, Richard, got your email requesting information on our best-selling, undervalued, super-rated, newly conceived compact SUV, the Pathogen.”
“I wasn’t expecting your call.”
“Terrific, Ricardo. Here at Shove-It we have a binary deal going right now, offering you – ”
“This is really abusive.”
“Super, Richie. See, the deal is no money down, zero percent for 36 – ”
“Goodbye. Don’t call ...”
“Fabulous, Dick. Or one thousand seven hundred dollars off list price –”
I hung up and was brushing my teeth when the next call erupted. Next morning, my emails and voicemails were fuller than a mid-April Fox River.
Two weeks after we brought our car home, the invasion continued.
On a brighter note, I’m enjoying our new lease – except for the safety features, for which we paid extra. For example, it won’t let me eat my morning cereal on the way to school without the “stay in your lane, dufus!” alarm disturbing my meal, the auto-correct (no pun intended) yanking the steering wheel right or left to straighten a slight divergence, my spoonful of Desert Winds Febrile Blueberry-Pebbled Alpine Moss Granola spilling on the sun deck console and skin soft upholstery.
Worse, if I want to change lanes as an 18-wheeler quietly creeps up alongside me, my “blind spot and what, are you deaf?” alarm displays in the side-view mirror a tiny orange car while bells tintinnabulate like E.A. Poe’s worst nightmare, and Siri screams through Bluetooth speakers, “Look out, you idiot! Pay attention to what you’re doing, and I don’t mean penciling down ideas for a poem!”
Sure, I’m a better driver for all these mechanical directives, but now I know how commercial airline pilots feel when they engage the auto-pilot, longing for their Mach-10 fighter jet joystick.
I’d just settle for cruise control.
Rick Holinger lives in Geneva and teaches at Marmion Academy. A collection of his columns, “Kangaroo Rabbits and Galvanized Fences,” is forthcoming.