Archive for November, 2008

No longer the owner of the worst car in America

November 27, 2008

Car buying is like taking the SATs.  You prepare, you study, sometimes you get together with friends and share tactics or quiz each other.  Then you sit down to take the test, you’re excited and want to jump right in.  You give an snarky smile to the first few questions thinking, “I own this test”, but soon you start hitting harder ones and the realization hits you that maybe you’re not as prepared as you thought you were.  After a few sections, you are psyched for that break when you can talk to your friends about the test but soon realize with both anxiety and disappointment that everyone had a different section than you.  Finally you get back to it and by the end you’re thinking, “Whatever, this sounds good… circle, circle, circle”.

That is pretty similar to my recent car buying experience.  I was excited doing research on edmunds.com, chatting with co-workers and friends who had good insight, and getting out and about test driving cars.  But then I get to a dealership where the woman says to me, “You know, you own the worst car in America right now.”  I giggled at her statement but then in a split second changed to an “Oh s**t” face.  I did (key word) own a Chrysler Pacifica.  Gas guzzling SUV crossover made by a company that might not be in existence next week put me in a horrible bargaining position.  The voices start to change after this ranging anywhere from ones of people offering to put my car in a lake (would have made for an awesome story) to family and friends who were trying to balance being supportive and not calling me stupid (By the way, everything friends and family said was spot on.  The information and gentle nudges helped tremendously.  I just needed to figure out what worked best for me.).  
So this week I got back out there again and ended up buying a car.  Talking with a good salesman he threw out an offer.  I told him it was decent but that I needed to think about it.  An hour later, I show back up and threw back a offer that cut his down payment in 2/3rds and his monthly by close to $30 thinking they would never take it.  Well crap, I either didn’t undercut it enough or they were just looking to close a deal.  5 minutes before closing time, I had a deal and a car.
Two Days Later…
The dealership let me take the car home for the Thanksgiving holiday with the agreement that I’d return on Friday to complete the paperwork.  I show up, have a seat in the financial guys office and he says, “Well I’ve got some news for you”.  He proceeds to tell me that apparently financing rejected the lease agreement.  It wasn’t my credit, it was the economy, he explained.  For $500 more I’d have a car and a lower monthly payment.  
I don’t bargain well.  I’m not the best negotiator with people I don’t know.  I can work through a negotiation between two other people no problem when they’re at each other’s throats about what time the alarm goes off in their room.  I’ve now come to understand that wheelin‘ and dealin‘ cars isn’t my strong suit.
But I don’t like to be messed with either.  And that’s all that’s going through my head when he starts talking about, “Well do you have family who can loan you the money?”  “Could you come up with it at a later date?”  Both of which I stick to my guns and say that I just couldn’t pull that cash together in any guaranteed amount of time.  Then he says, “What about a different car?”  FLAG ON THE PLAY- Bait and Switch, on the dealership, 450 mile penalty, time to go.  I start turning the tables back on him saying something to the effect of that this isn’t all going smoothly and I’m ready to take the Pacifica back.  They can take the car with 450 miles on it and now that I now you all can go lower, I’m a little concerned that I got the best deal out of this.  He leaves, comes back, closes the door, shakes my hand, and says, you’ve got the lower monthly payment.  
Now watch, soon I get a job in a big city and I don’t even need a car.
Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  Thanks for reading!
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Support for a reader

November 16, 2008

You have probably seen by now the wildfires in California that are getting way to close to residential areas.  If you have a moment, please say a prayer or keep in your thoughts an old co-worker of my sister’s who is a reader of this blog.  Heard that she and her family had to be evacuated from thier house today but have already been let back.  To Yvonne and all those affected by the fires, my family’s thoughts and prayers are with you.  We’d love to give you some of the cold and snow we’re getting out here but I don’t think I’m in that good with the big guy upstairs!  

Daylight come and he wan’ go home!

November 16, 2008

I’m sure that you have a ton of Thanksgiving stories just like my family.  I know it’s not quite Thanksgiving yet but I wanted to get this story out to my family before the craziness of the holiday hit.  When I was around 10 or 12 years old, my family would head over to my great Aunt Lona and Uncle Mike’s apartment for dinner.  My Aunt Lona is a big singer and my Uncle Mike is a big collector.  What he collects are old TV shows, old movies, and other things on television.  One of the rooms to their apartment was dedicated to all his tapes.  It was like an early version of blockbuster with things categorized and videos from floor to ceiling.  It was amazing as a kid to see that amount of tapes.  The only problem was that they were Betamax tapes and we know what happened to those.  

After dinner would finish, my brother and I would ask him to go find a certain video that we, as kids, found hilarious.  So Mom, Dad, Chris, Amy, Aunt Lona, and Uncle Mike, do you remember this:
My brother and I would huddle around the TV, cheering for this thing to come on, and three minutes later, my mom and dad probably downed a quick shot to get themselves ready for the non stop singing of this song for the next three hours.  
The last time we were there, if I remember correctly, the tape continued.  Again, my brother and I were probably 11 and 12, Amy was 6 or 7.  My parents and others had diverted their attention back to the table and we were just continuing to watch.  Anyone ever seen the movie Porky’s?  We did that night!  Well, up until one of the more graphic and loud parts when everyone realized what else was on that video.  I can remember my mom’s high pitched “Oh my God” muffled by her hands covering her mouth followed by my dad’s laughter.  Then Uncle Mike gently and calmly walked over and removed the tape.  Day-O was never to be played again, until now:-)
To all my friends and family, an early happy Thanksgiving.  Thank you for all the laughter, smiles, good times, good memories, and support.  

Happy Halloween

November 1, 2008

Let me get something out of the way at the beginning here- Me and Halloween have never really gotten along.  Bad things always seem to happen on Halloween ranging from the days of eggs and shaving cream to the current days of horrible duty calls.  In this, the last Halloween of my 20s, I was determinded to turn things around.  

A little Spain family history of Halloween.  My Mom and Dad were pretty darn awesome in developing costumes for us.  As a youngster, it was anything from clowns to superman (I know there’s a classic clown picture out there that I’m sure my brother will ask me to take down out of embarassment).  In the teenage years, it was all about Alf, along with some old outfits from my grandparents.  If you don’t know the show, check it out on YouTube and see some classic sitcom comedy, not any of that Hannah Montana stuff filling children’s heads today (NOTE: With that line, I recognize that I just leaped into the crochety adult stage of my life).  Even with the allergies to a lot of candy, Halloween would take a positive spin when we’d sit down and I’d get to pick good stuff from my brother and sister’s bag in return for the chocolate and nuts.  
This determination didn’t really start though until today.  For the past week, as the people in my office can attest to, I’ve been the Scrooge of Halloween.  They’ve tried to turn my spirits around by putting random decorations on my door, but I usually responded with “I haaaaaaate Halloween!”  Now, I didn’t have a dream moment in which the three ghosts of Halloween, but I did realize that it’s going to take a change on my end to turn these Halloween’s around.  So I bought a costume, joked about wearing it to work on Friday, and started off Halloween dressed as a gladiator.  
I’ve got to say, this was the first Halloween in a lot of years that something bad didn’t happen.  Unless you consider the following picture:

The plan was for me to act like I was lifting up my outfit while giving a “cute” face.  Instead, it looks like I’m blowing a kiss while getting into a sumo stance.  So as a peace offering to the Halloween spirits, I show this picture to the world to provide many more Halloween holidays.  Thanks to all those around me this Halloween (and in years past) who’ve made it a good time.  I think it’s going to start a good trend.