Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Buying a new car

I knew kids were expensive. Really, I did. I’d heard it all over and seen the studies about how a baby born this year will cost a quarter of a million dollars to raise (without college or private education). And so our first major expense hit us – the family sedan, which I’m thinking is probably not captured in the 250K. And maybe you’d agree that it shouldn’t be. Here’s why I’m going ahead and counting it…

For the last (almost) 10 years, I’ve driven a Toyota Corolla. I’m just under 5’6, so this is just fine for me. I think I probably drive with the seat back about as far as it goes, but it works – I wouldn’t put it back further. Two and a half years ago, I married a man who is about 6’4. So if I’ve got the seat at its furthest back setting, try to think where another 8 inches of legroom is going to come from? When he drives my car, it looks like there should be 34 clowns coming out of the back doors and a harpo horn on the wheel. His knees come up around the steering wheel and his head practically touches the ceiling – he somehow always seems crunched and squashed in there.

We thought about a new car before the baby arrived (mine is old and is starting to have its issues), but then didn’t want to spend the money. Then the baby came and we were always in my husband’s car (I never seemed to drive anywhere). It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that we installed the car seat and all got in my car. It was then that we realized that the car seat is too big to even allow the seat to go all the way back (so even I’m cramped in the front). It’s wide enough that, when in the middle, neither seat can go back – and we realized that with the seat anywhere other than its furthest back setting, my husband doesn’t fit in the front seat. Now you might ask – didn’t he not fit before? But no, before he squished in uncomfortably. Now… it seems his femur is too long. Beyond that – it seems that I barely fit! I’m starting to resemble his old clown car pose in the seat! You see, our car seat is very big. We had to get this big one (Britax infant companion) because my husband had asked the fire fighters in charge of the car seat program which was the best / safest / etc. (I’d still like to note that they said that this was the ‘best’ one but that they generally had the Graco themselves as it was really good and a third the price…) Anyway, as we squished ourselves to head out we realized that though the baby might be very safe in case of an accident in this “safest possible” car seat – she might also be an orphan as we were too stuffed in and sardine like to survive.

So we had to break down and get a new car. Ugh.

As I’m the type of person who drives a Corolla for 10 years you can imagine I wasn’t too concerned on the car – I wanted safe and fuel efficient (and the lowest price you could get for those). In a perfect world, I’d also like a sunroof and heated seats – but even in a perfect world that happens after we’ve saved enough for college tuition… So I basically left the decision to my husband (something that greatly amused my mother as in my loud spoken teenage years I’d apparently made a point about how I wouldn’t let my husband make all my decisions and suggested that she let my Dad make too many. Yeah, I must have been a real joy to live with… I’d argue or defend this, but whatever – please just don’t make me look at too many cars.). Given that, we were able to decide on a car pretty quickly and decided to look at Accords. As my Mom was gone, we wound up taking the baby with us when we went to buy it.

Though we knew which car we wanted and had a quote from the dealer – car buying NEVER takes less than 3 or 4 hours. And, it’s technically possible that we still wanted to haggle that internet quote. Maybe… ;) So we went into the dealer and started to go through what we wanted at what price. The dealer inched down slightly from his high. We stuck by our price. He inched a little more. We told him we’d buy it today at our price. He got his manager. We waited. We waited longer. As he kept us waiting, my husband said – hmm, now would be a really good time for the baby to start crying… hint. She’d been asleep for awhile and was being remarkably good. But I knew she’d be getting hungry soon – and really I should feed her before we left. So I said, well, I could wake her up – but you know that means I’ll have to feed her here / now. Of course they came back right as we were taking her out of the car seat! (foiled again) They finally agreed to a price $100 more than we asked (ugh, car dealers!) and went to get the paperwork. So I threw on the wrap and started feeding her. The manager came over to shake our hands and as he reached out to me, he suddenly realized what I was doing. You never saw a car dealer get so embarrassed! He practically ran away. Trying to be a good salesman, though, he came back a few minutes later to ask my husband if he wanted a drink. As he was going to run away again, I called after – um, I’d like a glass of water too, please. When he brought it over he told me he hadn’t asked as he thought I was… busy. Oh sheesh.

Anyway, we now have a new car. Except that’s not how I say it. For the next several months, I will ONLY refer to it in game show voice – my NEW car!

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