Look at the tailpipes on that one

Posted on September 17, 2013

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Several months ago, I passed the major life milestone of purchasing a car from a dealer for the first time. On reflection and comparing it to other life milestones — puberty, going to prom, getting told by my sixth-grade geography teacher that I was a disappointment to her — I would have to say it ranks pretty high on the trauma scale. While going through the whole experience, I was struck by how much it reminds me of another life achievement — the mating process.

One of the first steps anyone wants to take when finding a potential car (or mate) is doing some research. What brand of car do I want? Four-cylinder or V6? Sunroof? How does she feel on the road? As users of online dating sites can attest, one can weed through thousands of profiles using similar criteria. What interests does this girl have? Blond or brunette? Religious? How does she feel on the road? (Heyo!)

Romancing the G6

Romancing the G6

In my case, I was looking for a used car that could reliably get me to work, something not too nice but not a complete beater. I eventually found one I was interested in — a Pontiac G6 with low mileage at a dealership in Schaumburg. I called them, and we set up a meeting. The first date was on!

You can tell a lot from the first in-person encounter that you could never discern from an online profile. Even though a car might look fine from the pictures, and the Carfax report checks out (I wish they had those for people), there could be electrical problems or, after taking it for a test drive, something might just not feel right. For cars and people, gut feelings are big red flags. Luckily for me, my test drive went well, everything seemed right (I would find out later the car needed several thousand dollars of wear-and-tear work — I should’ve signed a prenup!), so I decided to take it to the next level and begin long-term negotiations.

After deciding to purchase the G6, my salesman, Kevin, told me that I needed to write a check of a low dollar amount, about a hundred dollars, so he could take it to the dealership owner on the other side of the room as “a show of good faith” to mean I was serious. This struck me as kind of odd, almost like an old-fashioned way of proving your financial stability to the father of a fair lady in order to win his approval. Only instead of receiving her dowry, I would be signing over a chunk of my life savings to this man.

I began writing the check, and Kevin goes, “That’s fine, that’s good enough, let me show him.” I had barely written the date. I guess Kevin could just tell I was a serious suitor. Kevin does his razzle-dazzle numbers display, showing me how much the car would be with the warranty, to get it certified, to see it in a pink negligee before taking her home (a word to the wise — eat something before you buy a car; all the numbers start to blur together when your stomach is churning), and before long I was ready to sign the check for the full amount.

A lot of thoughts raced through my mind before I signed away that amount of money. I was going to be with this car for a very long time. Was I sure it was the best decision I could’ve made? Should I have waited longer? Oh my God, what if she snores? But in the end, I decided to go with my instincts and buy it. In the instant I signed the check, I’m pretty sure I experienced several life milestones combined — I had a mini heart attack and my testicles dropped a couple inches.

Looking back on it now, I definitely made the right decision. The G6 and I have been happily together for several months, and I can’t imagine myself with another car. My advice to anyone thinking about starting down this path would be to definitely do your research beforehand, and don’t let the salesperson try to sell you a more expensive vehicle. And, if they ask you for a half made-out check to prove your intentions, just go to CarMax instead.

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Posted in: Lincoln Square