Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Good Vibrations

I am the proud owner of a Pontiac Vibe. It's a nice little car, roomy enough to haul children around in yet efficient enough for long journeys. It has its quirks - why they decided to put the wiper controls directly behind the steering wheel, rendering them invisible to the driver, is an interesting question - but I like it.

The salesman didn't even have to work to make this sale.

I knew I had to buy a car. I had taken my old Saturn SL2 in for service a couple of weeks earlier, for a collection of little things that had reached critical mass, and the repair guys told me that it needed about $1700 worth of work. "But it's a $400 car!" I said. They then gave me a list of things that were wrong with it - a list that included such words as "collapsing," and "deathtrap." I finally convinced them to let me drive it home, but only by promising them that I would not attempt to take it to my new job at Far Away Campus and would get it replaced within the month.

I also knew I wanted this car. I had spoken with a friend of mine who had one, and she loved hers. I did the consumer research and discovered it to be highly rated by all who rate such things. What else did I need to know?

The whole process was very much like buying a shirt, guy style: "Need shirt. See shirt. Buy shirt. Go home. Watch sports." I walked in to the dealership, pointed at the Vibe on the sales floor and told the salesman, "I want one of those."

Okay, he said. What color?

The girls had wanted a blue one, but those only came with the Sunroof package that was most definitely not worth a thousand dollars to me, so we settled on red. We named it Eric.

Of course it has a name. All cars have names. Our green station wagon is Kermit. The now defunct SL2 was Teresa. My first car, a beige '86 Dodge, was Emilio, the K-Car of Destiny. Do not trust anyone who cannot tell you instantly the name of their car.

You would think that this would be the end of it, but the salesman was just far too well trained not to try to keep selling me on the car anyway. Even after I had signed the contract, he continued to tell me wonderful things about the car, most of them true within the limits of sales hyperbole.

The thing he spent the most time on, oddly enough, was the fact that right on the dash display, underneath the odometer, was a little readout that told you the outside temperature.

"Why on earth would I need this?" I thought. If I've made it to the car, I must, by definition, have passed through the great outdoors to get there. I therefore already know the temperature to the level of accuracy I need to know it. What a useless gizmo.

You know, I am addicted to that little readout. I check it more than I check my speed. I miss it when I am in other, less enlightened vehicles. I think it should be standard equipment on all cars sold in the US, and I am convinced that the current troubles of American car manufacturers are directly attributable to the lack of such readouts on all of their models.

It's my own portable Weather Channel.


tellthestories said...

Hurray for the Pontiac Vibe! Trust me, you get used to the odd location of some of the doodads - and then every other vehicle is odd.

My car doesn't have a name. But she's definitely female.

tellthestories said...

Oh, and wait - how did I not hear about Far Away Campus?