Saturday, May 05, 2012

No, That's Not New Car You're Smelling

Yesterday I did something I've been wanting to do my entire life.

I bought my mother a car.

She is now the proud owner of a
2012 Toyota Corolla LE in Classic Silver Metallic.

The day started out like every other day - with a phone call from my mother. Except this time, I could hear the angst in her voice. Her 1993 Toyota Camry was in the shop, and she wanted to know what we decided to do about it. The day before I had asked the technician to send me the itemized list of what needed to be done, and Ed and I had been mulling it over, but I hadn't given her an answer yet.

The '93 Camry was in generally good condition. A few years ago it got a new paint job, last year the air conditioning system was re-done, and the year before it had some engine work. At nineteen years old, it had only 90,000 miles on it, 3,000 of them put on in the last year. Clearly, the car goes nowhere.

My step-father was always the one who made the decisions on the car repairs and although I didn't always agree with him regarding dumping money into the car (the a/c cost $4400 and the engine stuff the year before, around $4700), he would usually come back with "It has low miles. It runs fine. It doesn't need XYZ. And, it's a Toyota." Apparently, that meant it would last until the apocalypse with only a few fixes and tweaks.
Well, my step-father is now gone and this time the repairs were going to cost $6,052.87. SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS. That may have been fine if they didn't already put over $9,000 into the car in the past year and a half. When Ed and I discussed the repairs and just couldn't come up with a way to do just enough to make the car driveable, knowing that eventually the other repairs would have to be done, Ed dubbed the car a money pit.

So for a day and a half, we discussed. We researched. We made phone calls. We threw our hands in the air. Then Ed said, "You should just buy your mother a new car." That's when the ball started rolling.

Prior to coming to this decision, I had enlisted my friend Kim to take my mother down to the dealership to pick up her car from the shop because Ed and I figured we'd send her home with nothing done to the car and we'd would go back home in the next week to handle everything in person. But now that we decided to buy a new car, Ed said I should call the dealership to find out how much her car would be worth on a trade-in. My mother had no idea this was going on behind the scenes.
I called the dealership and got a nice salesman on the phone who was willing to go over to the shop, look at the car, and tell me what I could get on a trade-in. I was thinking maybe I'd put her in a car that was a few years old that would have less problems, but in the back of my head were my grandfather's words of "buying someone else's headache" when purchasing a used car.

So while Kim and my mother were at lunch, Ed and I finalized the decision that I would just buy my mother a new car. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It was Nike time - Just Do It.

I called Kim to ask her if she could just take my mother to the dealership - not to the service department but to the sales department - meet with the salesman and let my mother just sit in the new car. Then, call me when they were done doing that. When they called after she "test-sat" and then test-drove the car, I told my mother I was buying it. Naturally, she said "Absolutely not." but she didn't know I had a secret weapon - Kim.
Kim is amazing. I've known her for over eight years and every minute has been a joy. We met at a job where we both started as temps. She eventually quit by leaving a post-it note on a computer screen, but that's another (very funny!) story. We've been pretty inseperable since.

I don't throw the term "best friend" around too lightly because really, I only have one - Vicki. Vicki is as close to a soul-mate I've ever come, and she is truly my BEST FRIEND in the entire world - that title can only belong to her. But to call Kim just a friend is not quite enough. So I'll give her the title of being the best friend I have in Arizona, the closest friend I have there, and the person I would first choose to spend any time with outside of Ed and my immediate family.

We clicked from the minute we met and have been laughing ever since. She always texts to see when I'm coming home. She's generous with her time. She's a great listener. She's funny. She's confident. She's assertive. She's smart. And best of all, she loves me. I knew my mother would be in good hands with her.

I made sure Kim was okay with her "lunch date" turning into an afternoon at the dealership, and when she said OK, I let her essentially take my place in the guiding and hand-holding of my mother through this process I knew was going to have my mother's head in a spin.
You have to understand - my mother does NOTHING impulsively. I could tell by the sound of her voice that she was a little anxious. She kept saying "I need my notes" referring to the notes she made regarding the repair of the old car. She didn't have them because she was only planning on lunch and a car pickup - and it was making her a little nervous that now she was going to have to talk to the car dealership people without them in front of her.

My mother is a PhD level note-taker. If it weren't for her excellent powers of observation, her meticulous documentation and her extensive knowledge of drug interaction, medical jargon and medical procedures based on her experience and research, my step-father would have been dead ten years ago. Doctors are impressed with her record-keeping and documentation.

They're a bit of a security blanket, a way to keep all her thoughts organized. They also come in pretty handy when somone says they didn't do or say something - she can easily revert back and say, "Actually, on June 3, 2010 at 2:10pm, I spoke with Oscar in the service department and he said you were sending both cylinder heads to a machine shop to repair the damaged cylinder and then you were going to perform a valve job and replace the valve seals and guides and retest everything." You don't fuck with my mother and her notes.

But I told her she didn't need her notes for this - we'd handle everything - and it was really Kim who kept her freak-out level to a minimum, telling her this purchase was a good thing, to look at it as a brand new start, that everything would be fine. Little does Kim know that my mother wouldn't buy a package of underwear at WalMart without looking at the sales flyers (of every other store in the city), holding the package in her hand twenty times, turning it over to check the price, the cotton content, the colors, and then likely put it back on the shelf saying, "Eh, I don't need underwear right now. I'll get them next week." Like I said, not an impulsive person at all.

Not only did Kim keep her calm, but she kept her laughing - I don't even want to get into the part about their bout of farting that apparently left the salesman's office filled with a noxious cloud. They didn't care, they just laughed to the point of not being able to breathe. Or maybe that was the fart odor?

By the end of the day, all the papers had been signed, Kim kept in touch with me throughout the whole process via text and phone calls, and then I got the final text that they were on their way home. My mother in her new car, Kim following her to make sure she didn't hit anything.
I didn't start the day anticipating buying a new car but the thrill in my mother's voice made it well worth it. When she went to show my brother and nephews, she got even more of a boost at their jumping for joy. Her grandsons thought she was "cool", asking her to put the pedal to the metal when they went for the first ride with her last night. Little do they know that her version of pedal to the metal gets them up to about twenty-seven miles an hour.

I can't wait to see the car in person. My mother loves it and from what I've read in the
brochure, I'm impressed too. The car even has Bluetooth; of course, my mother calls it Blue Chip, but she'll come around.
I wouldn't have been able to complete this transaction with the help of my friend Kim - for physically being there with my mother through the uncomfortable, impulsive, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants moments, alternately laughing and comforting, and even giving the dealership a little hell during the negotiation process. A million billion kajillion thanks to you! Love you, honey!

And finally, but most importanly, I have to thank my sweet, sweet Eddie. Without him, I would not have learned how to do this amazing job so well, and would not be in the position to be able to purchase a vehicle for my mother. His business acumen and financial smarts have allowed me to do something I have only dreamed about. He is truly the best and I love him too....a million, billion, kajillion times over.
Now I just have to get my mother to take the car on the open road...even if it requires a kidnapping, a brainwashing and professional, mental institution-level restraints.

There's exploring to be done!

16 comments:

Gil said...

What a good daughter you are. I think that you will be getting a call in a week or so from someplace in Sullivan County or from the Mohegan Sun Casino!

Belledog said...

Mother's Day comes a week early.

Beautiful car, and a good longterm decision.

You turned out well. Your mom is probably even prouder of that than the new ride.

Best to you and Eddie.

ELH said...

Salena, you truly are a "gem" of a daughter..you will have that awesome feling of knowing that your mother will have safe,dependable,reliable transportation for a great many years, and she will think of you everytime she fires that beauty up..

MAE said...

What has a mother done to deserve the loving generosity of such a beautiful daughter, inside and out?
Your mother probably feels like God and the angels have truly touched her life. Love you lots.

june in florida said...

What a great Mothers Day gift, is there nothing you guy's can't accomplish from your drivers seat?

Anonymous said...

How very nice of you for Mommy!!
Good going.
Greggie

Evil Pixie said...

That is so fabulous that you got Mum a new car. I did the same thing a few years ago, and it felt so good to do. She was so happy, and I know your mum is probably busting with joy.

dixie said...

So happy for Toni. Maybe now she can travel some. I'm driving to Texas for Mothers' Day.

Rita said...

That was so sweet of you and Ed.

The Daily Rant said...

GIL: I’d pee my pants if she went further than the corner at this point!

BELLEDOG: I think the Toyota was a good call - she definitely loves the new ride. And thanks for all the other nice stuff you said. **blush**

ELH: Thanks, but let’s not get crazy…I’m not ALWAYS a “gem”. LOL I do feel good knowing that she’s driving around in something safe and reliable. She’s been talking about wanting something with “airbags” for years….now she’s got six of them…it’s like riding in a balloon.

MAE: She’s done more than I can ever repay. SHE is the real angel.

JUNE: I’m shocked that I got all this done with a few phone calls (and the help of my friend!)

GREGGIE: It’s about time, right? I know she won’t be drying tortillas on the hood of this one! I think I can probably milk this purchase for a few years. LOL!

PIXIE: So you know the feeling! I was so happy to be able to do it and she IS bursting with joy!

DIXIE: She’s not likely to drive the distances you do, but I’m hoping she’ll break out a little!

RITA: Thanks. If my Eddie didn’t push me and help me get it done, I don’t know that it would have become a reality.

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