You may remember that on April 10th I rented a car to drive to my son’s house to take care of grandson Noah. The rental car was a red Toyota Yaris. At first sight, I fell in love with this car. The shape is so cute and the color is named Absolutely Red. I loved driving it. The handling and acceleration were great, and the small size just fit me. But when I returned the car to the rental agency, I had no thought of buying a car. I thought, “This worked well. I’ll do this again.”
That was on Monday. On Tuesday I discovered that I had an absolute conviction that I had to own a car. Until that idea took possession of me, I had simply been unable to justify to myself buying and owning a car. Son Michael thought differently, of course; and from the time I got my driver’s license in February, he’s been on my case, “You have to have a car!” So I e-mailed Michael, “I’m ready to buy a car.” He phoned me and told me a website for used cars where I should begin my search.
Meanwhile, I told Ernie that I had decided to buy a car and asked him to tell me how much I should spend, how we should pay for it (cash or finance), and which makes and models to consider. With his and my own research, I narrowed the search to three cars—the Nissan Versa, the Hyundai Elantra, and the Toyota Yaris. Ernie said $10,000, cash, and proceeded to find the cash in some funds that were yielding us virtually no interest. Then Michael took me car shopping. First we went to the Nissan dealership. Here’s Michael getting out of a 2010 Versa.
I drove a 2008 gray Versa. It was an enjoyable experience. If they had found a red, 2-door hatchback Versa, it might have been strictly a cost decision—which car is the best deal. But I definitely did not want an old-lady drab sedan.
Next we went directly to the Toyota dealership so I could make an immediate comparison between the Versa and the Yaris. Now, when I had the rental car, with no thought of buying any car, I had not even looked into the back seat or paid attention to any features except the air conditioning. I just saw what I needed to see to be able to drive it. At the dealership, I did a careful look-see and I became convinced that what I had to have was a red Yaris, just like the one I had rented. “Okay,” said Michael. “We’re going to find you a red Yaris, for $10,000, and less than 40,000 miles.”
He found one in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, about 60 miles away, a 2007 with only 19,000 miles and one owner. It had manual transmission. I was excited. I used to love driving stick shift, many years ago. Great! An old woman with a stick shift, sporty little car. But upon sober reflection, I thought, “Yeah. Fun now. I’m fit and vigorous, but will it be fun six or seven years from now? What condition will my knees be in then?” (Good, presumably, because of all the workouts, swimming, and walking I do.) But, I decided it was probably not a good idea for me to have manual transmission.
Instead, I told Michael, “Change of plans. We’re not going to Carlisle tomorrow. We’re going to Rockville.” There was a red Yaris with 30,000 miles on it. It took us two hours to get there in rush-hour traffic—forty-some miles away, where we saw a car that was not acceptable at the price and Michael brought me back home. He said that if the salesman had taken $1000 off the price, it might have been okay. I drove it. I thought it was okay, but Michael said I could do better. And Michael was in charge.
He told me that the salesman at the Toyota dealership where I’d looked at the Yaris had called him to say that he’d found a 2008 red Toyota-certified Yaris that he could sell for $10,300. Michael told him he’d have to do better than that because he had promised his mother that she would get the car she wanted for no more than $10,000. But he made an appointment for us to see the car on Friday afternoon. And he told me that the certification would be worth paying more for.
The first thing the salesman said to us was that certifying the car would cost $695. He had told Michael that he would show us a certified car for $10,300. Without a word to the salesman, we got into Michael’s car and he brought me home again.
Home again in time to have Happy Hour with Lorraine at the Care Center. I dashed to our apartment, made guacamole, packed up the bottle of wine, wine glasses, chips, etc, and got to Lorraine’s room at my usual time on Fridays. While we were sipping wine and chatting, my phone rang. It was Michael. “JoWynn, are you free tonight?”
He had found a 2008 red Yaris in Alexandria (40-some miles away) that was being offered for $9870. It had 43,000 miles on it. Michael told the salesman about our previous experiences at other dealerships and said that if he could sell the car for $9300, we’d be there to look at it. And if it was as described, I’d buy it. In a few minutes, my phone rang again. “He’ll take $9300, but we’re not going tonight. Too heavy, crazy, Friday traffic. I’ll pick you up at 7:30 in the morning.”
After I had driven the car and we sat down at the salesman’s desk, he put down a print-out of the webpage with the price of the car on it, crossed out the price, and wrote $9300. I bought the car.
Michael was much more determined that I would have the car I wanted than I was. I was willing to settle for a blue Yaris or even for a Versa, if the price was right. I was so aware of how much time and effort Michael had already put into getting me a driver’s license and taking me to look at cars. But he would not stop until he had found me a red Yaris that was within my budget and met my other specifications.
I drove from Alexandria, around the Washington, D.C. beltway to Rockville, for a training session with Anne. After we’d had dinner, I drove back to Charlestown—about 100 miles of driving my car on the day I bought it.