I'm an Adult! or Car Buying for Dummies

Last week was one of the busiest, most stressful weeks that I have encountered in my 31 years of life on this planet. Let me lay out the circumstances: Saturday was the final day of basketball season (for those who don't know, I run a youth sports program for around 700 kids). Basketball is always my most stressful season and the final week of any season is always bonkers so this was the busiest week of the year for me. In addition, every being in my house that is not me was sick. Not, like, bleeding from the eyes sick but under the weather enough to impact the overall effectiveness of our household. So much coughing, you guys. On top of that, I had foolishly agreed to do a career day for 100 kids on the Friday. It turned out to be a great deal of fun but nevertheless added a ton of extra work onto my already full plate. Also Friday was my birthday. And also Sunday was the Oscars, which may not seem like a big deal but podcasting partners and I decided to bump up our recording time to immediately following the show (more on this later). So basically, every hour of the entire weekend was booked solid and every hour of the week leading up to it needed to be used for preparation.

And oh yeah, in the midst of all this we decided to buy a car.


I say we "decided" but really it was more like the universe "FORCED" us into this decision. It started on Tuesday when, as I was trying to complete a set of errands for work, Lindsey called to say she was broken down in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I showed up, couldn't get the car jumped (this car has had ridiculous battery problems over the years), and ended up having it towed to our mechanic (Jeffrey Automotive, which I highly recommend if you live in the area). They called later to say it was probably just the battery plus some fuses that got fried. Simple enough, thanks.

At this point, we began the discussion that most of you probably know all too well: "How much more are we willing to put into this car before we buy a new one?" I was torn in this discussion as I hate paying for car repairs more than almost anything in this world but I also wasn't super keen on adding another car payment in the midst of this whole "baby" thing. Not sure if you guys are aware but babies are a total suck on your bank account. All they do is eat and poop and they bring in literally NOTHING on their own to help pay the bills. Anyway, this decision was pushed along a bit when the shop called back the next day and informed me that the alternator needed to be replaced as well. At this point, we decided we were going to sell the car and buy a new one and told the mechanic that we wouldn't be replacing the alternator as we all agreed it could last a week or two while we shopped around.


Thursday was supposed to be my catch up day. I planned to drop off Cooper at YCW, head home for a nap, and then get cracking on finishing up all of my work for both the Career Day and the final day of games. On my way out the door from YCW, however, Lindsey called because once again, the car had broken down. (This time she was in a Whataburger parking lot so at least we were moving up in the world. One more breakdown and it might have been at a Nordstrom's or something.) I drove over, we briefly talked it through, and decided to head directly to the dealership.

Now, there are all kinds of strategies when it comes to buying a car. I know this. We just didn't take ANY of them into account. I had not showered, I had not shaved in over a week, and I'm pretty sure I was wearing the same shirt I had worn the day before. Lindsey had been blowing her nose every 3 minutes for the last week and she looked like it. And oh yeah, the car we were looking to trade in was rapidly becoming scrap metal. We'd also spent approximately 30 total minutes researching cars. This is basically a "what not to do" when buying a car.

We met the salesman who was very friendly and he showed us around to the floor models of the two cars Lindsey was interested in. We quickly settled on a CR-V, the guy asked what color, and I interjected, "Just not THAT one" referencing the maroon-ish tint of the car we were looking at. He asked why, I said it was "too Aggie" and he promptly showed me his A&M class ring from 1974 and recounted all of the family members he has that have attended the cult school. So things were going well.

We took a test drive, looked at some used models, and decided on the new one. Our salesman then worked up all the fun financials with Lindsey while I went on a trade-in test drive with the manager. Now look, this Civic is the basest base model you can get and it has some issues (mostly the alternator that needed replacement, which I told them about in the spirit of honesty). But it's still a solid little car. Multiple times people have offered to buy it from us. Like, complete strangers at drive-thrus or gas stations or one time when a dude straight up knocked on the door and said, "If you ever decide to sell that Civic, give me a call." So I expected the trade-in bit to go fairly well.


We got a quarter mile down the road and the A/C shut down. Then a little further the blinkers stopped working. Then the windshield wipers started stuttering. Then we got to a u-turn under the overpass and I thought to myself, "He should probably gun it here" but instead he slowed to a stop and BOOM. Car dead. Like, super dead. We couldn't even get it to shift into neutral. So my new friend the manager at Frank Kent Honda had to walk across the street to get a truck while I stood by the side of the road and directed people around the Civic that was somehow sitting in the dead middle of the road, requiring people to hop the curb. This did not win me any friends.

By the time I got back to the dealership, word of our car's escapades had reached pretty much everyone in the building so for the rest of the day, every single person who walked past me kind of smirked and gave me a knowing nod. I began to wish I would've just firebombed the car in the Whataburger parking lot. The trade-in offer ended up being (understandably) pathetic and so in the end, I just said, "Fix the alternator here and I'll sell it later." So what was a $750 dollar bill two days earlier turned into a $1300 bill and one of the most embarrassing trade-in drives of all time. I've always hated this car and this was its revenge.

In the end, we walked away with the car Lindsey wanted, a story to tell, and a healthy car payment that will pretty much swallow up the entirety of the raise Lindsey just got. It also served as a reminder that no matter how much I may attempt to duck responsibility and age as slowly as possible (except for my knees which are already 73 years old), I am, in fact, an adult which requires adult life choices. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to playing Clash of Clans on my iPad.

Does anyone know a place where this baby can start working? Brian