Saturday, April 24, 2010

New Cars and Old Nightmares

Pin It The smell of new car wafted about me as I sat in the driver’s seat at the Honda dealership. I closed my eyes and allowed the feel of the brand-new used CR-V to settle itself over me. It was like arriving at a place and a time that was not only comfortable, but familiar as well.

I liked it.

The price tag? Not so much liked, and the color was not so much liked, either. The dusty blue exterior just didn’t seem quite right. I arrived at this conclusion from the simple fact that I love red. After all, my last two cars have been so, and I’ve driven the same vehicle for the past nine years. It’s a fact for which I’m well-known and recognized. In fact, I’ve had several folks make it a point to tell me, “Hey, Teachinfourth, I saw you today…you drove by and I waved to you. When your car passed I saw that it wasn’t you driving, so then I understood why you didn’t wave, so it really wasn’t your car, but I felt like I saw you today.”

Such is life when I’ve become associated with every little, red CR-V that buzzes around town. My dad has even admitted that he will do a double take when he sees one, just in the off chance that it just might be me—even though we live some five hundred miles from each other.

So blue didn’t feel quite right just now, I needed crimson, baby. Crimson.

I headed up to Salt Lake to take a test drive in a 2007 CR-V. Not only was it my brand and make, it was red. Can I say that again? It was RED. I let the freeway fall behind me and let my excitement rise as I came closer to my destination. This could be it. Like the feeling one gets before taking out a really hot a blind date, the butterflies were doing a number in the bowels of my stomach.

I took the freeway exit and ended up at the dealership in a matter of minutes upon entering SLC. I eased my car into a vacant parking stall and began to walk among the sea of vehicles, which spread about me like Legos after being played with by an obsessive-compulsive child with perfectionist tendencies.

It was only a few moments before I spotted the car, the one that had haunted me since I’d seen its image on the Internet a week ago.

It. was. beautiful.

I walked to the vehicle and ran my fingers over the smooth contours and aerodynamic shell.

I liked it.

Within about the space of ten seconds, a slicked-back salesman straight from the stereotypical hall of fame approached me; a smile as wide as the kid who’s found all the Easter eggs blanketing his face.

“Looking for a car, sonny?” he asked with a gesture toward the car I’d been looking at. He then introduced himself as, Stan ‘the car man’ Schubach. I’m always leery of people who add nicknames and quotes into their introductions, and look like a brother to Danny Devito from Matilda.

Despite his outward appearance of that of a creepy uncle, and his greasy demeanor, I told him that I wanted to take this car for a spin. I also let him know up front that I was not interested in buying something today—but was simply looking and exploring options.

Car Man Stan nodded appreciatively, and let me know that he would need to make a copy of my driver’s license. That is, if I were planning on test-driving today. He handed me a set of keys as I passed over the only physical proof on my person that was indeed who I am.

As he walked toward the office to make the photocopy, I opened the driver’s side of the door of the car which had haunted my dreams and gasped—but not in the way one might imagine. It wasn’t an excited type of gasp, but more like the ‘hold-your-breath-gasp’ because standing at the door of that car was like being hit in the face with the breath of a demon in the sulfuric bowels of hell.

The ebbing excitement I’d felt on the way to my destination died away like the last of the pressure of a shut-off faucet and a front-yard sprinkler. I was deflated. I was depressed even.

The smell from the car was reminiscent to the odor of my aunt’s house, (I’ll not mention her name here so that Janet’s identity will be protected). This was the house I found myself at from time to time when I was growing up. It was depressing and painful; my eyes would sting and my throat would burn at the noxious, choking smell of cigarettes from two chain-smoking relatives. The car—which had once been a dream—was rapidly becoming a nightmarish childhood memory I’d managed to block out for years.

The dealer came back—dealer sounds so bad, doesn’t it? It sounds like I’m taking part in an illegal drug exchange. For how I was feeling at that moment, I might have well just been.

We took the car for a spin around a few blocks with the windows down and sunroof open; however, this wasn’t enough to brush away the dirty feeling which seemed to coat my very skin, like the saran-wrapish layer of skim forming over the top stagnant water.

In a word, I felt icky.

I couldn’t wait to get out of the car when we’d made it back to the dealership. It was at this point that Stan, the Rip-Off Man seemed to realize that his customer was not impressed, and endeavored to bring my attention to the car sitting next to the one I’d just test driven…only a few years newer than the CR-V I have now, and in much worse condition. He smoothed it all over with, “This baby is che—r—ry. You should see the interior, it is flawless leather and a steal at this price!” He proudly waved his hand at the car with its faded paint, rock-chipped hood, and dent in the front fender—rusting.

Wow, all I can say is that Stan and I have inverted opinions on what constitutes a car in cherry condition. This particular ‘cherry’ looked an awful lot like a lemon to me.

I excused myself from Satan Stan, and returned to the comfortable and familiar world I had arrived in. I closed my eyes and allowed the sweet, lingering smell of my last desert trip to wash over me. It felt safe. It felt cozy. It was at this point I realized—that at least for now—I am already home.

Now, I just need to wait for Stan, Driver’s-License-Forgetting-to-Return-Man, to mail me back the license he forgot to return at the dealership.


Danielle said...

Dontcha just HATE that?? I've test drove a car that looked perfect (or close to) from the outside, but then you get in and that smell is a DEAL-BREAKER!!!

Cheeseboy said...

This is so well written, it was like I was there, holding Stan's hand.

Sorry it didn't work out for you. Why people smoke in their cars is beyond me. It's ALWAYS a deal killer the moment I smell it.

Look at the bright side, at least you didn't have to bargain with Stan. That would have been a whole other nightmare post.

Richard & Natalie said...

Ah man...
I hope you find exactly what you're looking for...minus Satan Stan.

Natasha said...

"...hit in the face with the breath of a demon in the sulfuric bowels of hell", what a great mental image that is- the smell of smoke is one of the worst things.

Hopefully you receive your license back quickly from Satan Stan.

And great choice on a red CR-V! My family has one and her name is RV-etta.

A Lark said...

Maybe he hoped if he didn't return your license, you would come back and he could sell you a car!
So, see, this had a silver lining after all - to help you appreciate what you already have (and get a good blog entry out of the story).

Farscaper said...

I'm so sorry about the stinky bummer. I feel your pain.

Last summer we had to make an emergency purchase of a "new" van. Our 1993 Dodge Caravan was having some serious fits after taking it down to Arizona to see my dad before he passed. It barely made it back (it did die a few times but we were able to give it CPR and brought it back to life).

2 weeks after we returned I received the news that my dad had passed. Now we had to either chance the trip in the nearly dead green van or find something in our price range. (which is basically nothing). We had to search and search and search. Each time we found a van that looked good, priced decent, and not an extreme amount of miles we would open the door and immediately be forced to say, "No Way!". I had a 2 month old baby at the time and there was NO WAY I would ride around with a brand new baby in THAT smell (I didn't want our older kids in that stink either).

Found one that had a hint of an old hotel room but not too bad. They did a pretty good job with the smell. I was desperate so we bought it. I have become fond of the coconut smelling air freshener "little trees".

I have sworn that someday I WILL buy a new vehicle where I get to be the one to give it all the smells (food, rain, kids, dirt, etc..). I can dream anyway...

So Healthy Together said...

For as much as I laughed over this posting I am so sorry that you had such a lousy experience with your car shopping...that red CR-V was a beauty in the postings, it sucks that someone chose to ruin it by marinating it in cigarette smoke.

I understand what you mean about the blue rig not feeling right...I also do a double take whenever I pass a red CR-V, checking to see if its you behind the wheel. Its just the rig that seems to sum you up.

If its a fit for you then its something worth waiting for. Keep searching...your rig is out there waiting for you to find it.

Gerb said...

When we were searching for a new car we encountered waaaaay too many stereotypical used car salesmen. I wonder if the job attracts the men or the men become the job? Either way... I think A Lark has it right - his keeping your license was clearly a ploy to get you back in his clutches.

Here's where the comment should have ended, but I can't resist telling you about how the car we eventually did find has a smoking ghost... on occasion we'll be driving along and suddenly the car will smell faintly of cigarette smoke. If we open the windows and air it out, the smell (and ghost-smoker?) are gone - at least until the next time it happens. Maybe that's a blog post right there...

Ally said...

Thank you so much for stopping by. If you wouldn't mind, I need to put you in my blog roll as you are a FOURTH GRADE teacher!!! Ha ha! How cool is that for me here at PS My mom taught fourth grade for 20 years.

We just got a black 2010 CR-V in black. It's so true about colors. Whenever I leased a new vehicle it had to be black, I know black has issues, heat and dirt, etc. But I, um, look better in black. My entire wardrobe is pretty much black, etc. Ha ha, I'm a chick, cut me some slack... Anyway, my last Honda Accord was silver, why? Because I hated the tan interior which came standard in the affordable black model. I went with silver just for the interior and for three years felt so unhappy. I have always wanted a CRV and never had the paycheck to do it.

Long story short, I complained to my dad who just happened to have a new buddy who was connected to one of the biggest NJ Honda dealerships!!! She got us an amazing deal on a new leased CR-V for a few bucks more than the affordable Accord. SCORE!

I have three years of CR-V bliss ahead of me, then hopefully I will earn enough cash to lease another one which I'm sure will be more realistic to the price tag. This was a complete fluke!

I'll be following you in a few seconds :)

Mamma has spoken said...

And you just explain why I buy new. That and hubby and his family are all in the auto business. I can get some sweet deals thanks to them.

Powdered Toast Man said...

thanks for the comments, I will have to swing by and read some of your posts.

Who is Abe? I don't know people's real names in the blogosphere.

See Mom Smile said...

Reminds me of the Sienfeld when the car smelled of B.O.
Cigarette smell is still way worse!

Shannon said...

Cheeseboy is correct - when you write, it is as though we are right there looking over your shoulder and experiencing all of the same emotions you are.

I've always wanted a red car...truck...hell, go-kart for that matter. In the blazing Arizona desert, we most often opt for WHITE - my least favorite hue.

Great post Mr. Z - I'm sure that car's out there just waiting for the right moment to draw you in.

As for Stan - all I can do is shake my head.

MBGITWWR said...

What a grand nose dive. Nothing quite like having your hopes and dreams pureed with tar and smoke. Better luck next time, friend. :)

Teachinfourth said...

D - It was quite the disappointment - I'll be honest

A - Two posts for the nightmare of one? Now THAT is a deal…

N - I know that there'll be another vehicle down the road. Literally.

N - It was awful.

You've got a CR-V? You're my new hero!

J - It really did help me appreciate what I've got right now. True enough!

F - Wow…glad you were able to get a good one.

S - I liked the blue rig a lot better than the red one when it came to the interior…I'll tell you that!

G - Smoking ghost?! Love it!

A - Actually, I am teaching 5th grade now, but I did fourth grade for a few years. I figured that it would be better to keep the address instead of changing it up every time I swap grades.

I love the CR-V. I just hate of the colors/interiors of the different models. The black looks great with it's interior (black leather) but it was a bit more pricey than what I wanted to spend. Of course, there will be that right car before I know it.

B - If money were only no option for me…sigh.

J - You're welcome back anytime. As for Abe, he's Cheeseboy.

S - Seinfeld is is a great show. That particular episode made me laugh, or even the one where George believes he bought Jon Voight's car.

S - Thanks for the compliment. I have to agree with you, white or black are not my first choice of colors, but I'd take them if there was nothing else available - black before white though.

MB - Amen to that!

tiburon said...

Awwww that sucks! Nothing worse than a smoked in car!

And I love how Stans name got worse through your tale of woe.

I didn't like the woe part so much.

Teachinfourth said...

T - The main reason for the digression in his name was equally in correspondence with the situation.

Just glad it's mostly over…still waiting to get my license back.

Scott McCray said...

As an ex-smoker - and now a committed non-smoker - I can totally relate! When I was still fighting to quit, I'd go hang around the folks that still smoked when they came back from smoking. That reek was all it took to reinforce my willpower!

Good luck in the search!


W/V = phatab - how did they know?

mama-face said...


I just read your comment on my blog and followed you over here...

THAT IS MY CAR!!! Well, I bought mine new, in 2007, so it is not the SAME car...but I LOVE my sweet little baby red CR-V. It smells wonderful.

coincidence? yeah. probably. :0

Just SO said...

I am a red car person myself. I love red. I'm sorry your dream turned into a nightmare.

♥Miya said...

Oh my gosh, THAT'S the smell I've been trying to place!

There's an entire floor in one of the old dormitories that smells just like what you described... but I would rack my brain trying to remember where I had smelt it before and the best description I could come up with was "It smells like the 80's".

Roy says over my shoulder to check out a Subaru Forester:

Anonymous said...

So sorry things turned out like that! I just got a CRV and love it, even though it isn't the crimson one that you pictured which also was my DREAM. Don't know if you are still shopping but hope you get the nice smelling car that you deserve. P.S. I like your writing!

tammy said...

I, too, loved how Stan's middle name kept changing.

I'll never forget my first car salesman. His name was Ivory White and he was black.

Sorry the blind date didn't work out.

mywest said...

Poor Stan the car man...Perhaps he can't smell anymore...besides the smell, it was a cherry. Keep looking I know you will find your Crimson CR-V that smells as good as it looks.

Rachel said...

Oh man! The metephors in this post!!!

Red. Totally understand. Sigh....sniffle.....sob.......Clifford.....come baaaaack!

You know our next one will be red, or a shade of has to be!

Uptown Girl said...

I just shed a tear.

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