Does that come with a paper bag?

car-soldYeah, that’s it. That’s the one. It’s … mine. What is it? It’s a 2008 used Ford Escape Hybrid, with 7918 miles on it, fully loaded, AWD, roof rack and all for less than the cost of a new base model hybrid.My Ford Escape - Yes, MINE

Excuse me, I need a paper bag to go breath into a few times. I’m sure you understand. If not, watch this commercial and put a pillow under my head.

Actually I’m doing okay, I’m just having mild freakouts once in a while and then a squee of delight. I drove it home, since I knew the way better, and didn’t hit anyone.

So. My mother is amazing, and I’m still just flabbergasted at the cost of cars, but also of the level of her assistance. Without that, we’d probably have gotten a used non-hybrid smaller, cheaper vehicle, and known we were going to trade it in within a few years.

We got the car from Perillo Motors, and worked with a lovely man named Horacio Gomes (whom we recommend, he’s very nice). Unfailingly polite and understanding. When we expressed concerns, he said ‘take time.’ When I said I was willing to gamble that the car wouldn’t sell between Monday and the time it took to both sort out money and work around schedules (he’s off Wednesday, I’m ‘off’ Saturday), he understood that. His manager didn’t push either, they accepted and I told them the truth: No matter what, I will call you no later than Thursday about the car. I called him Tuesday, Thursday night we went to finalize everything and sign papers.

And yes, it’s an SUV. Shut up everyone.

Why an SUV? Honestly, I would have been happy with just about anything, I suspect, but we’ve found it’s easier to drive to Mississippi or Cleveland than to fly, even with gas prices and traffic. The train is nice, but if you do that (or fly) you still need a car when you get there, or you’re at the behest of your family. And I love ’em, but then you’re always on their dime and time. Oh and rentals? Are expensive! They add up, and they smell, and they aren’t always helpful. Which doesn’t answer an SUV, does it? Except I think that looking at the distances, it kind of does. Its first trip will be Thanksgiving. I’ll have to tweet the drive. The point, and I have one, is this. Yes, the streets are skinny in Chicago, and yes, parking is insane, but I’d rather road-trip across the US than fly, even in this economy. An SUV can haul my bike, a tent, and anything else. And a Hybrid SUV still uses less gas than a Toyota Corolla (which is a great car, please don’t knock it!). I don’t have to buy a navigation system (“How do we get there again?”) which is nice.

audiocable Why was this car a deal? When I say “fully loaded” I mean it. Navigation system (US and Canada, thank you), parking sensors, running boards, roof rack, privacy windows (which by the way, make it weird looking out the back), auto-lights (for daytime running), four wheel anti-lock brakes, fog lamps, engine block heater, actual outlets (not lighter chargers). The radio also comes as a satellite radio, which I’ll never use (can’t be buggered), but it also has an audio jack. That means the cable you see on the right there is all I need to plug in anything, laptop, iPod, iPhone, Zune, to my car’s stereo. It costs $5 and I had one in a drawer. And yes, it worked fine. The first song I played was “Low Rider.” The last song, as I pulled in to our deeded parking spot, was the randomly chosen Billy Ocean “Get Outta My Dreams (and into my car)” with a dose of Texas Tornados and “Hey, Baby. Que Paso?”

Did I learn anything important about this whole ordeal? Yeah. I learned that you should walk away. Even if it’s your dream car, walk away, think about it, sleep on it. If it’s a used car and it gets sold, that’s okay. If it’s new, they’ll get another model in. Also, you may want to purchase a burner cell phone for the duration, because I currently get a lot of phone calls from people we didn’t end up buying from, and I’m tempted to change my voice mail message:

“Hi, this is Mika. We bought a car and if you didn’t know that, it wasn’t from you. Please leave a message if you’re anyone else.”

No, that won’t go over well. At this point, I’ve managed to call back everyone (yes, I called them, I told them I would!) and told them the bad news. A few people, with whom I’d only emailed, got the generic ‘We went with someone else’ message. Only Northside Toyota (a very nice place as well) wanted to know who I picked and why, and I understand that.

Sidebar. I’m always willing to talk to someone about why I made a decision or do things in a certain way. I vote Green/Libertarian, and lately Chicago’s been hit up with polling people asking if we’re going to vote Republican or Democrat. Invariably, I take a moment to explain that Illinois has three viable parties: Democrat, Republican and Green. Only once has someone been confused by this. So when Toyota asked me ‘Why not the Highlander?’ I told them: The Highlander is expensive, it feels small, it rides like a sedan, and it jerks when it jumps from EV to combustion engines.

He'Brew - The Chosen Beer I feel bad for car dealers, though, and most other service places. See, even in this crap economy, most people who buy stuff work. And most of us work ‘regular’ hours. That means I can’t get to see my car until after work, which means Horacio has to stay late. Mind you, his hours are till 6pm, but still, what terrible hours! And worse, Illinois is a “Blue Law State” so there’s no major business on Sundays. If that’s new to you, the way it works is that since Sunday is a ‘holy day’ to Christians, you can’t buy booze before noon or purchase major commerce. Like cars. In most places, these get called unconstitutional and repealed, eventually. Illinois is down to two: Car sales are prohibited on Sundays and horse racing is prohibited on Sundays unless authorized by the local municipality. So in Chicago, you can get drunk before noon, but in Cleveland, my dad will fold his arms and refuse to order anything at 11:59am.

I made a lot of use of the internet to research this car, and went quickly from a level where I defined cars by their body shapes to understanding the difference between 4 and 6 cylinder engines, AWD and FWD, and what a powertrain is, mostly. I’m certainly not a car genius, but I know enough that I think I’ll be okay up to the point where I need to change my oil for the first time. And yes, I plan on doing that. I will accept an Idiot’s Guide to Car Maintenance, as well as an air freshener, for holiday presents!

Next up, since insurance is gotten and plates are on the way (generic random number) is a city sticker. Silly city stickers. Hate it, but what’re you gonna do?

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