with equal parts compassion & hilarity

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing! Can You Help Me?!

I looked at a car the other day.

It’s really just about that time what with devil horn looking hood pins and a rusty chain securing the hood of my current vehicle. Oh, and factor in that I now keep a fire extinguisher in the backseat because one time my steering wheel started smoking.

Even though I love my big, blue, beautiful car, I am beginning to emerge from a heavy state of denial and can now almost wholly admit to myself that yes, I do need to spend money to get a different new-to-me car.

I spontaneously scheduled a meet with a Craigslist advertiser to take a look at their 2002 Ford Focus ZTS giving myself roughly 45 minutes of prep time. I have never looked at a car with intent to buy before. Not with a friend and certainly not by myself. But, I wasn’t worried. I mean, I’m generally a likable person. I was sure that this Craigslist advertiser would help me out.

At the same time, my dad likes to joke that if I ever went to a dealership alone, the salesmen would see me coming a mile away and smirk because they were going to, essentially, eat me alive. I’m just a nice person, what can I say?

After work, I quick ran home to change because maybe this advertiser would take me more seriously if I wasn’t wearing a dress in the rainy weather. I also called my beloved friend, Johanna, who recently went through the car shopping journey herself. She knows me and still loves me, so I felt confident that she wouldn’t judge me.

She prayed for me and did a good job not calling me dumb when I asked “Jo, do I need to have the money with me?”

“Okay, yeah I’m an idiot. Sorry. I don’t know how much cash I have here.”

I frantically reached for my Travel Around The World Jar (a very beautiful and very large vintage wine bottle), dumped it upside down and felt giddy as the sound of clinking coins filled the air. That’s what is going to get Alexis a new car – $53 worth of nickels and dimes. Obviously.

On speaker phone, Johanna explained her “Facebook/watch videos of kids lip syncing Mother’s Day songs/talk to Alexis” break from her workout was probably over.

And with that, I was alone. The worst part about my Travel Around The World Jar is that the top is narrow because it is a wine bottle. I stretched and willed my fingers to lengthen in order to get all of the crumpled $1 bills out.

I have been serving at Applebee’s for the past few months so I grabbed the jar of cash I earned from that as well.

Things were going great at that point.

On my drive to the meeting spot, I practiced multitasking which is actually a waste of time as multitasking literally kills your brain. Alas, there was no time to be reasonable – I was going to be late. At red lights I counted the cash I had thrown in the passenger seat and with the green lights I repeated to myself the questions Johanna instructed me to ask.

“Has the timing belt been replaced? Any major surgeries on the vehicle? Do all the windows roll down? Do all the windows roll up? A/C + heat? Rust?”

I will not say I got lost, but I will say I wasn’t quite sure where I was going. I called my sister who did a good job except for when she told me to walk the wrong way – just one time though. I walk fast which helped make up for lost time.

Eventually, I spotted the car and met the people. A married couple, it turns out he has a job working in Manhattan and she will be joining him after graduating from North Dakota State University. There are incredibly kind people with no need for a car anymore.

It was kind of fun as I asked all the questions and checked out the car. They gave me space, but honestly I just kind of wanted affirmation I was doing a good job so I kept asking them random questions. Talk to me, tell me about your life, please distract me from the fact that I feel clueless. I may not know a ton about gauging whether this is the car I want, but I sure can talk.

I now realize I forgot to check the blinkers and a few other minor details. Next time, I’ll consider cutting down on the distractions.

Then, we talked money. According to Kelley Blue Book, the car was significantly overpriced so I stood my ground and said candidly that no, I am not paying more than what KBB priced the car at. Someone else offered about $300 more than me, which was fine because I know that there is car out there for me.

Plus, I didn’t have enough money anyways. Who was I kidding? As if those $1 bills lying around would magically materialize into enough to purchase a car… RIGHT.

While I cannot say I am the proud owner of a slightly rusted 2002 Ford Focus ZTS with three functional windows, I am proud of myself for not exclaiming “I don’t know what I’m doing! I’ve never looked at a car before! Can you help me?!” to the married couple.

Next time, I’ll be more prepared and maybe stop at the bank beforehand.

Live & learn, folks.

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