Friday, May 12, 2006

Used-Car-Program-Related Activities

I'm off to Michigan (where The Lovely Becky is on a panel at the Ann Arbor Book Festival) and then onward to Windsor (where I will smoke Cubans and drink with TLB's awesome Canadian relatives). I may be able to squeeze in a Top Ten if they have the Internets in Canada, but otherwise the jerking will be taking a breather until later next week.

My recent purchase of a new used car* (to replace the tornado-totalled one) and the WMD shenannigans with Iran reminded me of the following, a piece I wrote in spring 2004 that later became my first blog post, back when I was posting at a blog called Jane's Calamity and CJSD was just a twinkle in my eye. I thought it would be fun to resurrect it.

*purchased from my father who, while a staunch Republican, always cuts me a great deal.


--Hello, sir, I’m George. How can I help you?

--I'm looking for a new car.

--This is the used car lot. See, says so right up there.

--No, I meant I’m looking to purchase a car. A used car. I’m under a very tight deadline, and I have very little money to spend.

--Oh, well, then you’ve come to the right place....


--Hans. Nice name. Nice German name.

--I’m Swedish.

-- I love your meatballs!

--Um, thank you. Now, about this car....

--This one is one-of-a-kind, Hans.

--It’s a Datsun.

--Yes, but they don’t make these anymore, Hans.

--Why not? Is something wrong with it?

--No, no, of course not. In fact, this one was owned by a little old lady. Myrtle Jenkins. She cried when she had to sell it, Hans, that’s how much she loved this car.


--Yes, she was nearing the end of her life. She had seen her father go off to a world war. Her husband fought in the next world war. She sent her son off to the jungles of southeast Asia. And her grandson....

-- Why did she sell the car again?

--She couldn’t afford to keep it, Hans. See, Myrtle lives on social security. Unfortunately, that didn’t provide her as much money as she banked on. Not as much, certainly, if Myrtle had been able to control how her social security was invested through private investments.

--I see. But it’s in good shape?

--Hans, a pessimist would say this car is in good shape. A pessimist. I would say this car is in phenomonable shape. Probably better shape than you or I, even though I’m a jogger. You jog, Hans?

--No. It does seem to be well maintained.

--Phenomonable, Hans. It’s met all of the state's minimum safety requirements.

--That price almost seems too good to be true. Safety is very important to me, George. And this car is a bit...


--...old. I’m worried about its safety features. Does it have anti-lock brakes?

--Hans, it has something better than anti-lock brakes. Neo-anti-lock brakes. With traditional anti-lock brakes, what controls the braking? A machine, a computer chip. Now let me ask you a question. Are you smarter than a computer chip?

--Yes of course, but—

--Exactly. No little piece of silicon can out-think the ol’ human noodle that God has blessed each of us with. But a while ago a bunch of liberal engineers decided to take braking out of your hands, Hans, and put that life-and-death decision into a chip. These neo-anti-lock brakes restore your power to choose when to pump your brakes. If they lock up, then you decide whether or not to take your foot off and pump. You remain in control during the whole decision process, Hans, not the little computer chip.

--Well, I don’t know....

--Hans, how do you like the sound of “free CD player”?

--Okay, you have a deal.


--Hello, can I help you?

--Hi, George, remember me?

--Franz, right?


--Right, from Sweeden. Love those meatballs!

--I’m not...never mind. Look, it’s about that free CD player.

--Nice, isn’t it? Much better sound than those old records. That’s the beauty of progress.

--Yes, well, George, the problem is I can’t enjoy that crystal clear sound without speakers.

--I see. The best suggestion I can make would be to purchase speakers, then have them installed. That should solve your problem.

--Yes, but I think you should do that.

--I don’t follow you, Hans.

--Well, you deceived me about the speakers. When you said, “free CD player,” I interpreted that as “a CD player that plays through the car's speakers.”

--Hans, correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t say, “free CD player that will play through the car’s speakers.” All I offered was the free CD player.

--Yes, but, who in their right mind would offer a free CD player without something to play it through?

--You seemed to think it was a great offer, Hans.

--But you told me the speakers were there, George. Remember? You pointed to the speaker covers in the back and in the door and said I would be “blown away” when I heard the CD player through those. But when there was no sound and I checked under the covers, it looked like the speakers were removed quite some time ago.

--Hans, I’m sorry. I assumed those speakers were there. I see speaker covers, I assume there are speakers underneath. All the information I was given suggested that there was a high probability that those speakers would be found where one would expect to find those speakers on this model of car.

--Just put the speakers in.

--Sure thing, Hans. Again, I repeat to you, the capacity to have a good owner’s manual means that a car salesmen can make good calls about the features of the car. So please don’t tell my manager.



--Hans! Good to see you. How’s the Toyota?

--Datsun, you lying sack of—

--Whoah, buddy, let’s simmer down.

--Simmer? Is that a joke, George? Because my Datsun is simmering at the junkyard now. It caught on fire.


--Remember the gas smell I asked about? You said it was because the Datsun used a high efficiency engine that actually recycled some of the gas.

--I don’t recall saying that exactly....

--It turns out it smelled like gas because it was leaking gas. The insurance inspector said there were holes in the fuel line. How the hell can a car meet “the state’s minimum safety requirements” when there are holes in the fuel line?

--That sounds like a question for the state. I am as shocked as you are, Hans. It sounds like we were both lied to.

--I want to see the inspection records.

--Okay, okay. I have them in my files. Let me see...yes, right here.

--What’s this big smudge? There’s eighteen months of inspection records I can’t read.

--Well, I’ll be. I don’t know how that got there. But see that signature at the bottom? That’s from the state inspector. He wouldn’t sign that if the car wasn’t safe. Wouldn’t be much of a safety inspector, would he?

--George, I swear, if you’re lying...

--Hey, Hans, we’re friends. There’s no need for that kind of hate speech. Tell you what, I’m going to get you another car, okay, and I’m only going to charge you...I can’t even say it out loud, because I’ll get in trouble with my manager. That’s how good of a deal I’ll make. I’ll even throw in those speakers I was supposed to install. Now, you look like a Yugo man to me.


Adorable Girlfriend said...

No fair! Go to Zingerman's in A squared and have one Jewish college style for AG. (It's no lower E, NYC, but it will do. Despite what Pinko Punkass says!)

Have fun! Is tlb Canadian?

Trevor Jackson said...

Safe travels, B and TLB.

This used car thing is like one of those metaphor things, right? Like a hidden meaning?

almostinfamous said...

enjoy ze trip.

and i like the way the whole thing plays out... a bit prescient, if you ask me.

Brando said...

Thanks for all the wishes. Just got back and had a good time, although I didn't have time to explore Ann Arbor much.

AG, to answer your question, TLB is not Canadian, but her dad was born there and she has a lot of family there.