The Pressure Cooker

This week I thought I’d buy a new car…my brain must have been momentarily taken over by aliens. I hate buying new cars–or any cars, for that matter. Selling them is no better. What we have to go through to buy or sell a car is absurd. And that was beyond proven to me again this week.

In an effort to stay focused, this is mainly about the buying bit.

OK, my first problem, and I admit it, is that I am a woman. Women buying cars have always been easy prey for fast talking car salesmen. It’s tradition. Must be because most women feel about the car buying process as I do, plus we are just not that into cars. We like a car for its color, its shape, its size (and yes, it does matter), and for many of us that’s about it.

Men, on the other hand, are more likely to be into the car itself and all of its attendant glories. Men like cars. Don’t ask me why, but they do. And men like to haggle over prices. An even greater mystery to me–must be a macho thing.

But, back to the fate of us unfortunate women who are forced to go it alone into the largely all-man’s land of car buying. Just thinking about it causes me to have to take a deep breath.

The reason I thought I wanted to buy a car was that I’ve fallen in love…with a particular model–of car, not man, in case there was any doubt. This infatuation having nothing to do with ratings, performance levels, or gas mileage, but having everything to do with looks. Remember, I never said I was practical. At least I check with Consumer Reports before falling too overboard, and the object of my current affection had passed that test, so I was on my way–I thought.

I first, with great effort, put behind me–or tried to–all of my past misadventures with this most un-sportsmanlike sport. As with the last time I was buying a car…I was ready to sign the papers, but was told that all of the sales managers were in a meeting and couldn’t be disturbed–to sell a car. I didn’t understand why this place even existed if it were not to do just that, but regardless of any logic, they told me I would have to wait. And that was only the beginning of the folly that unfolded at that place that, it turns out, was operating without any general manager and was basically a fraternity party gone berserk. (Corporate headquarters–subsequently informed by me–was most interested.)

The internet helps a lot, at least in theory. All kinds of info there about ratings, pricing, options, availabilities. There is even a site that attempts to prepare women for how to deal with the sharks at the dealerships. It strikes me as deeply foreboding that this site even exists.

The problem remains that the present system seemingly makes it necessary to go to a dealership to buy a new car–or to at least have a selection of them, or the possibility of ordering one with only the desired options. Another system is badly needed.

So, in I walked to the local dealership for PT Cruisers–those gangster-like looking cars that make you think of Bonnie and Clyde. I had never fancied myself a Bonnie-like character, but then again, Faye Dunaway made Bonnie look pretty good in the movie, so if I cut out all that blood and carnage, and just concentrated on The Look, the Cruiser could fit into my penchant for the slightly off-beat. (Notice I said slightly.)

I was quite surprised to be met at the door by–a woman. What was she doing here? Turned out she was selling cars. OK, so things have perhaps changed for the better after all.

Her name was Bianca and she told me what I wanted to know without a bag of hot air attached to it. Welcome relief. And we talked–as women do—about other things, that I will admit, made me feel like I was dealing with a being of my own species and not one of those Men from Mars. Everything was going just great.

Then Bianca left the room. Uh-oh. Was this leading to what I thought it was?

It was.

Enter The Sales Manager–otherwise known as The Pressure Cooker man. I couldn’t believe it. Bianca and I had been doing just fine, and then this guy shows up–all set to undo all the good that had been done. He did not disappoint. Pressure to the hilt in a style that I thought had gone out with the Howard Hughes and the 50s.

Having been subjected to this treatment in a past life, I informed The Cooker man that he’d better leave before I did first. Being half my age, and probably hearing his mother in my voice, he did…almost immediately, but not quite. He still had part of his script to read, which only sank him in deeper.

When he did vacate The Pressure Cooker cubicle, waving papers in his hand, I asked for a copy of the estimate upon which he had been blowing his hot air. He said no. I said YES. I won–that round at least.

Apparently Bianca had been banished from further contact with me. That was too bad. I never got to say good-bye. And I would have bought a car from her too, had I not been subjected to The Pressure Cooker. Too bad ‘The Sales Manager’ was not able to understand that.

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