This entry originally appeared on my disability blog, I hate stairs.
Car buying is such a chore. People look at the cars, imagine themselves in the cars, and fall in love with the cars. But then the salesman reveals the price of your new love. With the elegance and urgency of a circus ringmaster, he brings down the whip upon you, forcing you to jump through a ring of fire into a world of expired hopes and broken dreams. The land of used car sales.
I remember a better time. I was shiny and new. I strutted off of the assembly line with ambition. I was going to find my human. I was duped into believing that every car had a human that it was supposed to be with. Marketing goes both ways, you know. I would find that human who would love me, take care of me, and most importantly, drive me. We would bond as they pressed my accelerator and steered my wheel. I would be his or her love. CD’s? I got you. Air conditioning? I got you. You want to put junk in my trunk? I got you. Think you might need room for kids later in life? I got you. Bottom line is I am there for you when your human friends aren’t. You want to take the scenic route home? Let’s do it. You need to get away from the spouse, let’s do it. You want to relax at the local bar with a Margarita? Do it. I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to take you places.
Yes, those were the days of blissful ignorance. My first human was a lemon. But I couldn’t take him back for a refund. No. I had to lug his fat, sweaty body of mush through every drive-thru grease bucket in town. I did so without enough fuel, oil, and other basic needs. Finally, Meathead couldn’t pay my note anymore. He sold me. And now I am sitting here in the parking lot of Super Used Auto Sales, rotting away, missing the glory days, and steaming about the name of this stupid place that feels it has to remind me every day that I am, in fact, super used.
But then comes a customer. I can tell she doesn’t really want me. She wants that sports car across the lot because he could fill the void In her miserable love life. Or she wants one of these little Japanese cars that have the ability to run on nothing and just take it. She doesn’t have time for a car like me. I’m high maintenance. I’m long past my prime. And I’m quite the pessimist. I’m just a regular Joe car. Nothing special. Not anymore. I can’t play her iPod. I can’t show DVD’s. I don’t have a sun roof. I don’t have a rear facing camera. I can’t parallel park for her. I can’t do anything those new guys can do. We’re doing good if we get off the lot on the right foot.
Needless to say, her initial offer isn’t anywhere close to what the salesman has in mind. I know I am not going to get this girl and it hurts me deep inside my gearbox. She knows it too. But something changes in her voice and body language. She has given up on the other cars. She wants me. Am I all she can afford? Can she see past my dirty exterior and see the beauty that I once was? I don’t know. But I feel for the first time in my life, someone is going to appreciate me for who I am. But this stupid salesman has to stop this, this… massacre against hope. This blitz in the name of a fast profit. You can go lower. But he doesn’t. The realization that this has been nothing more than a bone just out of reach begins to sink in. She’s going to walk. I can see it on her face.
Then… she starts to cry. The other customers are looking over at the salesman. He’s off his game. He’s been thrown a curve ball and he doesn’t know how to swing at it. She crying louder, harder. The salesman is sweating. Not from the summer’s heat but from a crowd of onlookers who have gathered round. I get it. My girl planned it this way! That’s why she looked at the other cars first. She really wants me! You know what?! Screw iPods, DVDs, and rear-facing cameras. Screw sunroofs, sports cars, and shiny paint. Screw fuel efficiency and compact design. You want a car with a soul? I got you. You want a car with a dream? I got you. You want a car that appreciates you? I got you. Bottom line is you sign that bottom line and we’ll drive off into the sunset as partners in crime, making our own way and not taking nothin’ from nobody.
The American dream.