August 17, 2022

car buying: babysitting connections has its benefits

NEW-TO-US-CAR:  Mini's accident was on a Wednesday evening. With my dad's car borrowed and the gray in the shop getting brakes, we only had two working cars. We needed a car. Really we could've used another 3 or 4 cars, but who's counting? Friday night, Lad looked at the website for all of the dealerships 'connected-by-blood' (or sparkplugs) to his. We found a few options. 

GW has rips in the seats. Red, RIP, had
a troll living in the wall that made a loud
 ticking noise whenever it felt like it.
This is seal. Look at that middle seat.
 She's a beaut. Leather seats
 - a first for everything. 

He was gonna drive to a distant, but related dealership and snag a used Honda minivan from '19 with 36,000 miles on it the next morning. Then, he'd pick me up in the car (how's that for service), drive me to his nearby dealership and we'd get 'er done. Then I could drive home in the newby. Coach works occasionally on a Saturday, and this was one of them, so I was on my own. We weren't financing, just paying cash. We were hoping for a fast transaction. 

After my workout on Saturday, I decided to scrub the kitchen. Top to bottom. I should've been writing, but sometimes I want a clean kitchen. Why should the kitchen only be clean and uncluttered when we're having a grad party?

Lad called. He was driving the navy minivan, but he'd gotten word that he could show me the car at his dealership, but that I couldn't drive away with it. It needed to be sold out of that building, certified this and that. I couldn't technically buy it that day. 

I switched gears quickly from my OH SHOOT mode to my COME NOW, LET'S SEE WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT THIS mode. 

You all know that I used to babysit for the family that owns the dealerships where Lad works, right? As in, I was 12 when good fortune struck. They moved into my neighborhood. Mom showed up at their door with a plate full of cookies, a welcoming smile, and an introduction:  SO, I HAVE 3 DAUGHTERS WHO BABYSIT. THE OLDER ONES ARE A LITTLE BUSY WITH THEIR 'FAMILIES', BUT ERNIE IS EXCITED TO GET STARTED.

They were my first sitting gig, and I was obsessed. When we met, they had 3 kids. Eventually they ended up with 8. I vividly remember the specific days when each of the younger 5 were born. 

The owner of the Honda dealership was a year old when I started babysitting for him. I called him Baby Face and he called me Onion. If you look for him in my phone contacts, he's naturally under 'Baby Face.' Being glossed over by my family of origin was of little consequence once Baby Face started crying and clinging to me for dear life when I tried to go home after a babysitting job. The feeling was mutual. Can you say self-esteem builder? 


A moment later my phone rang.

Baby Face:  They didn't tell me it was a woman I've known my entire life. They just said an employee's mom wants to look at that car. Shit, you can drive it home today. We'll have Lad throw some DL plates on it and do the paperwork at your house. He can bring in your check Monday. 

Later he told Lad to throw in an extended warranty or something, since I kept him alive for years. I knew there was a reason he was my favorite. 

I never even drove the minivan prior to purchasing it. Lad picked me up in it, and gathered some paperwork at his office and about an hour later I drove it home. It's nice. Fancy-shmancy. Hell, I was sold at "THE RADIO WORKS." 

There's a command center that I will probably never quite understand how to use. I think it does everything except start the dishwasher remotely. Plus we've never been part of the leather seat club. As a bonus, it has 8 seats. We won't have to bring two cars or the GW/church bus when we want to all attend a family function together. I'm excited to leave the little troll that lived in the back right side panel of the destroyed red car at the lot. I would like to have an autopsy to determine what the heck caused that thumping noise even when the car was turned off, but I'm just gonna have to wonder. 

Best of all, the car is clean. Really clean. Not gonna lie, I'd be OK living in it. How long will the new-car-clean last? Well, I'm not holding my breath. In case you are wondering, we haven't let Mini drive it yet. Did you know that a week before her accident we were discussing her driving habits and she said:  I'M A GOOD DRIVER. I DRIVE AGGRESSIVELY. 

Well, we tried to explain that she was supposed to drive DEFENSIVELY. How did she miss that day of drivers ed? It happens to be the THEME of the entire program. 

Lad pointed out that when we planned to trade the red car in in July, we wouldn't have gotten much for it because it was never gonna pass emissions. Since it was in an accident, the insurance company won't know that the emissions test was an issue. He thinks we'll get more for it from insurance, than we would've gotten when trading it in.

Mini realized this and said OH, YOU'RE WELCOME. Of course she did. 

We are fortunate to have the funds set aside. This is a terrible time to purchase a car. It was inevitable, but I would prefer not to have done it this way. When Mini was still sobbing in the kitchen a few hours after the accident, I let my kid-who-doesn't-hug know that it was time for a hug. I hugged her for a long time and told her:  CARS CAN BE REPLACED. I CANNOT IMAGINE LIFE WITHOUT YOU IN IT. 
I had the joy of going to
the lot to get a few
things we forgot from the
smashed up minivan. Yikes. 

Then it morphed into a I'M NOT CRYING, YOU'RE CRYING moment, because goodness this was scary and I was emotional. 

After our embrace, I went upstairs to do laundry, and take some deep breaths. A moment later Mini called upstairs. MOM, I FORGOT I WAS SUPPOSED TO BABYSIT TONIGHT. I'M LATE, SHE JUST TEXTED ME. CAN YOU DROP  ME OFF? CAN YOU TELL I WAS CRYING. (sort of, understatement). 

I dropped her off. Then, Curly wanted to go mini-golfing with her friends. I realized Mini never ate dinner, I texted her that I was brining her dinner on my way to mini-golf. I dropped off and picked up Ed from working out in the opposite direction. 

Too bad I'm not in school, because my WHAT DID YOU DO THIS SUMMER assignment would be a piece of cake.

 * 8/16/22 update:  We bought the navy (shall we call her 'seal' as in navy seal, or do you have other suggestions?) minivan a few days after the accident in June, so I drafted this awhile ago.  Mini has driven it. But not till mid June. Ed almost missed his train downtown one morning because Mini was driving him (in the kid car). He was like SHE WAS SO SLOW. Praise the Lord for small favors. I drove to GA in Seal and never could figure out how to get the google maps to show on that dang screen. It's been with us a few months now and it's still mostly clean. How long till you think they leave a mess in it?

I'll describe the battle with insurance another day (and Thermador's microwave nonsense), but if you'd like to take a stab in the comments at how much Allstate is offering us - be my guest. 175K miles on it. 2013 Dodge. Let's leave things here at rainbows and sunshine and a car that isn't messy YET. Oh, also a few weeks ago, Lad finally taught me how to work command central. It's incredibly cool. Would've been nice to have that up and running for my July 5th drive to Georgia. 


Nicole said...

I'm going to guess, for Allstate, that they are offering something ridiculous like $500. Am I close?

Anonymous said...

My guess from Allstate is 12K

Suzanne said...

My guess is $350.

This post made me giggle so many times, but SHEESH. SO SCARY. I am very glad that Mini is okay!

mbmom11 said...

I'm going to go higher - $2500 - not enough to buy a new car but more than the other guesses. I say this only because when our small sedan was totaled in Feb - with 175K miles on it and 2005 - we expected maybe $200 bucks. And Allstate came back with $2750. They had the money to me in 2-3 days. (I have never had trouble with Allstate and claims, but it could just be I hit the jackpot with my agent and claims adjusters).
Your seal sounds like a dream to drive. Enjoy your command center!

Beth Cotell said...

Part of me wants to guess $300 which is probably around the scrap metal value. But they would have to pay more than that so I'm going to say $1000.

ccr in MA said...

I got a new-to-me car a year ago, and started figuring out the bells and whistles, but then had to get a new command center (sounds so much better than "head unit") that took a few months to come in. And my brain just won't seem to let me figure it out! Because of COURSE it's all different from the one I was starting to understand. I need a teenager to guide me, I guess.

Colleen said...

This post was full of funny and I loved it. Now I need a kid who works for a car dealer to get this proper treatment :) Hope you get way more money for the car than you were expecting, but guessing that didn't happen.

Kara said...

I'm going to guess against the majority. Allstate offered you $6K. I've had to deal with a couple of claims (corporate, as part of my job) and it seems like insurance is currently offering higher than average payouts at this time.

Ernie said...

Nicole - Thankfully that is not close - they are offering more than that, but according my Lad who sells cars they should be offering more than that.

Ernie said...

Anonymous - I would have been overjoyed with that amount. I now wish you worked for Allstate.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - I thought what they offered was low, but this is even lower than what they are sending us. Fortunately.

I'm glad I made you laugh. I feel like that is the key, keep laughing. Mini called me the other day while she was out in the car running errands. Again with sobbing. Fortunately it was not due to a car accident and everything ended up being fine, but yikes - there are some ups and downs.

Ernie said...

mbmom - How lucky are you that you got more than you anticipated. That was not the case with us. This might have hit harder because Lad was telling us what our car would've sold for had we gotten to the point of selling it without it being totaled first. They offered us more than your guess. I'm not really happy with Allstate. We've been paying quite a bit annually, as I'm sure you can imagine, and we have been good customers - never filing a claim that I can recall. Again, it could be that with Lad's info we 'know' too much.

Seal is a dream to drive and I wish I could accomplish even more from command central, but it is quite an improvement from the car that only played CDs.

Ernie said...

Beth - They did pay us more than that, although I haven't deposited the check yet because I am trying to get them to agree to pay more.

Ernie said...

ccr - Ha. You can borrow one of my teenagers, but I'm warning you -they have their moments. I do think command center sounds better than head unit. What on earth? That doesn't even made sense. I'd accept 'car brain' or something along those lines.

Ernie said...

Colleen - Not sure you want a kid to work at a car dealership. The hours are rotten and the situation is somewhat cut-throat. It was nice to get the car purchased and send my check the next day. I think that perk was extended more because of the former babysitting gig I had than it was due to Lad's position there. He has sold a lot of cars for them, but I'm happy that he is looking for a new job. He got his first offer today. Fingers crossed that he lands somewhere that will be a good fit for him.

Glad you found this post entertaining.

Ernie said...

Kara - Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. They sent us $6K. Lad found comps for cars that were similar age and mileage and those were being sold for $10K, so we were hoping for more. Maybe we are silly to listen to our son, but he knows the market at the moment.

I won't mention how much we spent on the car, but the payout was a mere fraction of what the used Seal cost us. Sadly.

Jeanette said...

Well I'm glad Mimi is ok from the accident and seems she learned her lesson for now. Enjoy the new car!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I'm so happy that your quality babysitting skills are STILL PAYING OFF. Woot Woot! Yay for awesome lifetime connections.
I love the name as it is very clever and the seats do resemble a seal. The animal, not the military superhero guys.

I agree with the whole accident thing It kind of brings us home to what is actually important: our people.

I was going to guess 9k for the insurance peeps but saw your reply just above me. Dang it for good peripheral vision!

Bibliomama said...

We joined the leather car seats club with our last vehicle. It really extends the new car smell, is the good news. The only bad news is serious swamp-ass in the summer.
Man, you have had a run of shit luck lately. Here's hoping we're on an upswing. And way to cash in the babysitting points. Nice.

Pat Birnie said...

I loved so much abut this post - your relationship with Baby Face (why did he call you Onion?). So sweet how good things come back to you. And Mini's "I drive aggressively" comment made me laugh out loud. She is pretty unique. We bought (well, ordered but haven't received) a car that we not only didn't drive, but haven't even seen except for pictures. We decided to would replace one of our vehicles with a hybrid - there are no cars available (in Canada anyway). Will hopefully receive it 9 months after it was ordered. I've had leather seats before, but they aren't my fave (Bibliomania called it). In the summer I need to keep a towel on the drivers seat -- shorts and leather seats equal sweat.

Ernie said...

Ali - Yeah, leave it to Mini to say you're welcome after totaling our car.

Swamp ass - funny. Coach has complained about the heat radiating from the seats. I have not had any difficulty. Maybe it's because of the all-knowing command central and how quickly it cools the entire car.

Ernie said...

Jeanette - Yes, I do think she learned her lesson. A tough lesson to learn, but it is a relief that no one was hurt. Scary stuff.

Ernie said...

Suz - It has been a great connection after all these years to know my babysitting family. First, I love them and secondly, I don't have to worry about major car decisions. I trust them completely to hook me up or set me straight.

Hmm, you think the seats look seal-ish, interesting. I was thinking along the lines of Navy Seal, because the car is navy - but I don't think I showed that in the photos so clear as mud.

I would've embraced 9K. Considering that the 6K was a mere fraction of what we had to spend to get the new-used car.

Ernie said...

Pat - Oh, how I loved babysitting for this family. I loved spending time with them and would've done it for free, but they paid me handsomely. Technically Baby Face called me 'Un-in', but we always joked that he called me onion. Un-in is how he pronounced my real name.

Mini is one of a kind. She leaves in the morning for college. I'm excited for her but sad for me. Things will never be the same. Moving forward she will only be staying here temporarily. Sigh. All good and all the progress we aim for, but such a change.

Lad deals with the car shortages all the time. It is super difficult. I hope you like your new car.

Ally Bean said...

My guess is $800.00-- and an increase in your annual future premiums that just happens to be... $800.00. I'm a cynic when it comes to insurance.

Nance said...

Hm. I left a comment a long time ago, and it has not appeared here. I swear it wasn't rude, mean, or profane.

What I said was that, similar to you, I'm so happy to be able to lean on former students for so many things. I've bought a car from one, hired them for tree trimming, concrete work, and even had one for a financial advisor for many years. The Trust Factor is a huge deal, and I always appreciate doing business with someone I know and who knows and respects me.

Ernie said...

Ally - I am counting my lucky stars that it is NOT $800. It was $6,000. We think it should be more and I am trying to get the insurance company to see the light, but after encountering some huge medical bills for Reg, I'm starting to think we might just cash that $6,000 and give up on anything additional.

Ernie said...

Nance - I assure you that I never deleted a comment from you. Sorry that the internet stole your response.

Trust is the key to doing business, isn't it? I find in my babysitting too, and it goes both ways. Once a family trusts me to do my thing, they are pleasant to work with and I appreciate that trust. It also usually helps when other families are considering me, if they talk to my other families they feel like this is a safe and loving environment. Not to mention, fun!