My trusty little Honda Civic died in the middle of the Fourth of July weekend. We’d been together for 13 years. Like anybody trying to pick up the pieces after a long-term relationship, I knew I had to get back out there or I’d find myself alone on the interstate, hitching my way to work. After an appropriate period of mourning and visits to the loan officer at my credit union, I would need a new car.
I would also need to go about it differently this time around. The last time I was looking for a car, a Republican was in the White House and Netflix still sent me DVDs. A lot has changed on the scene since then.
This is when I realized that my online dating experience could guarantee me a happy outcome: I would find the car of my dreams.
Like most women of my generation, I have looked for love in a lot of places, including online. I have filled out questionnaires, written witty profiles, swiped right and left. Over the years, I have acquired a lot of skill in this particular area. Skills that I thought had no use outside of searching for a soul mate.
I realized that I could do online research first so that I wouldn’t have to go on a series of bad dates with car salesmen of questionable ethics. When I was buying my first car right after college, the salesman called me “honeybunch.” My 20-something feminist self almost broke his nose. I wanted to buy my next car with a minimum of righteous outrage, personal embarrassment or excessive debt. Email seemed the best way to make this happen.
I picked a car-shopping app that promised to connect me with my dream car at a dream price. I filled out a form with my personal info, wants and must-haves. When looking for love, I am usually super-specific on this type of form. My searches always come back empty with a polite automated request not to be so picky. So when car shopping, I made sure to broaden my search. I wanted not just a stylish car, but also a safe and reliable one that wouldn’t swallow my paycheck or crumple up like an accordion if rear-ended on the freeway.
My search criteria yielded a good selection of cars with all kinds of attractive extras, such as a sunroof, Bluetooth and those awesome rear-view backup cameras. These options are infinitely preferable to the somewhat less attractive extras that come with 30-something prospective suitors: mountains of law school debt, an almost psychotic obsession with the New York Knicks and a trunk full of baggage from a crazy ex-girlfriend or two.
I decided on two or three models and let local dealers know I wanted to buy a car, and I wanted to buy it now.
Once the word got out that I was in the market for a new car, my phone was constantly buzzing with calls and emails. I felt like Scarlett O’Hara at the Twelve Oaks barbecue. This also happens when I post a new profile on a dating site. But this time, “Hey, Pretty Lady, wanna chat?” was replaced with “Hey, Pre-Approved Buyer, wanna come over for a test drive?” Experience taught me to delete those canned replies immediately.
It took a few tries before I finally found my car. The first misfire was at a fancy luxury dealership. Against my better judgment, I went to test-drive a used model of a luxury car mostly within my budget. I knew it wasn’t going to work before I even got there. It was as if I were pursuing the roguish bad boy I knew was out of my league — ultimately not worth the trouble. The salesman kept me waiting for 45 minutes, claiming he couldn’t find the car I was interested in. Then he tried to sell me a more expensive car. I left without even seeing the car I liked; annoyed, relieved and just grateful he didn’t try to call me honeybunch.
Then I met my perfect car: a beautiful royal blue Honda small enough to squeeze into the tiniest compact parking spot and powerful enough to pass a tractor-trailer on the highway. I emailed the dealer with the lowest price. He invited me up to see the car; this time, there were no unpleasant surprises.
The great thing about looking for a car online, I realized, is that when you finally go to see it, it looks exactly like its pictures. It’s not 10 years older, four inches shorter or 20 pounds heavier. So when we went out to the lot, it was sitting there in all its shiny, new-car glory. When I got in for the test drive, I knew we were meant to be together.
The car-buying process intimidates almost everyone, especially women who think they need a man to help them negotiate. We all have the skills and the brains to do a lot of things we’ve never done before.
When filling out the paperwork for my new ride, I realized that it took less than two weeks to buy this car with a minimum amount of stress, expense and barely any human contact.
I now have a cute, safe, reliable car to take me wherever I want to go whenever I’m ready to go. I’m confident my car isn’t going to complain about my music selection or about how long it waited for me to get ready. The best part of all, my new little car won’t leave me stranded when I need it the most.