Chuck has treated me like a queen since I have arrived in Illinois, doting on me, bringing home flowers, helping out with chores around the house, and spending his free time with me. Even queens are susceptible to cabin fever in the winter, or should that be "castle fever?" Not having a car while my husband is earning money for our little kingdom, I have taken off on foot, getting to know our village a little better.
|The king of the castle is not above helping with chores.|
We knew I would need a car soon, but I had been content to wait because I had been busy nesting; decorating, rearranging, cleaning, and organizing. My hours of solitude had been filled with writing, and reading about writing.
Chuck was worried I was feeling deprived without a car, but I knew we only had the weekends to go car shopping, and I just dreaded looking for a car; I'd rather spend our free time together doing fun things, and find other ways to entertain myself during the week that don't require a car.
Car shopping is one of my least favorite things to do. I'm just not "into" cars. As long as I can get from Point A to Point B, without a breakdown, mental or mechanical, I'm good. I don't want to pore over classified ads, Car Fax profiles, and back issues of Consumer Reports. I don't want a salesman to try to try to talk me into a car I already told him I don't want. I don't like to write out checks that fill up the whole amount line with number words.
But when you need a car, what do you do? You go car shopping. UGH.
LUCKILY, I have a husband who seems to love doing the research, comparing makes, models, and ratings. Thanks to him, we pretty much knew what we wanted the weekend we knew we were going to buy a car, and we bought the first car we took for a test drive, but NOT the first car the salesman showed us, and NOT the first car the salesman recommended. We had told him we wanted a Japanese or Korean car, and we had come to see the Nissan Elantra advertised for $3,000.
We followed him across the damp parking lot, stepping over piles of snow that had been left by the snowplows. My first glance at the gold sedan, and all I could think was, "Great. It looks like a grandma car."
Trying to keep an open mind, I sat down to start it, not noticing what Chuck did; there were no door handles on the car, just the remnants of the mechanism still attached to the door. It took a couple moments for the engine to turn over after I turned the key.
While the car idled, Chuck asked me to pop the trunk. I never did find the trunk release, but when I attempted to pull the gas cover latch release, the lever was not attached to anything, and was lying on the floor, without any way to make it work.
"Um, Chuck, we're done here." He gave me a silent nod.
"I wouldn't sell you a car like this anyway," said Mr. Salesman. How interesting that he would mention that, since it really seemed like he would gladly let us take it off his hands, if we wanted to pay the full asking price.
Chuck and I had a quick conversation, and decided we would have to pull a little more money from the royal coffers to get a dependable, decent car. We told the salesman he could show us something a little nicer, something with door handles and functioning latches would be nice.
Our little man scurried back across the showroom floor with a smile on his face, and told us he had a nice little Cobalt we might like. We both just shook our heads at him. We were adamant about buying a Toyota, Hyundai, or Honda, having had positive experiences with those cars. His face fell, and then his eyes lit up. "Just a sec, I'll be right back. We had a car come in just yesterday you might like; a Toyota Camry."
Now he was talking. Yes, it had just come in, as in, no one had had a chance to detail the car and spritz it with "new car scent." There was trash on the floor, and where baby car seats had once been, the backseat was now full of cereal crumbs, dried milk splatters, and melted chocolate. Purely cosmetic problems. We could work with that.
The Camry started right up for me. Yes, we wanted to test drive it. Still unfamiliar with the roads, I asked Chuck to drive, so we played a quick game of musical chairs, and Chuck noticed the driver's sun visor was missing.
"How hard are these to find?" Chuck asked into the rearview mirror, as he tapped on the ceiling where the visor should be.
"Not hard at all," he said as he rummaged around in the backseat. "Here you go. It was in the pocket behind you." He flashed us a grin. Well, that was less than ideal, but we didn't let that stop us. We were getting tired and hungry as our lunchtime drew closer. After a quick little test drive, we told him we would take it.
DONE! Well, sort of. Finishing involved a good hour or two of hanging out in the showroom while they did the paper work, and we signed for the title. We were told they would detail the car while we went to lunch.
We celebrated at Portillo's, and then after a little more autographing of documents, we were both on our way home in our his and hers Toyotas. Chuck did some quick rearranging of the royal garage, and a little more shoveling of snow off of the driveway, and our mission was accomplished.
What a relief to have that dreaded task done. Now I have wheels at my disposal. I look forward to exploring the kingdom of Saint Charles far and wide now. Just call me the Queen of the Road.