Tape deck for sale.

Today was a ridiculous day.

It started on Sunday when I got a phone call between church services from a frantic, frustrated sister telling me that she needed a ride to the second service because her green 1995 Grand Am wouldn’t start.

“Apparently, something seems to be wrong with the fuel pump… on top of a leaking radiator, leaking hoses, suspension problems, misalignment and several other miscellaneous and asundary problems.”

From there, it was all about trying to decide whether to get her old 95 Grand Am with a troublesome quad-thinger fixed or simply go find her a new car.

So what to do? She can either fix an eleven-year-old car that has multiple problems or get something that is likely to have fewer problems.

We decided to opt for the latter… so yesterday evening, we all went out car-shopping.

First, we went to the local Auto Imports dealer to see what they had. While there, I wanted to go check out the new Toyota Yaris Liftback that I’ve recently fallen in love with. It’s kinda like Toyota’s answer to the Mini Cooper; complete with MP3 player and socket for you to plug in your own audio sources. She gets 40-42 miles to the gallon and looks like just a plain-ol’ fun car.

My skepticism was mostly that it would have terrible visibility. That happened to me when I fell in love with the PT Cruiser six years ago. Turns out, the visibility is just right… and come November, I’m gonna try to snag myself one in black, full options, with a few little extras to boot.

The one they had in the showroom was the only one they had, so it was their display model. Incidentally, it was also sold. So while I was making a mess on someone else’s dashboard, drooling all over it, kicking someone else’s tires, slamming their doors and trunk, and generally envying some other person I don’t even know, my cell phone rang.

Apparently, the rest of my party was done looking at their used cars and were all stuffed in the car, calling for me to come out.

I wiped the drool from my mouth, slammed the driver-side door in envy one last time, got in my car and we proceeded to caravan around a few scary parts of town, looking for another auto dealership.

Finally, we found one that looked promising and we all piled out. The dealership was closed, but that’s ok. We weren’t really wanting a pushy checkered-suit salesperson to bug us too much during our preliminary search.

Ruth found a 98 Honda Civic, a 96 Infinity G20, and an 02 Nissan Sentry. They were all comparably priced within her range, so we wrote down their features, mileage and VIN numbers to do some more indepth comparison research for later at home.

While we were out there looking around, a salesman, who happened to be passing by, drove up and began talking to us.

…and talking and talking and talking to us.

About a half-hour later, as we pulled away, glad to have been helped, but even more glad to have escaped the ever-talking salesman, we compared notes and began processing the evening’s find.

We got back and immediately began looking up the three models of cars that we found, looking for information that would help us limit down to a single and best-choice.

We found that all three had stellar reliability ratings, were fairly priced at their age/mileage/feature ratios and all got about the same mile-per-gallon rating. Great. Now what?

I decided to look up the vehicle histories on Carfax, so we bought an account and began looking stuff up… that really helped to bring things into perspective. The Honda had been in 5 previous accidents, one of which was rated a “moderate” collision that impeded its functionality. The other two had been in minor dings or scrapes, but otherwise looked like healthy picks.

So this morning, we went to the car dealer to test drive our favorite picks and see if we could get the ball rolling on getting Ruth a car.

We got there around 9:30, but no one was there, even though the sign said they opened at 9:00… not a good sign since both Ruth and I took the morning off to get this done.

Fortunately, the guy we spoke with… er… listened to from the night before gave us a business card with phone numbers on it.

Unfortunately, one of the numbers seemed to be out of service.

Fortunately, the other one was in service.

Unfortunately, no one answered.

Fortunately, around 9:45, someone finally rolled into the lot to give us some help.

He pulled in, wearing a bathrobe, yawning and scratching himself and asked if anyone had helped us yet… this was just adding insult to injury to our already great day.

Ok, it wasn’t *quite* that bad with the bathrobe and everything, but in Paul-land, some things get exaggerated.

9:45 is not an exaggeration.

Moving on… we test drove the Nissan, followed by the Infiniti.

After a bit of deliberation, weighing pro’s and con’s, Ruth decided the Nissan was probably the best fit.

We had the guy draw up the paper-work, noted a couple of things we wanted them to take a look at on the Nissan and headed off to get some lunch, while we waited for everything to get approved and fixed.

After a satisfying lunch, we headed out to the parking lot, only to discover that keys had been locked in the car.

Fortunately, we owned a set of spare keys.

Unfortunately, the spares were left in a laptop bag.

Fortunately, we happened to bring the laptop bag with us that day.

Unfortunately, the laptop bag was locked in the car.

So, as we peered in through the windows, hands spread out on the glass, earnestly willing the keys to NOT BE IN THE INGITION, I called my roadside assist guys and had them come rescue us.

I was supposed to be to work by 1:30 that afternoon for a meeting, but since the keys had been locked in the car and the paper work was still not finished being prepared, that was not going to happen. Embarrassed, I called in to work to have them move the meeting time for me and we went on about our day of signing more papers seeing to it that repairs were made to our satisfaction and getting me to my rescheduled 2:30 meeting.

All that to say this: we now have a 1995 Grand Am tape deck for sale in front of our apartment, if anyone’s interested. Incidentally, a green 1995 Grand Am comes pre-attached… $1 or free.