So Tuesday I headed up to Des Moines to get my eyes checked, and eventually came to the startling discovered that they were gray, same as always...
But along the way, I car dealer hopped. The unintended consequence of that was spending the night and setting out as soon as things opened the next morning, but not getting to the eye doctor until nearly 2 pm on Wed. His first open appointment was at 3:30, so I made sure my old frames would still work, ate some lunch, and went back. From there, I walked across the corridor to the lenscrafters place and got the prescription filled. They have a one hour guarantee. I had to really push to get BACK before they closed at 9... In my new car.
At the first Indianola car place, Noble Ford/Mercury, I slowed down ten feet inside the lot, looking at a blue Taurus. Instantly, a buyer's assistant was in attendance, and what a gem he was! I tried the Taurus and DID NOT like it at all. The Mercury Sable was nice, but my mom had one that didn't hold up well. The salesman's assistant there was my pick of all the guys I dealt with -- a soft-spoken fellow named Pat Nichols just recently up from Mississippi. We hit it off great, and I kept cracking him up accidentally.
I also drove a used Saturn that was there on the lot just because of the way I'd heard they were built. The strong cleaner smell was trapped in the car, so poor Pat cried all through that test drive, yet remained cheerful. helpful, and upbeat. (1-800-383-1400 and ask for Pat if you want a low pressure, honest experience as you pick out your auto. I'd be in one of his cars if I picked by way I was treated. And, NO. I did NOT resurrect my southern accent when I talked to him!)
From there I checked out the Impalas, as the local dealer had one that I thought was high. The salesman would not give me a price, so when I left, he was out of the running. He wanted me to look at everything else, then come back.
Eventually I got up on Hickman Road, hunting for the Honda place, and ran into Subaru and Mazda. Some of the Mazda seats were not comfy, but one in the sales room WAS, and the salesman could not tell me why it was different from the ones outside that I'd test driven. No dealing on them, as they could not keep them in stock. That same dealership carried Pontiac and one salesman was miffed with me when I just flat out said he could not sell me a Pontiac as I'd read the "safest car" stuff from consumer reports just before coming. I think they need to hear that SAFETY COUNTS with consumers.
Well, that put the car business to bed, and also was the closing time at the mall, and I had not even made it TO Merle Hay to see the eye doctor... Motel time. Now, DM is FULL of overnight places, and also has a pretty steep bed tax, so I tried for one at Ankeny, not knowing if they were close enough in to be included. Oh, well. Call it "Summer Vacation Trip"...
I used the phone book in the motel to list new car dealers in the area, and could NOT believe the length of the list. I began and ended at Jordan Motors Accura, Audi, Infinity, (forgot one) and VW. For nostalgia's sake, I drove the reincarnated Beetle. Nobody would recognize my old college car, either price or features, in the 2004's I saw. It passed along every bump in the road, and my body has aged past where that is a pleasant experience. I sat in a Jetta, didn't even ask about the golf, and made sure I drove the P one with the French name... which was nice, but had a bit stiff suspension system and seats that flared up on the sides where I flare out. I guess you have to be college student sized, too. I loved their ads, as always.
Frustrated, the salesman told me to sit in the Audi's seat. Yep, it sure was comfy, but at twice my money, just wasn't going to happen. (Move, you seven geldings, move! But seriously, even then, I would not want to spend that much on wheels to get to school every day...)
One of my test drives, I toured the lot, as the gas mileage figures for the cars seemed lower than expected. I saw an "A" car with a rating of 34 as I was driving past these hundreds of cars. When I told the salesman, he could not come up with the name of the car. Each different car name was in a different building, and used cars in between, so I did not know if he could not sell from the other lots, or what.
I took a walk and found the ones I'd seen, an Accura sub compact. He brought around a "regular" Accura, mid range. Hey, I'm dumb. When they put random appearing letters after the different car names, I don't recognize which is which. The sub compact's started with R. Good mnemonic for a subcompact, which has NO R at all in it word you categorize the thing by... SO, off I go in the middle car, and it is seriously nice. Driving the compact afterward killed it totally. The seat was just as comfy, but I could feel every bump in the road. Now I was frustrated. I'd driven one car about 5,000 or 6,000 out of my price range (which I'd promised myself I would NOT do before I started out on this odyssey) and was hooked. But, short of selling tons more geldings, I wasn't going to be able to get there.
He solved the problem with one of three formerly leased cars -- two yearlings with 45,000 or so on them, and one 2001 that was at 31 thousand. Since it was not the MID range, but the top one, I thought I couldn't do it, but he shoehorned it into my range, gave me $300 trade in for the Beamer, faxed the contract to the credit union, and I was off to get my glasses, 15 minutes before te mall closed, and about a five minute drive away, depending on the traffic.
Now, in the useless features department, this one has GOLD trim for the names, fancy wheel covers, wooden walnut shift knob, "his and hers" seat warmers controlled separately with "high," "low," and "off" positions, a button to press which prevents a valet parking key from being able to unlock the glove compartment or the trunk, (I'm nearly 59 years old and have yet to have a "valet" park one of my vehicles...) a removeable cargo net in the trunk to keep things in place, and a stereo radio/cd set up better than the one in most people's homes, including unique ways of adjusting 8 or 10 types of sounds (I lucked out -- once the salesman realized I was tuning all the radios to WOI -fm, he began doing it for me as he brought the cars up, and while introducing me to all the features on MY car, pulled in that station and did the adjustments as he talked,) 12 presetable fm channels and 6 am ones, more than the total number of radio stations of any kind in our area, much less ones I want to listen to. No bodies stored in this trunk, either. There's a release button on the INSIDE, and a poke through space for carrying things too long to fit in the trunk.
In the "oh, wow! That will be nice" feature department, when you turn on the rear window de-icer, it also de-ices the outside mirrors. Since ICE is what we generally get, that is seriously good news. The touch pad mirror adjustments were also great. The sensor tells you the outside temp. then the heater lists the indoor temp. Setting the temp desired, "auto" then either using "recycled" or flow through allows the car to automatically adjust everything. Places on the wheel not only let you do the cruise control once it is turned on, but adjust the volume on the radio, etc. Part of encouraging people to keep their eyes on the road, I assume.