fiber diva

This is the chronicle of one woman's forays into knitting, crocheting, spinning, embroidery, papercrafts, and whatever else catches my fancy at any given time. Oh, and I talk about my cats a lot, too.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Adventures in car shopping

So, about the car---the car is actually a happy story, not that I thought that when I was in the throes of buying the thing. I'm telling you with a sigh---I hate car shopping! Hate it. This, in a nutshell, is how I ended up having an 11-year-old car with 157,000 miles on it to trade in. Not because it was a classic. Not because I couldn't bear to part with it (though I did think is was a good car and was sad to see it go). Not because people didn't encourage (ok, push, with varying degrees of subtlety) me to buy a new car. (I mean, even my mechanic starting telling me I should get a new car, and I'm pretty sure my old one put his kid through private school). No, it's because I HATE car shopping.
The simple fact is that I'm not "a car person." Usually when people ask me what I want in a car, my honest answer is "an engine that starts every time I twist the key, and seats." Ok, sure, a radio is always nice to have, and working windshield wipers, although not thrilling, certainly have their place in the grand scheme (not to mention rain and snowstorms).

But, not being a car person, I just keep thinking it's a lot of work and a lot of money, and I can't bring myself to feel a sense of adventure. I'm not a huntress, stalking her quarry across the flat plains of the new car lots, snarling my way through the tall grass of car salesmen; I'm not a cagey entrepreneur, using her steely nerves to out-negotiate the next Donald Trump wannabe to get a killer deal; I'm not even a latter-day Philip Marlowe, tough talking the gents and dames of the car business through a haze of old cigarette smoke, with the sharp tang of whiskey still on my breath.

I'm just a simple woman, who'd like to buy a decent car, for not more than she has to pay. Seems simple, doesn't it? If only......

I started out with quite a bit of internet and library research. But the sad fact is that no matter how many numbers one has looked up in a book or on-line, eventually---all the happy "Buy a Car Without Haggling" magazine articles be darned---eventually, you will find yourself sitting across from an intently staring "sales manager" saying, "no, really, as I told the salesperson (15 times at latest count, in fact [Yeah, I wish I were exaggerating.]), I'm really not going to buy the car today. Really, I'm still shopping."

Shopping. I was shopping! Have these people never heard of shopping?

I'm a woman---I shop! It's what I do, and I'm good at it!

But, apparently, car dealers are unfamiliar with shopping. Oh, they've apparently heard the word. But they don't, as in simply do NOT, understand the concept. Shopping, to them, apparently means, "look at the car, sit in the car, buy the car." What is that? That? Is not *shopping*.

Car dealers, I found, have no clue about shopping. They don't understand the "browse." They are distrustful of the "considering stare" (as you wonder how long it will take for the two-toned interior you currently think of as "interesting" to start to annoy the bejabbers out of you). And the concept of "seeing everything before I decide"? Is an anathema.

It seems perfectly reasonable to me that even if the first car I see is a nice color with an options package I can live with, I must still wander through the rest of the lot, looking at all the cars (of the model I'm considering). Even the cars with a different engine type (6 cylinder, for example). Even the cars that are a color I originally said I didn't want. They just don't get that.

And you can't explain to a car dealer (at least I couldn't) that you do this, not to delay the sale, or to wear them down, or even to cast doubts on the quality of the first car. You do this because you must. Because you might miss something that you like better. Because you might decide that, from a distance, the white one is kinda nice after all.

Or as I finally explained in exasperation to one particularly persistent sales guy, "look, I visit a dress three times in a shop before I invest $50 in it; I'm certainly not going to spend three years of monthly payments on the first car I put under my butt!" (Again, I wish I were exaggerating.)
Finally resorting to the bane of relationship breakups everywhere, I mournfully explained to a sharp-faced sales manager, who I'm sure didn't mean to stare at me as if I were a strange and tiresome new breed of bug, "It's not you, it's me; I just really need more time."

I'm pleased to say, though, that I got through this little experiment in annoying the customer as a sales technique, and eventually found a nice younger fellow who did not insist on talking about monthly payments or leasing, but just sat down and negotiated with me on the bottom line price of the car that I wanted (after wandering patiently behind me, with nary an eye-roll, as I looked at every single Sonata on the lot!).

And I ended up with a decent car, in a color I like, for a price my research told me was reasonable. And, it came standard with an engine that starts every time I turn the key, seats, a radio AND windshield wipers (as well as curtain side airbags). I had to pay extra for the sunroof, but I'm ok with that.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Time Flies and Times Change

Trying not to wait so long between posts, but it's been busy here in diva-land. Since around my last post, I've bought a car, finished and blocked the scarf for my scarf pal, had a mini-vacation, had a spinning wheel delivered, and, after much sturm, drang, and consternation, had one of my nieces move in with me.

Of course, that last thing is the biggest, but since it's a long story, and a long story not all of which is mine to tell, I'm going to give it an abbreviated mention for the moment. I'll just say that she's been having some trouble finding her way in the world (complicated by a learning disability and some other issues), and yadda, yadda, yadda (as Seinfeld would say) so now she's staying with me.
After some initial trepidation on both sides, she and the cats have reached a wary detente, and Charlotte even let her scratch her head the other night. Since I have cat-loving friends who think Charlotte is a figment of my imagination, so consistently does she hide when strangers (ie, people who aren't me) come over, I'm taking that as quite a positive sign. Other than that, we're taking a day at a time.
The other changes are happier, and I'll post about them tomorrow.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Late, late, late report from Maryland Sheep and Wool!

Well, I'm certainly taking my time to report on it, but I had a terrific time at my very first Maryland Sheep and Wool festival, despite some family worries that came up just as our happy little group was getting to Maryland. My sister, who'd had hip-replacement surgery in late Feb and seemed to be recovering nicely, developed "extensive" blood clots in her lungs, and, instead of her planned trip to Florida with friends, ended up taking a trip to the emergency room on that Friday instead. In fact, I almost ended up going home as quick as I’d gotten there (and thanks so much to Pat for offering to drive me back!). But she and other family members assured me that she was in good hands and doing ok and that I should stay.

I’m happy to report that she’s not only out of the hospital again now, but also doing well, and back to rehabbing her hip. (In fact, as she mentions with some pride, she's now walking up to .73 of a mile!)

As for MS&W, I really enjoyed myself. With all the crowds, I was really glad that I had experienced friends to follow along with. With their help, I think I managed to see just about everything that was there. Including a number of handsome sheep. Some of these guys were so cute, I had to be reminded several times of that wonderful old truism: "people who live in townhouses shouldn't shop for sheep." Not even really tiny little adorable ones (or are these goats?)
And if the sheep and goats were tempting, the bunnies were even more so. Of course, there is the question of how the cats would like the bunnies. But I'm pretty sure the cats would loooove bunnies. (I'm only afraid they'd love them to death!) The larger question is how the bunnies would feel about the cats. Ultimately, I was able to resist, partially because I genuinely believe that I'd never get a bit of fiber off the bunnies (because Emma would groom them bare before I even started to pluck!) and partially because (and thanks, Rosie, for reminding me ;-) although we could probably make room in the car for a compact spinning wheel if I found one I wanted, we really had no way to transport bunnies.
It's not that I didn't know that. It's just that when I'm faced with any animal that is cute, cuddly, unusual, or furry in interesting ways, I can totally forget my common sense. I want it, and I sometimes have trouble resisting, no matter how dumb, stubborn, or inappropropriate to my lifestyle said animal is. This explains why I owned a lizard that I had to buy live crickets for for about 6 years. (Oh, wow. Come to think of it, that also explains much of my dating history, too.....hmmmmm.)

Anyway, speaking of wheels, I never did decide on one when I was there. I think I was overstimulated. (Picture a small child in a candy factory!) I just had too much that I was trying to look at, fondle, and mentally calculate how much room it would take up in the car. Course, that didn't stop me from "visiting" with various spinning wheels as we wandered!

But we didn't only wander. I also had a great time sitting on the lawn at the fairgrounds, seeing what everyone was working on.

So, thanks everyone, especially Pat, for driving and coming out of her way to get me and take me; Pam and Justin for helping make room for me in the car; and (last but not least) Rosie and Sarah for being great roomies and patiently dragging me around! Can't wait till next year!