Recently, my wife and I bought a new car; it was her idea really. I pointed out to her that we had two perfectly good cars already, and only two people with licences in the house.
My wife – who has a bad habit of backing up her points with incontrovertible evidence – pointed out our eldest child has a learner’s permit, which is a subject I do not like to think about in the same way that most people do not like to think about Freddy Krueger.
My wife also pointed out the elder of our two cars did not exactly live up to the description of ‘perfectly good’, in that any time we take it for a drive, pieces of it tend to fall off. I pointed out this made the car lighter, thus increasing its fuel efficiency and making it better for the environment, and asked her why she hated the planet so much.
She – rather unfairly using the dirty trick of iron-clad logic – pointed out the people who built the car in the first place probably had a purpose for all the pieces they put on it, and the car’s performance may well be sub-optimal without them. Given that she seemed pretty fired up about the issue – and the fact the car in question is so old its air bags probably pre-date the invention of air – I gave up.
In truth I wasn’t opposed to the idea of getting a new car, it is just the actual process of buying it is one which I look forward to with the same enthusiasm I reserve for root canal surgery. This is because car salespeople have KPIs which seem to require that they sell a new car approximately every four minutes.
They address this by lurking in wait and, as soon as anyone – even they guy who reads the water meter – enters the car yard, the salespeople pounce like a drop-bear that hasn’t eaten a British tourist for several days, and sometimes get into fights over the right to bore the potential customer to death by listing the car’s 1355 special features, none of which appears to be locomotion.
For this reason, I enter car yards as stealthily as possible, creeping around fences and dodging behind cars, all the while trying to remember the sneaky commando tricks my Dad taught me. Unfortunately most of them require possession of a weapon and wearing camouflage, which is exactly the sort of thing that attracts fairly negative attention from the police, so I tend not to do it.
What I really need when car shopping is one of those camouflage suits the aliens in the Predator movies have.1 I would love to stroll around being effectively invisible, and when I had found the car I like, simply materialise beside a salesperson and scare the living daylights out of them. Then when they pass out I can just drive off with the car.2
Of course, it is for that sort of reason that the authorities who keep the dead aliens in Roswell would never let me (or any normal bloke) get a hold of that technology – we simply couldn’t be trusted. Spider-Man may think that with great power comes great responsibility, but your average man in the street thinks that with great power comes the opportunity to mess with people.
Let’s face it, if your average bloke had the power of invisibility, he would use it mostly to avoid doing the dishes and to put whoopee cushions on the chairs at state funerals and solemn religious ceremonies. The only males you could let have this technology are those who have a sense of responsibility; those who don’t have the same overall emotional maturity of a puppy school; those who, let’s face it, don’t actually exist.
In any event, bereft of invisibility suits and weapons, I had to speak to car salespeople, and listen to them rattle off features like 360-degree cameras, turbo-charged carpet and environmentally sustainable hub caps. I am glad I did though, because we did get a new car and it is awesome.
We got a Nissan “StartswithQandIcan’t pronounceit’. The great thing about the car is that it comes with hundreds of – and apologies for getting technical here – ‘gadgets’. It is the first car I have ever had that has a ‘settings’ menu. I don’t know what any of them do, but it is comforting to know they are there. This car also talks to us through our phones, and can probably pass the New York Bar Exam.
In fact, the only real problem with our new car is that it does look disturbingly like some of the robots from the future in the Terminator franchise3 and I have no idea what it does while we are asleep. I think it is just sitting out there, preparing for admission to the New York Bar, formulating a theory to unite gravity and the other three forces, that sort of thing.
It might, of course, be sitting there plotting the overthrow of the government (it is certainly more clever than most politicians you can name, although for that matter so is your pocket calculator) and the extermination of humanity. If that happens, remember that all this was my wife’s idea.
In the meantime, if anyone wants to buy a car so decrepit that the car yard would not take it in trade, give me a call; I guarantee you it is still better than anything any articled clerk was driving in the 80s.
© Shane Budden 2023
1 If you haven’t seen Predator, you had better, because I am pretty sure the Pope said they won’t let you into heaven if you haven’t; no, I don’t have a reference.
2 Ha ha! That is just a joke! I would never steal a car; on an unrelated note, you are not allowed to look in my back yard.
3 Another one on the ‘get into heaven’ list.