“You can drive a stick right?”


All of the events in this blog post are painstakingly accurate.  We are currently in the process of pitching this to Larry David as a new episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Yesterday Hayden and I set out on a journey to buy a car.  Hayden has been wanting one for a while and after looking online at several options, he found one he really liked.  There aren’t any used car dealerships in DC so we set out on a voyage to Virginia. Thankfully, Hayden was plant-sitting for his old roommate Arian who said we could use her car while she was gone.

Fun fact about Virginia.  There are a lot of tolls. And by a lot, I mean that our drive was only about 50 minutes we probably passed through at least four tolls with varying prices.   The highest price for a single toll was almost $6!

Being from North Carolina, tolls are a foreign concept to me.  It feels like I’m in the Wild West and bandits have taken over the highway and I have to hand over all of my valuables if I want to continue going down the road.

I want toll roads to employ a barter system.  Like if you didn’t have any cash you could give them a starbucks gift card with $2.37 left on it and could go 20 miles. Or your air freshener is worth 10 miles.  A couple fast food bags and old receipts would get you a solid 15 miles. 

After offering the apartment as collateral for the millionth tolls we went through, we made it to the first dealership. This was a stereotypical used car dealership.  Lots of cars packed into a small corner lot on a relatively busy street.

It was also defielty a higher-end dealership than what we were looking for.  He had a lots of BMWs and a couple Maseratis, and oddly enough, one Subaru.

We took the Subaru for a test drive and it was a solid car.  The inside was nice, pretty standard features. It was also also on the large size.  And when we began thinking about all the parallel parking we would be doing in DC we began to worry it might be too big.  So we took it back to the dealership. We told the salesman that we had another dealership we wanted to look at but we’d probably be back in around an hour.

As we left the dealership we both decided we should grab something to eat so we drove and found a really cool-looking dinner.  The inside had a great ambience. Once seated, we ordered our coffee some got some amazing biscuits and gravy and eggs.

With our bellies full, we continued onto the next dealership.  It was about 30 minutes from where we were. We passed through two more tolls, and with each toll it felt as it a bit of our soul was being ripped from us.  

We turned town the road of the dealership and found that this was apparently “Used Car Alley” because there were at least ten different places to buy cars on this one row.   It took us a bit but we finally found the right spot. We walked into a very nice lobby area and told them the car we were looking for and they brought it right to the door. It was another Subaru but this one was more compact.

As Hayden was talking to the salesman William, I looked in the car and noticed it was a stick shift.  This was a surprise to me because I thought it was an automatic. When I brought this up he said “Oh yeah, I can drive stick.  I mean it’s been a while but it’s like riding a bike right? You never really forget.”

As it turns out, it’s not.

We took our seats in the car and Hayden started the engine.  He put it into gear and we lurched forward almost hitting another car on the lot.  Hayden assured me that he was “just a little rusty.” And after some jolts in the parking lot we made our way out onto the open road and things got much smoother.

There was a small development with cookie-cutter houses close to dealership that seemed like a good place to do some light test-driving.  As we slowed down Hayden shifted between gears with less ease. Going between 1st and 2nd gear became much less seamless.

Then we made a fateful turn onto a dead end.  The Subaru slowed to a stop and the engine cut off.  That was when we found out that he couldn’t get the stick to go from neutral to reverse.  We were in tight spot. We were out of road and there was no way to turn around without reversing.  Hayden tried several times to get it into reverse but, alas, it was all in vain.

We now had two choices.  One, we call William and tell him that we are stranded in suburban Hell, have him come pick us up and then definitely not be able to buy a car from him or one of us was going to have to push the car.  The choice was simple. We simply wouldn’t jeopardize our newfound friendship with William. And since my foot is still in a boot, Hayden was going to have to be the one to push the car around 75 feet by himself while I steered.

I moved to the driver’s seat as Hayden went to the front of the car.  Not since my bout with The Blue Couch have I seen such an impressive display of sheer strength.  It was very much like the woman who lifted her car off off her kid. It was a beautiful display of the human will.

We rounded the corner and got the car facing back onto the road.  Hayden took back the driver’s seat and we set off, with several more lurches, back to the dealership.  Hayden parked the car on the other side of the building so William wouldn’t see him trying to park. So we stopped it somewhat in the middle of the road and went back inside.

Once inside, William asked “How was it?”  “Well, it was alright, but the clutch was a little sticky.” And that was that.

He then told us about some other cars he had and Hayden found a 2014 Ford Focus with 56,000 miles on it that he really liked. So we took it for a test drive and it was much smoother.  After the test drive Hayden decided to get the car.

So we began the process of buying the car.  We had to talk to Hayden’s mom, Elyse several times because she was co-signing with Hayden.  But this proved to be difficult because she was at a drum circle and it was hard to hear. But despite that, we got the information we needed and moved on to another office to do the final paperwork.

With the last piece of paper signed, Hayden was officially the owner of a car! But because of my foot, I couldn’t drive the new car back so we left it there and planned on going back the next day with another friend to pick it up.

I wish I could tell you this is where the journey ended.  But unfortunately, there were a few more woes to be had.

We woke up the next morning and had some coffee and watch a little CBS Sunday morning before heading back to the dealership.  Hayden’s friend Emily joined us for the return trip. It was smooth sailing for the whole trip there. We actually didn’t hit any tolls or any traffic.  We got to the dealership shortly after it had opened and got the car and made set out for home.

We decided before we left to meet at a nice diner in Virginia to get some breakfast.  On the way back we hit several tolls but this didn’t dampen our spirits. We had a car now!  Just think of all the groceries we could now get! Up until this point, each time I went to the store I had to decide whether I was going to get milk or beer because getting both would be too heavy to carry back to our apartment so I had to choose only one.  (9 times out of 10, the beer won out.)

When we arrived at the diner there were no parking spaces open in the parking lot so Hayden drove out and found an adjacent lot where the were several open spots.  We checked around and didn’t see any “No Parking” signs so we parked and left the car and made our way into the diner.

Once we had finished eating we headed back to the car, only the car wasn’t there.  We looked around and saw a small sign that said “No Parking. Car will be towed at ower’s expense.”  This was the only sign in the huge parking lot. It was clearly a trap.

Hayden ran back to catch Emily, who was driving his new car, before she left.  She drove back and picked me up while Hayden called the tow company. It was only about five minutes away from us.  We drove to the tow lot and Hayden went inside and paid the fee and got the car back. It was the most expensive breakfast he’d ever eaten.  

After all that, both cars are safely parked in our neighborhood and neither of us will ever have to choose between beer and milk again.



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