October 11, 2003

Manual transmission pro

...not quite. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After I got to Chicago, I walked over and caught the El out to Harlem, where Lee and Kelly (and Loren!) picked me up and drove me out to Schaumburg. My agent met me at the door and sat me down and first off insisted on trying to get me a lower rate loan. Whatever; it seemed easier at that point to just let them run the check. In retrospect, I would've gotten out of there a lot faster otherwise....

Chuck ran over to the BMW dealer next door (same owner, and where they handle all the financing and title transfer stuff), then came back and showed me the car. So many neat features. The volume control on the stereo? On the back of the steering wheel. Also buttons to switch input types and cycle through presets (or skip tracks on CDs). The cup holders? Two for coffee cups and cans, and one big honkin' one for the mad huge 32oz cups you sometimes get.

Then we head over to the BMW dealer to wrap stuff up. I waited forever and a day (meanwhile Lee et al are still hanging out at the Mini dealer), and this greasy fellow comes out who I take an instant dislike to. But I smile and remain polite, as he tries to get me to use their financing. Which was, to be sure, cheaper; but by about $7 a month, or a few hundred across the term of the loan. I hemmed and hawed, and decided that it was worth that much to me to keep my money in Galesburg on this one (and to not have to go back and undo the loan---by paying it off right away, of course, but still, bleh). I also pointed out that this didn't account for the $75 service fee that was essentially an early payoff penalty. This guy dissed on my bank: "you're paying them money to loan you money? Some setup." Which came within a hairsbreadth of making fun of me, not to mention, that's how loans work. He continued: "Must be some bank, if you're willing to pay them $400 extra." Yeah, or maybe there are factors other than saving a buck at work here. Jerk. Anyway, at this point he says, "Oh, I made a mistake, I can save you $600 over the term of the loan." I wonder just how low I could've driven the rate, but at this point, I wasn't giving this guy a penny more than the cost of the car.

And yet he launches in on a new tack. Now he's trying to sell me extended warranty, extended maintenance, and dings and dents service. Had these been offered earlier, I might've considered them. I asked if I could add the extended warranty later---yes---and if it would cost more---yes---and how much? "I can't tell you." Yeah, I bet. So I have no idea if an extra two years on my warranty is worth what they're charging ($1800), and of course this is a hard sell to get me to spend it. Not only did I want more time to think about it, but I simply couldn't have; I had a loan for the cost of the car, and don't at the moment have the cash to pay more than that. I didn't bother to point this out to him, because it would've just launched him into another pitch for a loan.

Finally, I was able to get out of there. I got my keys, I got the registration, I'm all set. And I'm starving. We decide to get Indian food, and I try to learn to drive stick shift.

Now, the theory's fine, and I've even managed to drive sticks before on three occasions. But I must've stalled about ten times getting out of that parking spot. (I was letting out the clutch too fast.) Once I got the hang of gassing up and slowly letting off the clutch, I was golden. Well, sort of. At one point, while turning around (we'd missed a turn), I tried to U-turn in a subdivision intersection, needed to 3-point instead, and just as I went to back up, 1) I stalled, and 2) a guy drives up wanting to come through. Naturally, I'm perpendicular to traffic at this point... he starts yelling and this does not help. With I think just two tries I managed to get going, and made it to the Indian restaurant with some near-stalls but no further incident.

After we ate, I decided it was much too late to go down to Urbana (sorry Kathy), so I drove home. I made it all the way from the Woodfield area to my parents' house with just one stall. (In the middle of a major intersection, while leading up to a left turn, but what's life without drama?) And later on, when I drove to Lee and Vern and Kelly's place in Niles, entirely via surface roads (lots of stops and turns), I didn't stall even once. Coming back, I took 90, toll booth and all, again with complete success. So I'm not a pro just yet, but I'm getting there. :)

'If you assemble 100 gay and lesbian people in a room and ask them, "What's the worst experience you've ever had as a gay man or lesbian?" 95 of them will answer, "Coming out to my parents." (The other 5 will respond, "Being courtmartialed.")' --The Plaid Adder, "The Fine Art of Being Come Out To" (which, though selected according to the sequence I've been using for ages now, is topical---today is National Coming Out Day! Be cool, be tolerant.)

Posted by blahedo at 10:53pm on 11 Oct 2003
My dad claims that that's how lots of people used to learn stick. Seemed a little shady to me. :) In any case, I'm even more secure now... about the only thing that still worries me is parallel parking. Well, that and steep hills, but I won't be seeing any of those. ;) Posted by blahedo at 12:34am on 13 Oct 2003
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