Life surprised me this week with something I never knew I wanted, but now I can’t live without.
Having sold my Volkswagen, I needed a new car. I wanted to skip the usual car-buying routine…drumming fingers, slurping stale coffee, waiting for the salesman’s return. He abandons you for hours while he discusses your offer with his boss, an unknown person mysteriously hidden in an area of the car dealership.
Salesman: “My boss says we can offer such-and-such price.”
You: “Tell your boss no deal and I’m about to walk.”
Salesman: “Let me see if I can get the big guy to see it your way.”
You: “Ohhh, headache coming on. Advil! Advil!”
All you want is to purchase a car. But no, the car salesman won’t let that happen until six hours or ten days pass. At least if the coffee were fresh, the experience would be less of an ordeal. I’m told Hyundai offers donuts while you sit and wait during the car-buying process. This little fact made me strongly consider Hyundai.
While at the AAA office in Mesa, Arizona, Jerry and I noticed a flyer advertising their service of doing all the car-buying work for its members. Tell them what you want and they find it for you.
Jerry suggested we call this service to see what they might do for me. I spoke with Brian, an AAA consultant, who said he loves shopping for cars for other people. He asked me what I wanted. I explained, “Something roomy and comfortable in a pretty color.” He suggested the Ford Escape or Toyota Rav 4.
Years ago, I didn’t care about comfort. I only cared about power. That’s why I loved my Firebird. It could blow the doors off any car that tried to pass me. My son, about 11 at the time, had a friend who called me a “cool Mom” because I drove my son to school in a cool car. Unfortunately, my son didn’t think of me as cool since I didn’t serve Arby’s roast beef sandwiches for dinner like his friend’s mom served her family.
I miss the Firebird and my son’s friend calling me a “cool’ Mom. Those days are gone.
Now, I’m at a stage in my life where comfort takes precedence over power. It especially takes precedence when our only other car has a broken air conditioner and the temperatures in the desert have not cooled below 98.
I had seen ads for the Buick Encore and it seemed like a car of comfort. I asked Brian to look into the Encore for me. He said he’d get right on it.
I watched a few YouTube videos on the Buick Encore to learn more. In one video, a barely-out-of-her-teens saleslady dressed in a short skirt, flashes a mile-wide smile and says , “Most of you think of Buick as an old people’s car. Not anymore!” She continued by pointing out the youthful pleasure of the Buick. I watched another video. This time a real teenager talks about the 2016 Buick Encore her parents gave her for her special-princess-whatever-you-want birthday. She named her Encore ‘Meredith Grey’ after her fave TV character and because her Buick has a metallic gray exterior. She explains, in much better detail than the saleslady, the joys of the Buick; where to keep your deodorant and toothbrush and mascara for those emergencies when you park next to a very handsome teenage boy. “Hey, I just met you…(squirt, squirt, swab, brush)…and this is crazy, but here’s my number, so call me, maybe!”
Yesterday I picked up my new Buick Encore at the AAA office. It gleamed in Winterberry Red. Brian showed me the controls and many of its features. I didn’t hear a lot of what he told me because I was too fascinated with the OnStar feature. It’s a feature I didn’t ask for or even think I wanted. But it comes with the car. What I love most is the button on the rear view mirror. Press it and a real, live person speaks to you. It’s like having your own personal maid or butler at your fingertip. “Yes, hello, OnStar, I’d like a cup of tea and a scone with jam and clotted cream.”
I will never feel alone again just knowing a real person is ready at my command. Brian helped me connect my phone to OnStar and a lady came on and said, “Welcome to OnStar and congratulations on your new car.”
At home, I sat in the car taking in the new car smell, which is really an unpleasant odor of plastics, sealants and adhesives. Ignoring the new car smell, I hoped to familiarize myself with all the new controls. I saw a red button with tiny white letters, too small for me to read. I wonder what this red button is for, I thought to myself. So I pushed it.
RING! RING! In a second’s flash, a man’s deep voice boomed inside the car, stating, “OnStar, what’s your emergency?” I explained I made a mistake and didn’t have an emergency. He said, “That’s okay. You have a good day.” I felt like saying, “Well since I have your attention, could you bring me some tea?”
I’m impressed with how quickly OnStar responds to an emergency. I no sooner had pressed the button than I heard a helicopter hovering above ready to whisk me off to a trauma center.
Life is full of pleasant surprises. When you don’t expect it, you get a rainbow on the horizon, or raindrops glistening like sparkling diamonds when the sun shines after it rains . Or Mama duck decides to cross the road and you stop your car to watch her waddle along with her children in tow, a single file of wobbling, baby ducks—you never know how life might surprise you.
I only wanted a roomy and comfortable car. And I’m thrilled with the OnStar service. It has become my new favorite thing. It’s like having the entire household staff of Downton Abbey inside a tiny button, ready to serve whenever I need them.
“Hello-oooo, Mr. Carson! Mrs. Hughes! Are you in there?”
Brian, if you’re reading this, thank you for a job well done!