Still Obesessing over Cars…

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I may have mentioned I’m currently looking at buying a different automobile, and letting the kids take charge of the Mitz.

I also may have insinuated the general feeling of contempt I generate when face-to-face with aggressive used-car salesmen. Well – the other night I got a full reminder of just how close to the surface my irritation comes when faced with a pushy one.

Actually, I met with 2 such arrogant stuffed-shirts, but the first one decided early on I wasn’t worth his time, and actually SLAMMED the door of the car he was trying to get me into.  I could almost see the frustration swirling around him as he stormed across the pavement in a huff – ‘How DARE I openly display dislike of his select combustion-engine box-cabin???’

Imagine, if you will, a ramrod-stiff back, stuffed to the brim with righteous indignation; one arm and two fingers upraised and a contemptuous “two hundred a month!” snarled over one shoulder.  That’s my final impression of salesman #1.

Well, sugar, offering me a deal I don’t want, on a car I’m not interested in, with an aggressive tone of voice and body language that screams ‘f*ck you?’  Yea…I can see that tactic working WELL in your future…

Salesmen don’t like me, because I will not be bullied into buying more car than I require or can afford.  I also refuse to be blinded by bling, swayed with options, or seduced by all-leather interiors.  Granted, I’m not fond of salesmen of any kind as they are the public face of the consumerism I rail against – but I’m convinced there’s a special little hell-hole that pukes out the used-car guys…

I will fully admit that by my fourth step onto any given a used car lot I’ve developed a huge chip on my shoulder, a set price in my head, and attitude oozing from every pore.  It’s my natural reaction to walking into such a hostile environment.  I automatically prepare myself for the attack on my sensibility, my intelligence, and my wallet.

I’ll also admit my job plays a large part in my touchiness over automobile purchases, as financial myopia is a common side-effect of an accounting career.

At the second dealership, I’m offered a firm handshake and a smile.  I swiftly enter the opening salvo – what type of vehicle I’m looking for, how much I’m willing to spend.  I am absolutely, bluntly honest about my price (NO tact – NO sugar-coating   –   money is a brutal business) and that there will be -NO- financing entertained.

He suggests the two cars on the lot that are under my price point.  Both 4 door sedans.  Not interested.  I turn to go.  No sense wasting my time and his.

He then points out a small SUV, which I am interested in, but mentions a price well above my line in the sand.  Again, I tell him no.  He suggests putting money down to hold the vehicle, giving me 30 days to finalize the deal.  I repeat my no – I can’t raise an additional $2k in 30 days.  I reiterate my top price and absolute refusal to finance.

He offers cookies, coffee, a soda.  Allow him a chance to view the particulars on this car, get some information – all that damn contact stuff – and maybe we can make a deal.  I need to use the bathroom, so…OK.  I’ll go in.

**The crowd goes wild as the gladiators enter the arena!

Directly after getting the name, contact info, blah, blah blah – he goes for the numbers instead of meaningless small talk or a push for a test drive, which is an unusual tactic.  I have yet to be up close and personal with the vehicle he’s trying to interest me in.  I haven’t walked around it, touched it, heard it run or smelled the interior.   I LIVE the numbers game 40+ hours a week, though, and detest small talk…so I’m curious to see how he plays this one out.

**Here’s an interesting maneuver from the Champion…a quick retreat to keep the challenger off balance!

He bounces back and forth between his ‘manager’s’ office and his desk a few times during the numbers segment of negotiation.  Only once does he get within $500 of my line in the sand.  There are undertones of ‘finance’ in the air, soft insinuations, but nothing I can really call him out on.

**Our champion shows off his impressive footwork – trying to get inside the challenger’s defenses…

I don’t budge from my line…this is what I have available to spend  What he doesn’t appreciate (or realize) is my bluntness over money matters.  The price I quoted him IS what I have available – there’s no room for me to go up.

**The challenger continues to stand firm…alert and defensive – batting away the attacks…

After the third run to the manager’s desk, he returns with keys – insisting we go for the test drive.

**Ohhh – the champion strikes out with a devastating mental attack!

The psychology behind automobile sales is obvious in its simplicity – Get the client into the product.  Let them feel, touch, smell and drive the product.  Let them play with the product, fantasize about the product, imagine themselves with the product.  Allow the client to bond with the product.  Once the client has mentally sold themselves on the product, you just mop up with the appropriate paperwork, and hello! commission!

To that end, he spills out a story while we’re on the test drive about how the SUV is a one-owner trade in, and he knows the previous owner personally.  It was his trade, and the other owner was sorta reluctant to give up the vehicle they had owned and loved for almost a decade.

**Bad choice for our champion, choosing a mental spell constructed of freshly-extruded fecal material!

I have to admit – it was a nice vehicle.  The interior appeared to be clean and well-maintained; the engine was clean; the body nice and shiny, without dings or obvious touch ups in the finish.  Brakes, alignment, tires, climate controls, everything worked the way it was supposed to.  It test drove very well.

While on the test drive, I mention the kid’s dying car to our erstwhile salesman.  I’m figuring if the dealership gives us only a few hundred for scrap value, it might be enough to meet at an agreeable number.  He immediately goes into info-gathering mode, pumping them for as many details as he can on the potential trade-in.

**The challenger attacks – and is deflected!

The test drive over – the salesman once again takes the desk, writing down all the details of the kid’s car.  He gathers all his documents in one pile, fleeing once more toward the shadowy ‘manager’ hidden somewhere within in the building.

**Our champion charges  – war cry on the lips…

The offer he brings back?  To their credit, this offer finally had a number at the bottom, instead of only price plus TTL (which is easy enough to figure with the calculator in my iPod) on the other offers.  It’s still $500 above my line in the sand – even with the extra $200 offered on the kid’s vehicle in trade.

In short – it’s the exact same offer given before the test drive – worse, actually, as now they’ve factored in a trade in vehicle credit while still coming up with the same price as before.

**Oh no!  The champion has tripped on his own shoelaces!

I’m no longer curious about his sales tactics – now I’m irritated.  Maybe a little insulted.  I’m tired of repeating the amount I have available, I’m tired of his face, his posture, and the mental struggle to put his accent into understandable sentences.  I’m tired of the increasing pressure to agree to a price above my available funds.  I switch to a more aggressive mode – stabbing the dollar value at the top of the offer with a stiffened finger.  “This,” I tell him, “Is what I have.  This is what I will pay.”

gladiator-2000-51-g**The challenger goes for the killing blow…but the champion rolls  at the last minute!

 

He mutters “Well, now you’re getting emotional…”

**Ooooo – right onto his own weapon!

And just like that, I’ve had it.  He just got personal.  I’m done.  I stand, coldly thanking him for his time.  My outstretched hand is a challenge in itself.

gladiators copy**The challenger’s weapon is set on the champion’s chest.  ‘Yield!’ is the growled demand…

“But,” he insists, “I have two cars that will come in under your price…” He’s slightly panicked at this point – I can read it in his eyes.  I think he FINALLY realizes I’m serious about the amount I’m willing to spend on a car; realizes how badly he misread things; realizes how badly he bungled this potential transaction; and is now attempting a Hail Mary to salvage his sale.

judgement copy**They both look to the king – thumb horizontal – for final judgem…where’d that football come from???

Seriously?  I’ve been in the dealership for over an hour, and he wants to start fresh with a different vehicle?  One that I was dismissive about at the very beginning?   I give him a firm no – that I am done with shopping for this evening.

**OMG – what an incredible game – but it’s all over with a tie score!  No winner for the Superbowl this year!

I really, REALLY hate car shopping…

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Potty Mouth

Just a friendly warning here – if you’re sensitive to rather frank talk about UN-polite subjects – you may want to stop reading now and go to something lighter – like some of my flash fiction or photo posts.

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Last chance – things are going to get weird from here…

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There…now that I’ve cleared the more sensitive out – The other day, I had to go to the bathroom at work.  Yea, yea, yea…not exactly Earth-shattering…everyone uses this room a few times a day.   We’ve got a three-staller, so nobody has to wait too long to relieve themselves. This day, I had 2 to choose from, as the center stall was occupied.

Pick a door, lock and load.  I was prepared to wait just a bit, as the transaction my body had in mind was one that is, for the sake of politeness, accomplished when the bathroom is empty.

***see Peg’s Personal Etiquette Handbook – coming soon to all major e-book retailers – section Bathroom, subsection public, sub-sub section ‘Work.’

I did manage a stream of less-offensive waste while I waited for the lady next door to finish.

Her phone rang…and she answered it.

Does anyone else see the absolute horror of this, or am I just weird?

***Don’t answer that…

I can’t finish what I came in there for, as nobody wants to share the bathroom with an active pooper.  I can’t wipe and leave – she’s on the phone, and nobody wants to hear the loud thumping of the paper-dispenser, the flush, the clothing arranging, the sink and the hand towels when they’re trying to hold a conversation on the phone.

But I can’t help but eavesdrop – she’s sitting right next to me!

**HALP!  I’M TRAPPED IN THE BATHROOM STALL!**

But hold on…it gets even weirder…

The conversation she’s having is extremely personal.  Apparently, someone in the immediate family is going through a stint of rehab…

And Mom is understandably upset.

And Dad is strangely absent lately.

But the dog is just fine!

And maybe we should make plans to get together this weekend – there’s the great shop I just heard of that sells some really cute panties…

OH.  MY.  GAWD!

By this time, I want to crawl into the wall and come out of the Gents on the other side.  Anything…even shitting my pants…would be better than having to sit here, unpooped and overhearing this little personal slice of this woman’s life – especially seeing though her voice is unmistakable.

To say my etiquette lessons never envisioned this sequence of events is the understatement of the year.  I froze with indecision – I didn’t know which of the four would be worse:

1-Making noises of bathroom origin (which are pretty hard to pass off as anything else) to be overheard by the person on the other end of the phone.

2-taking a shit at work with someone else in the Ladies to ‘enjoy’ the atmosphere – possibly leading back to offense #1 if the conversation goes on long enough.

3-Arresting the bowel’s movement & beating a hasty retreat, leaving urine unwiped, the toilet unflushed, and the hands unwashed to keep the exodus as quiet as possible…or…

4-to just sit there, quietly, and listen in on what was a conversation that ‘aught not be overheard at work.

Emily Post REALLY needs to update her book…

Flash Fiction – Battlefield Dealership

Rose lineup Flash Fiction

It’s Friday again!  YEA!  Break out the alcohol, the munchies, call the pizza guy – it’s the start of the WEEKEND!  It’s also time for Flash Fiction over at the Dragon Mistress’s site.

How funny is it that our prompt today is to feature a parking lot as the primary setting – with a Eastern Warrior type as the photo prompt?  With all the auto-obsessions I’ve been on about this week – I think she’s spying on me. Here’s my flash entry:

 

Battlefield Dealership

200 words

Since time immemorial, the souls of humanity have been forged upon the most mundane of battlegrounds, tempered in the fires of chance encounters, fletched by everyday events.

I just want to know why MY battlefield had to be a parking lot of used cars.

Virulent hatred is too soft a phrase for the feelings I experience when setting foot on such a tarmac…yet here I was, a long-range archer forced into close combat with the most vile and cunning trickster ever spat from the ninth circle of hell.

He would attempt to place me in a motorized chariot that I neither chose nor desired – and his desire to separate me from all my worldly goods while doing so was akin to pouring additional incendiaries on an already blazing situation.

My battle-cry of “Forty-eight hundred, and no financing!” fell on deaf ears, even as my opponent’s snarled “Two hundred a month!” arrowed through the exhaust-laden atmosphere.

We eyed each other up – taking measure of perceived strengths, weaknesses, exploitable traits both real and imagined as we warily circled within the lot.

And then broke, offering meaningless pleasantries, going our separate ways to new battlegrounds and more worthy opponents.

NO SALE!

 

Auto-Obsessions

Someone took my license plate literally

Everyone loves the feel, the handling, the smell, and the looks of a brand new car.  I had the opportunity to rent just such a noble steed a couple of years ago when I was between vehicles (never saw the guy coming and he totaled my car…) and it was amazing.

The thing had 25 miles on it when I drove it off the lot.  It smelled wonderful – new plastic and fabric and cleaning products, with no hints of body sweat, emissions, or bad drive-through food.  It had a full options package, and it flowed down the road like a dreamy flying carpet (albeit with less wind).  It glistened in any available light like a bright red shiny Christmas bauble.

In short – it did it’s best to try to seduce me to the dark side.  If there had been cookies, this might be a different story…

It was kinda sad to return it to the rental place and start driving the 13 year old, dull white (but very serviceable) Mitz I’d selected based on consumer reviews and what the insurance company was willing to pay…But I was mobile, alive, unharmed, and didn’t go into mountains of debt to be so.

I have a decidedly un-Murikan! view on debt – less is miles ahead of more.

Some people aren’t so resilient (OK…I’ll say it…bullheaded) – and get sucked into the black hole of “New Mania” – seduced into buying a new car every 2 years or so – building their debt to the point where they canNOT imagine life without an increasingly large car payment.

Granted, they leave their ‘nothing wrong with it’ trade ins on used car lots sprinkled across every nook & cranny on the globe for the more sensible of us to pick through when we need transportation – but what happened to buying a quality product, and then utilizing it throughout it’s usable life?

Consumerism really irritates me sometimes…

Next, let’s talk about the Government involvement in the automobile industry.  I’ve been racking my brain for days trying (and failing) to come up with a bigger tax scam.  It’s a HUGE revenue builder for the states.  Every time that automobile changes hands, the state gets to collect sales tax.  They get to charge licensing fees.  They get to charge clean-air fees.  I’m sure there are other fees and dues I don’t have to pay, as every state plays by a different set of tax laws.

Every.  Single.  Time.

There isn’t another common consumer good out there following this scheme. I can go out and buy a recovered bicycle from a police auction, and ride it all over the roads without attracting the attention of the tax man.

I can buy a couch, a bed, a lamp, clothing, jewelry, dishes, yadda… at a rummage sale and not have to offer up sales taxes.

I can buy baked goods in a Church Basement and nosh away without any additional cash required before that first sugary-sweet bite.

Sometimes, I get to barter with only goods changing hands while the tax man froths in impotent rage.

This is about as ‘open’ as a house can get…

But Motorized transportation?  Every Single Sale – public or private – HAS to be recorded, reported, taxes and fees collected.  And if the end-user doesn’t want to pony up them dollars, that shiny new toy becomes nothing more exotic than the world’s largest paperweight…with bucket seats.

I wouldn’t recommend parking a Buick on your desk, however…

Why, you may ask, am I grousing about the automobile industry?

I bought the White Wonder around 2 years ago, and there’s nothing wrong with it.  The Mitz is a very dependable little set of wheels, and has given me no trouble outside of requiring new tires and regular oil changes.  As long as I keep up on the maintenance, it should provide the same dependable service for years yet.  I haven’t fallen to the dark side of consumerism (no cookies have been offered…) and I’m not tired of the car.

Unfortunately, I find myself in need of a second car because the kids’ car has croaked out its last exhaust-laden breath.

Graveside Services are Next Tuesday

Seeing though I’m the one that can afford a car…finance a car…and add a second car to my insurance to drop the policy rates on both cars…I’m the one who has to buy the second car.

So the kids are going to give me what they can for the Mitz – and it will be their car even though the paperwork lists it as mine.

Family ties can still trump the tax man 😛

So I’m off to find me a different set of wheels.  I shall gird my loins for this dawning test of fortitude upon the battlefield of the used car lot.  My opponent – the trickster and his brethren – welcome me into their hazard-filled arena.

HearseWhat atrocities shall I behold?  What weapons shall they employ?  And what wonders shall be paraded before my left-seeing eyes?

I really hope the last guy who sold me a car is doing better.  Just last week, he got to weave a basket…

Flash Fiction – Creation’s Point of View

Rose lineup Flash FictionOnce again, Flash! Friday rules!  The prompts on this one were tough – this is the first piece in a long time I really fought over.  I had a baseline idea and a fresh take on the thing…but using the painting as my main POV?

Somehow – I managed to squeeze something out – by the end of the piece, the biggest aspiration I had (which was the theme portion of the prompt) was to finish the thing!

I was rewarded on this one come the Monday judging – I got an honorable mention!  Here is the write-up from the judges:

An intriguing entry that took us on a sensory laden journey into the prompts. The perspective of being the art itself, voyeuristically examining the “muse draped around him”, was wonderfully atmospheric, and the layering of aspirations, from artist to muse, to the desire of this created object to become one with its creator was an intriguing approach.

Enjoy the latest little bit of flash!

Creation’s Point of View

206 words

A bold, heavy smear of ochre brackets a central, snaking ribbon of gold. Dots, dabs and squiggles of green intertwine with sage, mint, and plum.

Next: a cube of red.

Center stage – a series of oval, softly rounded blocks in a riot of blended colors, patterns, textures – crinkly yellow, dotted with crimson and cream; azure and alabaster stripes dusted with hazel; sienna and ginger framed with raven wings.

Vision emerges from concentric ovals – Stygian chips within white oblongs framed in tawny cocoa and coffee. I see, now, The Artist, fevered and pale, a madly determined glint in his eye. I see The Muse draped around him, diaphanous yet solid, whispering in his ear.

I feel the brush tickle as The Artist attacks my canvas in his frenzied ballet of creation.

Steely color and sharp lines: silver fading to charcoal, knife-edged greens below. Pale blue, wavering and distorted ellipses emerge to soften and balance. Determined straw slashes stretch, framing the red cube. Straight, uncompromising lines lend me strength, length, perspective.

Man and Canvas. Disassociated objects: one cloth, wood and paint, the other tissue, blood and bone.

But when The Muse ties the threads of our selves together? We are two objects sharing one soul.

Consent: Not actually that complicated

Ok…you mentioned tea, and had a graphic of tea-service and dinosaurs, which, for me, is almost enough for an immediate reblog (given the name of my blog and all…)

But the analogy goes much deeper than the bottom of the kettle – or even the bottom of the cup. Brilliant.

Now…I need something to drink.

rockstar dinosaur pirate princess

http://kaffysmaffy.tumblr.com/post/780535517 http://kaffysmaffy.tumblr.com/post/780535517

A short one today as my life is currently very complicated and conspiring against my preference to spend all of my days working out what to blog. But do you know what isn’t complicated?

Consent.

It’s been much discussed recently; what with college campuses bringing in Affirmative Consent rules, and with the film of the book that managed to make lack of consent look sexy raking it in at the box office. You may not know this, but in the UK we more or less have something similar to ‘affirmative consent’ already. It’s how Ched Evans was convicted while his co-defendant was not – and is along the lines of whether the defendant had a reasonable belief that the alleged victim consented. From the court documents it appears that while the jury felt that it was reasonable to believe that the victim had consented to intercourse with the co-defendant, it…

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Flash Fiction – War against the World of the Snei!

Rose lineup Flash Fiction

Flash Friday once again – this time it was Man against Nature with the accompanying pic.  Guess who wins in such a titanic struggle?

I actually wrote (2) flash pieces for Flash! Friday last week – both their official competition, and the Wednesday warm up – I’m including them both just because I wanna be efficient 😀

Here’s the Friday entry:

War against the World

209 words

 

It was wrong – everyone knew it. The warning had been fed to me first in my mother’s milk, then the morning gloop, the daytime ration, and the evening synth-ohol. Never    -NEVER- consume things from the wild.

It gives Her a way to hunt you.

Find you.

End you.

 

By my reckoning, we had nine months becalmed on this accursed sea as She hunted our ship. Nine months of feeling Her malevolent presence and determination to flick the last remnants of Humankind from her watery garments. Nine months of breathing in her salt-tinged anger, feeling it burrow into our pores as the relentless sun beat on our shoulders.

Feeling that anger in our bellies as our rations ran out.

The difference between what a man won’t eat, and what a man will eat, is two days of starvation. If we were going to die, we rationalized last night; it would be boldly defiant to the bitter end, bellies full of Her forbidden bounty.

And now? In the bright light of day, blinking stupidly at the endless expanse of golden, hot sand stretching to every horizon? I’ve no more options, but no regrets. All that’s left is my anger, as fierce as Hers.

“Damn you, Mother Earth! You MOVED the ocean!”

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And here’s the entry from last week Wednesday – I couldn’t help myself, and got a bit goofy on this one, which seems to be a reoccuring thing with me – 100 words, I get silly.  200 words, and this sh!t gets SERIOUS.

I also want to point out – while everyone else was seeing a pair of shoes at the bus stop, and incorporating the three different shades of red – I was seeing the emergence of the Snei.

I really do dance to the beat of my own little drummer.

Beware the Snei!

100 misread words

“The Snei is coming! The Snei is coming!”

The panicked scream echoes off the pavement in front of my ruby-painted toenails. I’m shaking in my strappy crimson wedges, fighting against the terror surging through my blood. Men, women, and children dash madly from door to car, loaded with precious possessions as they flee the coming of this horrifying, dread menace.

I, in an unusual example of bravery or bravado, have decided not to flee, but to wait here, patiently, and in my best cherry-red shoes, for the Snei to arrive.

Oh…wait…I’m reading the sign upside down. Here comes the bus.