Did you know that a car dealership can actually be an ideal place in which to test the strength of your romantic relationship? Really, it’s true. I just found that out for myself the other day…
Recently I had to make the difficult decision as to whether or not to repair my old car or bite the bullet and get a new one. Actually it wasn’t really all that difficult a decision since my old car was about 24 years old and limped along more than it drove, but I was very anxious since buying a new car meant I would either have to negotiate with a salesperson myself or fake a seizure and motion for said salesperson to make a deal with my husband instead. For an introvert like myself, the latter option held a certain appeal.
But while my loving husband did come along to the dealership with me, I actually tried to take the lead in the car-shopping process myself instead of just dumping the whole thing in his lap. (We’re still not entirely sure if that was a good thing or not.) After spending time researching online, I found a suitable automobile prospect at a local dealership, we called ahead, and then we went down to meet with a saleslady. (For the purpose of this blog post, let’s call her Mabel, because quite frankly I think the name Mabel is grossly underused in today’s society. And because it’s my blog, and I can do what I want. Ha!)
On the way there, we discussed bargaining strategies and whether or not we should prearrange secret signals to use: tugging on an earlobe meant “I don’t like this particular deal/car/upholstery/strange odor, let’s get out of here;” scratching a nose meant “They’re trying to play hardball with us, but I think we can take ’em; offer to throw in a cheesecake;” and wrapping one’s arms around the steering wheel of the car being test driven and refusing to let go meant “I love this car and must have it, and if you try to talk me out of it, I will shriek like a banshee.” Needless to say, our adrenaline levels were high.
As soon as we pulled into the lot, salespeople popped up on all sides. Highly-trained military operatives could not have appeared on the scene with more speed or precision. I may or may not have squeaked and tried to prevent my husband from unlocking our car doors at that point, but he calmed me down, squeezed my hand, and we made it inside the building without incident.
Since this was my first time taking the lead in buying a car, I was understandably anxious that I not come across as a gullible fool who would take the first deal that was offered to her. This might have made me overly mistrustful, as evidenced by when the saleslady introduced herself to us by saying, “Hi, I’m Mabel,” and I responded with a sneer and an icy “Sure you are, lady.” But somehow we made it through the test drive and wound up at a desk, discussing pricing.
I don’t consider myself a shrewd negotiator, primarily because I fear confrontation of any kind–which tends to work against you when you’re trying to talk someone down to a lower price range. On the plus side, I remembered to start with a lower number than the actual sticker price, so I’m calling that a win. There were a number of offers and counter-offers, each one leaving me more tense than the last because I was so sure I was going to say the wrong thing and wind up somehow ruining us financially. Don’t ask me how; paranoia was in the driver’s seat by that point, not logic.
Plus I wasn’t confident in my ability to recognize a genuinely good deal, so every time “Mabel” got up to go speak to her boss, I’d give my husband a furtive look and say, “What do you think?” At which point he would respond with, “I don’t know–what do you think?” And this would go on until one of us would see the saleslady returning, hastily shush the other, and then try to blurt out an insightful question about the car that would convince her that we actually knew what we were doing. (My husband and I are both remarkably indecisive people. It’s kind of amazing that we managed to set a wedding date or even decided to get married at all: “Should we get married?” “I don’t know–do you think we should get married?” “I asked you first…”)
We were there for a couple of tension-filled hours, but in the end a deal was struck with which we felt comfortable, and I staggered out of there on my husband’s arm feeling both triumphant and dizzy. And also a little nauseous. But we had done it! And my husband held my hand throughout the whole stressful thing–sometimes literally–and I like to think our marriage is even stronger than it was before, because any man who can talk me off an emotional ledge like my husband can is a true keeper.
But here’s hoping we don’t have to buy another car anytime soon… 🙂