Personal 2010

February 24

This Honda Seems Like a Good Fit

Today I will take a detour from the usual intellectual topics, to write about Eunice's and my new car. Previously, I was driving a 1992 Toyota Corolla that my parents gave me, since they were hardly ever driving it. We had set up a CD in Washington Mutual (now Chase bank) several years ago to save the money to buy a new car, and we felt it was finally time to use the money. On February 17, the CD matured, so we transferred the money to Eunice's bank account. Meanwhile, my Corolla continued to run fine, but was up to 97,000 + miles, had an increasing number of broken parts (including the driver's door handle which prevented anyone except myself from opening the door), and had undergone several $1,000 plus maintenance sessions in the 4 1/2 years since we had custody of this car. I wanted to get a new car before something really went wrong with the car or it became a clunker that was awkward to drive.

Eunice and I had borrowed the car issue of Consumer Reports from my parents, and had marked several car models which fit our criteria -- under $20,000, good mileage, small but with room for luggage and passengers, something other than another Corolla, and a "big bottom" according to Eunice, which meant a compact hatchback or sedan model. At the top of our list was the Honda Fit, which was highly recommended in Consumer Reports. Actually, I wanted a hybrid car, but they are more expensive to buy and also more expensive to repair, so Eunice particularly was wary of buying a hybrid. Nonetheless the new hybrid Honda Insight was on our list as well. Meanwhile, I walked a letter of recommendation down to my former student Sabrina's house a few days earlier, and noticed that her mother has a Honda Fit, which seemed like a good "fit" for us. I thought I would like one of those too.

Sunday afternoon, I told Eunice I was ready to look at cars. Actually, I wanted to buy a car that day, rather than spending a lot of time looking at them. For one thing, the car registration fee for my old car was due on March 8, and also, I had put off any car maintenance since the 90,000 mile mark. Besides, I am not particularly fond of shopping for cars. Eunice suggested we go to to the Honda dealer. She wanted to look at the Honda Fit first. After looking at the selection on of a few cars on the lot, and going for test drives in two of them, I was pretty satisfied that I would like one, although I did not say so directly. We also saw that they had 2 white Insights, which cost a few thousand dollars more, but were not too expensive. Meanwhile, Eunice kept wandering onto the neighboring Toyota dealership to look at the Scions, of which the XD model was also on our approved car list. (But I don't think dealers allow negotiations on Scion prices, something I was relying on Eunice to do.) I think Eunice's antics motivated the salespeople to try harder. They also kept telling us how the Scions were being recalled along with most other Toyota products.

The salesperson was a young fellow named Josh, whom I actually liked (not usually the case with car salespeople). I noticed that he was left-handed, so I commented "I see you are correct handed" and he actually didn't seem nonplussed by my unusual comment. I figure that if right-handed people get to call themselves "right" handed, we left-handed people should be able to call themselves "correct" handed. Josh had the appearance of a typical cosmopolitan Moreno Valleyite -- a somewhat Hispanic looking guy despite having a non-hispanic family name. Actually, he told us that he grew up in Big Bear in the local mountains. He was fairly honest, although there were a few times when I felt he went a ways into B.S. territory. For example, one of the interesting things about this dealership is that it now has been taken over by the expanding "Moss brothers" car dealership empire which is prominant in this area. I went to high school with the Moss brothers, whose father was a car dealer before them. They graduated from high school and went into their father's lucrative business. The one who was in my class, Jay, died about six years ago in an offroad vehicle accident, which I read about in the newspaper before I cancelled it in 2004 because they were trying to get Bush re-elected. When I mentioned about Jay to Josh, he said "that was a sad day for us." However, Josh told me that he was born in 1989, which would make him about 20 years old now, and only 14 or 15 when Jay Moss died. Somehow, I don't think Josh was working there at the time. Actually, I doubt that Moss Motors had taken the place over yet, at the time. Nonetheless, Josh seemed pretty honest about cars, such as the repair situation for the hybrid Insight cars. Hopefully, he won't be conditioned to lose his honesty through his work.

After test driving a silver Fit, Josh asked us if we wanted it, and I answered "yeah" nonchalantly. Then we proceeded to the calculation phase. Eunice seemed surprised that things were going so fast. In fact, so was I, but I figured we would not get a better car by prolonging the shopping process. It was already the one I wanted. As far as the price was concerned, I knew that with Eunice's magnificent price negotiation skills, we would get a really good deal. I was correct about that. When Josh added up all the costs, including fees and taxes, it came to over $20,000 even though the base price was something like $17,700. Eunice wrote down two prices: $17,000 for the Fit, and $21,000 for an Insight, plus the trade in of our old car. She asked Josh which he thought would be a better buy, and he said he would recommend the Fit, so we concentrated on negotiating the price for the Fit. First, Eunice got Josh to bring his offer for our old car up from $200 to $500. Then, Josh brought the remaining price of the Fit down a ways, but Eunice continued to be dissatisfied, and I continued to show lukewarm demeanor on buying the new car, and let Eunice do her price negotiation thing. Eventually, Josh called his manager into the office, a middle eastern guy, who explained the price they paid Honda for the car, and that they would "lose money" if the price went down any more. Nonetheless, he cut the price several times, writing down O.T.D. (for "out the door") each time, and underlining it. Each time, he complained that they were "losing money." I kept wondering how being paid $17,000 could be considered "losing money." After all, the Honda company depends upon the dealers to sell their cars. If customers are not willing to pay their price, Honda should simply cut their prices. I know that with that amount of money changing hands, Honda's people are going to be making a lot of money.

Eventually, Eunice brought her asking price up to $18,000, but she and the manager still could not agree. Echoing my thoughts, Eunice kept telling them that $18,000 was a lot of money; they should be able to pay everybody as well as the fees and taxes from that money. Finally, Eunice said, "we will come back when you decide to sell the car for $18,000," then we got up and headed for the door. Before we got to the door, the head boss, another middle eastern guy, showed up. After about 10 minutes of the same sort of price disagreement with the head boss, he finally said "Congratulations!" and shook our hands. Then he asked Eunice to sound a gong they had nearby. Eighteen thousand dollars it was.

After that both of us, especially me, were asked to sign a huge number of papers. I guess they thought our signatures would become famous someday. Then we transferred our belongings from the old car to the new one. We did still have a problem, which was a lack of documents such as vehicle registration and proof of insurance. We had looked for those in the old car, but could not find them. Thus, Josh followed us home as we drove the new car, to see if we could find these items. As it turned out, I found the Corolla ownership proof in the glove compartment of the new car. We had missed it while looking for it at the dealership. However, after much searching, we still could not find the proof of insurance. As it turns out, the current proof of insurance had never been mailed to us by Farmers Insurance, for some reason. Josh finally asked us to have our Farmers Insurance agent to fax the proof of insurance to the Honda dealership the next morning. It was after 7 p.m. sunday evening by this time. Fortunately, Eunice was able to contact our agent Monday morning and have her fax the proof of insurance to the dealer, as well as emailing it to us. We officially had our first new car since 1996. The next time we go to the Honda dealer, I wouldn't be surprised if the employees run the other way, but the way I see it, we did what we had to do to keep our new car from being overpriced, a small victory in the war to help keep cars in general from being overpriced.

February 17

At Least Keyboards Don't Get Laryngitis

Since last time, I have had winter session final exams and grading to do, got sick the night of the last winter session final exam, and started spring semester classes yesterday. To top things off, after my classes yesterday, I could barely talk. It must be laryngitis. I am talking somewhat better today, but still sound more like a frog than a prince. This is my first experience with laryngitis, and I find it interesting that it occurred as my infection seemed to be improving. I think all the loud talking in my "teaching voice" that I had to do yesterday irritated my larynx. By the way, Eunice had been sick for at least a week before I became sick, so I think I contracted the infection from her. I just hope I will be able to teach tomorrow without re-aggravating the laryngitis. This is the sickest that I have been since I had pneumonia two years ago, but fortunately, this is not nearly as bad as the pneumonia. I think it had been quite a while since Eunice had been so sick, as well. We both had fevers, and found it difficult to sleep due to all the mucous and coughing, but those issues are improving.

Meanwhile, both of my brothers came to Riverside to stay with my parents. Craig already went back to Davis, so we missed his visit due to our illness. Bruce will be at my parents' house all week, so I might still be able to see him and his family before they go back, but not for sure. Another complication is that our "new car CD" at "the bank that used to be Washington Mutual" matures today, so we need to get the money out of there. We have been planning to do that for a long time, and finally buy a new car to replace the 1992 Corolla that I have been driving. We have actually been studying the Consumer Reports car issue, which we borrowed from my parents, concentrating on best buys for under $20,000; the CD has $22,000 something dollars in it. Eunice wants a car with a "big bottom" which means one with a high backside such as a hatchback or sedan, and I want one with really good mileage, maybe even a hybrid, but that might be difficult to buy for less than $20,000.

Basically, I feel I need to write something to update the blog about what is going on, particularly why I have been unable to write any posts for so long. The ironic thing is that, I have numerous blog topics lined up in my mind. Mentally, I continue to think productively, but lack the opportunity to record my thoughts. The reason I am not doing a post at the moment is because I expect to go to the bank soon in order to transfer the CD money, and after that, perhaps go to look at cars, despite my laryngitis, or we might go to visit Bruce, Rosalie and their kids at my parents' house. Sometimes, circumstances arrange our lives in ways that aren't conducive to the conduct of one's favorite avocations, but still, we are doing something that may be even more important -- putting family first, and setting the stage for future productivity, plus of course, taking care of our health. Eunice made some sort of special soup from a Chinese cookbook for my throat. It has lots of vegetable broth (but not the actual vegetables) and white pepper in it, and it does taste good and healthy. I also drank some of the special Chinese Loquat cough syrup last night, after Eunice had miraculously managed to get the top off. It had been virtually glued on by syrup residue, and I could not open it even with a wrench. Pieces of the cap were even peeling away without the cap budging at all. Eunice is one powerful woman. Anyway, I think the syrup is effective.

I am trying not to talk too much today, in order to let my larynx rest. At least I can talk softly now without being uncomfortable. Last night, even talking softly was a strain. It's a good thing that computer keyboards don't get laryngitis.

I should have a chance to get back to blogging in the near future. I only have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester.

To Homepage