Thursday, November 8, 2012

The rubber meets the road

Are you a sharp-eyed blog reader? By which I mean, did you happen to notice in my inaugural Week in Queen post how I very nonchalantly slipped in a reference to driving to CarMax? It’s true, on Sunday afternoon (and well into the evening), rather than traumatizing our offspring by gluing ourselves to the couch and shouting at the back-and-forth battle between the Giants and the Steelers*, we did something much more beneficial to our brood in light of its imminent expansion. So we are now the proud co-owners of a Toyota Highlander hybrid, which emerged as a surprise favorite thanks to having three rows of seating but not driving like a beached aircraft carrier. Granted, the legroom in that third row is close to nonexistent, but the little guy’s legs are still pretty short, so the Highlander will work for a few years.

Also works as a Queen reference!

Overall the experience was about as great as we could have hoped for. I had bought my Mazda at the exact same CarMax with in-house financing, so it was a pretty frictionless process to sell that car back to them and have the outstanding balance on the loan settled immediately, and then use the (surprisingly significant) remainder applied against the new vehicle’s price and finance the rest. So my little beater is part of the family fleet no more, and I’m driving what was formerly my wife’s Honda Accord, which is kind of a mixed bag. I will miss driving a stick, but I was getting pretty tired of the lack of power locks and power windows and whatnot, so that’s an improvement, at least.

The little guy and little girl were really angelic, too. My wife and I decided that she should go and test drive the Highlander alone; I’m sure they would have accommodated us in installing our carseats as part of the overall pre-buying preview process, but that seemed excessive, and if my wife didn’t care for the Highlander much then all four of us trekking to the dealership would have been a colossal waste of time. Once my wife has test driven and decided to move forward with the purchase, it was time for me and the kids to catch up so that I could give it my own cursory look-see and thumbs-up and then trade in my car plus co-sign the loan and all that. The CarMax folks were extra-graciously indulgent about letting our son and daughter climb in and out of basically every floor model in the joint, which the kids thought was ridiculously fun. The dealership also had a playroom with a high toy truck quotient, as well as a plastic push lawnmower my daughter was quite smitten with, and a jungle gym with slide. And they had snack and soda vending machines that take debit cards, which, COME ON. (Why don’t more places upgrade to those? How many times have I been perfectly willing to part with a couple bucks but light on cash?)

So yeah, hours and hours doing boring grown-up stuff and nary a fit was pitched. Well, maybe half a fit, when the playroom tv suddenly started showing a Mickey Mouse cartoon and the little guy got sucked in, right before we had to head into the home stretch in the (much more utilitarian, bordering on kid-unfriendly) finance department to ink our paperwork. But we bribed the little guy with promises of a make-up movie at home, and it all worked out.

I had to remind my wife that our third bundle of joy is due in just about four months; her mental clock had gotten stuck at five months somehow. But at least now we have one vehicle in which all five members of our family can ride at once. Now we just need to get an infant bucket seat between now and mid-March (with “just” being operative only in regards to transportation needs; there’s kind of a ton of other stuff we need to do before the spring to really get ready for the baby) and since today is our hurricane-delayed ultrasound which may incidentally reveal the baby’s sex, hopefully we’ll know whether or not it would be appropriate to get a bucket festooned with pink bows as opposed to blue fabric printed with images of dogs using power tools. Update to follow!

(* I tip my hat to my wife's beloved Steelers for holding off my G-Men. Halfway through the season and both teams are technically in playoff contention!)

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