Wow, it’s that time again already. Wooh! Seems like I just did this, although it was actually 2007 the last time I did it. Buy a car I mean. I’m taking advantage of another VA benefit; this one helps us afford a car that will carry our mobility scooters for us. For the most part though, it’s just like buying a car for anyone else. You know, go to a dealership and choose the one you want and then endure a couple of hours of half-discussions. You say “I’d like this car in red.” The salesman explains how smart I am for deciding on such a great color –imaginative even. Then he jumps up and runs into a room in the back where he speaks with the all powerful and omnipotent Oz, who will think about it for a while, consult graphs and pie charts, and then tells the salesman whether or not your credit profile and political preferences qualifies you for buying a car that’s red. The salesman then comes back and says something like “That’s just great. We can get you a red one.” Or “Gosh, I’m sorry, but the factory doesn’t have any red paint left.” The same thing happens with each and every statement or question you make to the salesman, which is why t takes so long to buy a car.
The thing is, when you’re looking for a mobility modified vehicle, you have to go to a mobility modified dealer. My home town of Spokane has only one. In spite of it being a city with more than a million people in its ‘Greater Spokane Area’ area, it’s actually still a small home town in attitude. This is weird because in a small town everyone knows everyone else. There are too many people in Spokane for everyone to know everyone, as a result things can get a bit strange. But then, it’s always been a little odd here. Back when ind– I mean native Americans ruled the roost, they named it Spokane which in tribal language means “Place of Shrinking IQ.” The predominant tribe, the Spokane, took exception to this and modified it to mean “Seriously dude, if you weren’t born here, moving here will prove you’re lame.” One would have thought they might just change the name of the tribe, but that never occurred to them. Then again, it’s Spokane, so intellect shouldn’t be relied on as a prevalent commodity. At any rate, it makes choosing a mobility modified vehicle dealer a much easier choice, eliminating concerns about credibility, value, and pricing.
“Hello!” said the salesman as he strode across the sales floor. He stretched out his hand to shake mine. I stopped using my right hand to roll my wheelchair and reached out to shake with him and the sudden imbalance in exertion caused me to veer to the right. I said ‘oops’ and rotated the chair back to face him, but by then he’d leaned on a Chrysler mini-van, arms crossed, a big smile on his face. “Have you come to buy a mobility modified vehicle?” he asked, still grinning.
“Huh?” I said. “I thought this was a gun shop.”
“Cut it out, Bob.” said my wife.
His smile never wavered. “Gun shop. That’s a good one. I love it when customers have a sense of humor.”
“Yeah, I’m looking to buy a vehicle that can carry my chair –and my scooter.”
“Well! You certainly came to the right place. We can fix you up with a Dodge, a Toyota, a Honda –pretty much anything.”
“Wow. It’s lucky I came here instead of one of the other dealers.”
“There’s that humor again.” How did he keep that smile on his face all the time? I was wondering if he’d had cosmetic surgery to make it permanent. After all, we disabled people are often in bad moods, what with the pain and immobility we suffer. “So, how can I help? Do you have a preference as to brand name?”
“I don’t want a Dodge.” I said.
“They’re awfully nice, especially after they’ve been modified. Our company adds a lot of thigs to make the driving experience a more luxurious event.”
My wife spoke up. “Bob doesn’t like Chrysler products at all.”
“I hate Chrysler products. Their advertising is always effete, making it sound like if you ever want to be anybody or have a penis that isn’t laughable, you need one of their cars to perpetrate the fraud of belonging to the elite of ownership.” I said.
“You don’t feel that way about Toyota or Honda do you?” He was still smiling, but his voice was sounding a little uncertain.
“No, they’re fine. I actually am interested in the Honda Odyssey.”
“Excellent! As you can see, we have a brand new Odyssey EX right here.” He gestured to a sea foam blue mist vehicle.
“It’s pretty.” I said.
He looked at me, apparently waiting for a wiseass comment. He got none. “Well good! Here, let me show you the features.” He gave me a complete tour of the car and all of its bells and whistles. “So,” he said, “what do you think?”
“I like it I said. It’s handsome. I think I like it just fine.” Unlike a regular car dealer, you can’t test drive the modified versions. There are a number of reasons for this, all of the reasonable. But I had driven an Odyssey at a regular Honda dealership in anticipation of owning one. The same was true for a few models of Toyota, Subaru, Chevy and Ford. I liked the Honda best. “So, what’s the sticker price on this fella?”
“It’s only 57,652.27.”
“Well, that’s not a bad price for all of the features.” He said, sounding indignant. He did have a point. The side and rear doors all operated at the press of a button on the key fob, and a pneumatic ramp came out that I could drive my scooter into the car with. Plus that it had a ton of electronic goodies including Bluetooth, MP3 player with onboard memory, navigation, rear camera, obstruction warnings, heated mirrors and on and on. “It’s all new and improved!”
“How in the hell can something be both new and improved? If it’s new, what was there to improve on?”
“Well, it was a figure of speech.”
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll take it.”
Again he looked as though he was waiting for a snide comment but none was coming. “How will you be paying for it?” he asked. I handed over my VA paperwork from their Specially Adapted Vehicle program and the number of my bank’s fax machine where he should send a purchase order for veteran contributed portion. “Great!” he said, the smile still attached to his face. How does he do that? He then explained the process he had to follow and said that I could pick the car up in a few days. We shook hands and I rolled my way back out to my POS Taurus.
“Pretty soon now, you’ll belong to my wife.” I said to the Taurus as I wedged myself in. My wife folded my chair up and stuck it in the trunk and then slid into the driver’s seat. “Well, this is your car now.” I told her.
She grinned. “It’s been mine all along.” she said. “You men just don’t get how it works. We women own everything.”
“Stay out of my Honda or I’ll void my Living Will.” I growled.
She just smiled.