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Sunday
Dec162012

Stockholm Syndrome: shopping for cars

RIP, beloved 06 Prius! :(I bumped up against my own inanity yesterday while shopping for a new car.  It's not a good feeling at all, that peering into my own BS, but I am supposing that in the end, it's good for me.  I dangled for a few hours in a dilemma of my own making, unhappy about the two options I could see (though naturally Joe could see many more than I).  And fretted.

And realized how susceptible I am to Stockholm Syndrome.

Even though buying a car these days is less disgusting than it used to be, far less skeevy Glengary Glen Ross, it still has much of the same song-and-dance.  

We went to the local Toyota dealership because we've bought two cars there already, I was intent on replacing our crashed hybrid with a hybrid, and I was curious about the new Prius c, which, if I'm being honest (what else?), is just so much cuter than the regular Prius.  We dealt with a charming Italian salesman.  Really.  Did they have my number or what?

We test-drove the c, were relatively satisfied with it and its pricetag, then drove a used 2011 Prius with heated leather seats (nirvana), changed our minds completely, had just completed the whole credit check and payment schedule routine, when I got an email from a friend offering us his two-year-old Prius, base model, low miles, for $8K less than what we were about to spend.  $8K less! With the generous settlement check from AAA, our insurer, it would be pretty much a straight trade, no additional dollars required from us.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right?  

Except that after several hours in the company of the car guys, I had a bit of Stockholm Syndrome apparently.  I realize now that I am pretty susceptible to this, like the time that we unfortunately sat in on a timeshare thing in Maui and I got insanely excited about the giclée print we'd also get for our minimal investment of $24K.  Thank goodness my reasonable, level-headed, unsusceptible husband was there to laugh me out of it.

Part of me last night felt as though I'd put the car guys out somehow, wasted their time, and *owed* it to them to buy the car, spend $8K more for something really nice, really low miles.  Did I mention it had heated leather seats???

The other part of me knew it was sheer assholery to spend $8K more -- let's be clear, to FINANCE $8K more -- for things that are not really important (heated leather seats, again).  

And so as a consequence I was a grumpy lump on the couch for several hours, trying to distract myself with comedy on TiVo, but hitting Pause every few minutes to voice my internal twisting, feeling trapped between two options, neither of which I liked.

And then we saw the cheaper car with our own eyes, when it stopped by unexpectedly, and I was done with my dilemma.  Sitting inside the actual vehicle, the pull of the car guys faded.  Done.  Walking back down our driveway, I handed Joe the phone and he made the call, letting the car guys know they could release the car, that something unexpected and wonderful had fallen into our laps, but thank you so much for your time and attention and, yes, charm.

I am easily charmed, apparently.

We'll make the trade this week, exchange the cash from the settlement for our friend's great little hand-me-down car.  I'm delighted that I'll still be driving an efficient little car, albeit with some nice upgrades since it's newer, and am even more delighted that I did the right thing, won't be out of pocket a single penny.  Phew!  

Most important I learned my lesson, got this reminder about my susceptibility, my wish to please, to not let people down, to keep up, to want fancy things that in truth I can't really afford.  Heated leather seats are still nirvana, don't get me wrong, but for now I'll just crank the heat in my new/old car and pretend.

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