The last three days have been spent in a frenzy of car searching and comparing and, sweet mercy, finally purchasing. As it is the summer before my junior year, I finally accepted that no one is ever going to walk up to me on the street and hand me a car. I’m just gonna have to buy one. So let’s paint the opening picture. I have ten days at home to pursue car-buying before I have to be three states away. I also sorta need to buy a car before I go back cause I kinda don’t have a ride to Ohio. This is a pressure cooker of a situation.
I’m so bad at stuff like this, I really am. My ENFP speaks to my lack of follow through and it couldn’t be more true. I spent a few hours with craigslist and consumer auto reports and then tried to figure out what an auto loan was for a while while my dad excitedly told me about all the secret things I was gonna have to pay for like registration and title and anything else New York State can think of really. I called USAA and talked to someone named Helen who told me to find the perfect car cause I really can buy my best friend. I printed out some forms that I still really don’t know the purpose of. I was Ready.
So anyways, I emailed like a million (12) people to tell them I wanted to look at their cars. This was totally impractical because I clearly don’t have a car to go see all these cars and I also can’t go by myself cause according to my dad’s kind words I am “meat on a stick” for predators. Whatever.
A day and a half passed and I still hadn’t heard anything from any of my craigslist comrades and I started to get panicky. Does my email work? Or course my email works I get so many emails. Am I sending a secret message with the email that says don’t sell her this car? Of course not Victoria that’s possibly the strangest thing you’ve ever come up with. In the midst of my anxious craigslist refreshing, I got an email back. And this was no regular emailer. No sir, this was from Matt. Matt was selling a red 2004 Toyota Corolla with 120,000 miles on it that I was 700% certain was the perfect car for me. If I could have gotten an email from anyone in the whole world on that afternoon it would maybe be Lauren Conrad but probably still Matt.
Matt told me his beautiful specimen of a vehicle was still available and I could go see it tomorrow morning. He threw his phone number in there. I texted my mom in all capital letters that I needed to buy my car from Matt and promptly put him in my phone as Matt The Car Man. Please don’t tell Matt any of this. Matt and I agreed on 9am the next morning which for the record is outrageously early to view a vehicle and we were set.
Now my decision making is questionable at best, and this car was no exception. I can agonize over a decision for weeks and weeks, but the second I know what I want I don’t want to wait a second longer. I was ready to buy this car. I had no idea what it looked like in person but I had already named her Cora the Corolla and started planning all the adventures we were gonna have. Normally when you’re on the way to view a car from craigslist you should be thinking something along the lines of let me make sure they’re not lying to me about this car and it doesn’t suck I need to be a filter not a sponge in this situation. Instead I was thinking about how I had already accepted her, flaws and all. I knew she might be coming into this with some baggage, but I was ready to love Cora for exactly who she was. Think John Legend All of Me style.
Nine AM Tuesday morning my dad and I pull into a driveway featuring a little red Corolla with no plates. Matt comes out of his house wearing basketball shorts and looking like he just woke up but I don’t blame him much for that at all. The car is covered in strange scratches, the corner of the rearview mirror is chipped, there’s an unexplainable dent on the roof. Matt is selling this car for his friend but it felt sketchy so I’m choosing to believe that his friend is in prison and I’m buying Cora from a felon because I can give her a better life, this is a lot like an Big Brother Big Sister program. We took her out for a test drive and Matt came with us cause he was worried that I was a terrible driver and that we were gonna steal the car. Two very valid fears, way to be thinking Matt. My dad pressed all the buttons and made sure everything worked and checked that the doors were parallel and all the important stuff while I mostly pictured our lives together. I brought to Matt’s attention that the clock was broken, it looked like our felon friend got mad at what time it was and just shoved the clock right into the car. There was only one set of keys and I think I might actually have to jump on the car to get the hood to close, but I loved everything about her. While we were looking, Matt threw in that someone else was looking at the car that evening and that his lowest price was 5,400. I’m gonna be honest with you all, that hurt. Matt was trying to pull a power move and it was working. My life had become Beyoncé’s Jealous, and I resolved to do whatever it took to get this car. My dad told him that we would take some time to think about it and call him cause he’s sensible and doesn’t tell people that he would do whatever it takes to get a car. We make a good team.
Later that day, Matt and I made plans to take the car to a mechanic the next day to get her checked out. I’m pretty positive the car wasn’t insured cause the idea of driving her anywhere made Matt’s eyes bug out. He told me that he had called off the other person who was looking at the car. We had become exclusive. This was the real deal. I understand why people are in relationships now because the knowledge that Matt only wanted to sell his car to me was enough to keep me going. I told him I already named her and he didn’t respond because Matt thinks I’m a weirdo and he has every right to. That night as I was falling asleep I did not count sheep, I counted little Cora the Corollas driving off into the desert (this is a real thing I did I am not making it up it’s also pretty effective).
Wednesday. Day of Reckoning. Although I had already sold my soul to the idea of owning Cora the Corolla, it all came down to today and a man named Phil who professionally makes sure this isn’t shady business. My dad drove it to the shop cause Matt was more comfortable with that which for the record is sexist and then I anxiously paced around while Phil and Kurt made noises and said words I didn’t understand. After twenty minutes and a fair amount of pretending to follow the conversation the verdict was clear: Cora was golden. Requiring a horrifying one thousand dollars of work, but minor details. Enter a whole lot of fist pumps from Victoria while my dad repeats “Do you realize how much this is going to cost you?” into eternity.
This is where it all gets complicated and stupid and we manage to drive all the way across the county a grand total of six times in one day. We got all the documents, met Car Owner Matt who is a different person from Car Seller Matt, and who apparently is not currently in prison. I’m a little bummed about that. Six hours later I have license plates, a horrifying auto loan, and an unquenchable desire to sing Kelly Clarkson’s Miss Independent.
Life is grand, and I am poor.