What is that car doing in the waiting room? Oh, wait, it’s the showroom for Santa Monica VW. This is the beautifully appointed part of the dealership where they actually sell you the car. You wait here for your sales associate to come out of the depths of the building to introduce you to your new set of wheels. They ply you with beverages and snacks, take you on the test drive, negotiate the deal, and have you wait while the finance department prepares your paperwork. Once you have agreed to buy the car, they usher you into a small, bleak, airless cubicle where the 3-foot long contract comes spitting out of the antique daisy wheel printer, along with the opportunity to add a myriad of options, protection plans, upgrades, and service contracts. An hour later, and several more hundreds of dollars poorer, you emerge with the keys to your new car.
I was here with my Mom shopping for a new station wagon for her. She has driven station wagons, and only station wagons, for as long as I can remember. In the 60’s it was a brilliant blue Chrysler behemoth bigger than a Hummer. I learned to drive in that gigantic thing. In the 70’s she drove a metallic pink Toyota. For the last 13 years a metallic green VW Passat with orange flames on the fenders and rear panel. We found her new car, a lovely dark silver VW loaded with all the latest technology. More like a computer on wheels.
The last new car I bought was my ’93 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Full-time four-wheel-drive and automatic everything. What a great car. It took me to work in Burbank through epic floods. It took us to the snowy summits without having to get out and grovel in the snow putting on chains. It took us on many a memorable camping trip from the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains to the blazing deserts of Death Valley and Joshua Tree. I currently drive a 15-year-old Lexus that I inherited from my Dad. It hums along, quiet as a top, and rarely needs any service beyond routine maintenance. I expect I won’t be seeing the inside of a car dealership waiting room for several years.