Archive for July 19th, 2008

This is a story of the day an exceptionally lucky person got horribly unlucky. A story of terrible car wrecks, scheming used car salesmen and one suspicious biker. This is the day I did not find my beloved BMW Z3 with a 5 speed manual transmission, electric top, preferably a spoiler, less than 100K miles, leather seats and a shiny Atlanta Blue exterior.

Just three days ago I found a BMW Z3 that matched almost all my requirements, except for the electric top. All the way in Tacoma (Puyallup), but I had already planned a trip to Portland to see my mother who just flew in from The Netherlands, so I figured I might as well add a few more hours to finally get the car I’ve wanted ever since Pierce Brosnan drove it in Goldeneye. A few emails and phone calls back and forth established that we could come to an agreement. Just as I was about to confirm that I wanted to buy it, I coincidentally clicked the wrong link on Craigslist, and miraculously found another Z3, just what I wanted, but WITH the electric top. I emailed the private seller, let him know I might still be interested, but would check out the other one first, and my husband and I jumped in the car. (With a trailer behind us, so we could bring back a few things from Portland).

Here I was convinced this was my great luck as always, suddenly and by accident finding my dream car. After all, I always have great things happen to me. Like that time recently I went to a concert. Parked 20 minutes away, with the concert already started. And there I was at the door, suddenly realizing I had forgotten my ticket, when an old woman comes up to me out of nowhere and gives me a free ticket, saying she didn’t need it, and perhaps I could use it! Typical, fairly common event for me.

But Friday was the day my luck went down. (I blame my husband, who came along. He’s the unluckiest person I’ve ever met.) Only on the road for an hour or so, we unexpectedly ran into a traffic jam. As we slowly inched along the freeway, we passed a big flashing sign with a radio station that gives road condition info. We turn the radio to the right station, only to hear a vague sound, virtually incomprehensible, repeat a phone number and website over and over, without giving actualy traffic info. Is it just me or could they have simply put that on the damn sign??? Or course, when we called it, the automated system pretended to be entirely unaware of this 1.5 hour traffic jam that we were now stuck in. The traffic jam finally ended, after a long time, and as we passed a pile of trucks, cars and a boat in the middle lane, we yelled out the window: “Whoever caused this better have died for this.” (Turns out nobody was even injured *sigh*)

Portland saw us stuck in another one hour traffic jam, because by now it was rush hour. By the time we get to the dealership, it’s been closed for half an hour. Fortunately they decided to stay open for us. As we are now 2.5 hours behind schedule though, we realize we’re going to have to drive back in the dark, with a trailer that does not yet have the lights hooked up !! So my husband drives off to get some things from walmart to jerry rig the plug, and I stay with the dealer to go on a test drive. And what do you know, my husband hasn’t been gone for 30 seconds when I open the car and realize it’s a goddamn automatic!!! The dealership explicitely advertised that it’s a manual, on their web site, and now I find that it’s a damn AUTOMATIC. I tell them immediately that there is zero chance of me buying their car, but the dealer (who my husband said looked like a sex offender) suggests we go for a drive anyway, long enough for my husband to get back. 

The used car salesman and I chat about his upbringing in Oklahoma and Washington, as he explains to me that he wants to get out of the car business, because it’s so unscrupulous. Dude. WTF?? You’re trying to sell my car, and you’re sitting next to me telling me how unscrupulous your job is?? At least he was right about that part though. This car was a lemon if I ever saw one. Aside from the damage obscured in the photos, but VERY visible in real life, the car kept swerving around, pulling me to the left, then right, then left again, continuously. I thought briefly that it was in very serious need of alignment, but then it began to pull the other way. Disturbing and scary to drive. I tried to return to the dealership after only one block, but the guy said we might as well drive it since my husband wouldn’t be back for a while anyway. *sigh*

As soon as we got back, I called my husband, and told him to please hurry back asap, because he had my cell phone with the private seller’s phone number. Once he was back, he and the (very friendly and helpful) car dealer people jerry rig the trailer, as I make a call to the private dealer in Puyallup to see if we could see his car after all tonight. He says: Sure, come over!

So we get to the private seller’s house in Puyallup, only to discover that an enormous RV, to which he has no key, prevents us from test driving the car. The guy seems honest, points out some flaws in the car, so I tell him: If I decide to buy it, for sure, would you mind if we just drive it across your neighbor’s (totally dead) lawn? He says: Yeah, but how are you gonna pay? I offer to pay by personal check, and show him my driver’s license, university faculty ID, my car registration, etc. But no, he says he can’t accept that because we’re out of state and showed up late a night. God knows what the fuck the latter has anything to do with it, especially since I’d been communicating with him for days, and almost closed the deal beforehand. So I offer to pay by paypal, right in front of him, so he can see immediately that he has received the money. He says he uses Paypal, but doesn’t know enough about them to accept it for a car ?!?!?! I guess when the sun goes down, legal methods of payment become worthless in Puyallup, Washington.

Finally we tell him we’ll stay there overnight, and will come back in the morning and go to the bank together. As we leave, I realize I haven’t even discussed a price yet. And then of course all hotels turn out to be full. Nothing I can book on the internet either. And as we drive by USBank, we realize it’s going to be closed on Saturday (obviously) so even if we find a place, we’ll never get the car from this idiot. So we end up deciding to head back down to Oregon, to stay in the same hotel where my mom is staying. But of course our poor luck has not ended yet, and we managed to find the only two freeway Denny’s in America that are so full at 11.30 pm that there’s a wait for a table. (And we’re starving, having eaten nothing since breakfast, with all the rushing from place to place) On top of all that, we (and countless others) manage to get stuck behind some police convoy, going 30-40 miles per hour down the I-5, to escort some enormous metal thing. With no lane free to pass them for TWO HOURS.

We finally arrived at the hotel at 3am. I wrote a long email of apology to the car seller, explaining why we didn’t come back in the morning. Jerk didn’t even email me back today! And he’s the one who invites us over (7 hrs away) to come see a car that we can’t drive, and can’t buy either because he won’t accept anything but $12,000 hard cash, regardless of what we suggest to make it work. *sigh*

So there we were, after over 12 hours of driving, for an unscrupulous dealership with a lemon, and a biker dude who doesn’t actually want to sell the car he promised to sell me.

And what is the first thing I see as I walk out of our hotel, at noon, as one of the few vehicles in the parking lot? A goddamn blue BMW Z3. Not for sale.

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