Saturday, February 25, 2012

Non-Binge Purchase

While out in Colorado I rented the cheapest car they had: a Chevy Cobalt*.  I have to admit to not being a fan.  I didn't care for the interior, the exterior, the controls, etc.  It also had all the pick up of a hand cranked radio.  I hated every minute with that thing....until I had to fill it up.

I had been used to filling up our family cars on a pretty methodical basis and with a trip of any length the fuel costs had to be brought into consideration.  In either car there was no binge 40 minute trip and our trips down to Amish country dropped off from bi-monthly to bi-yearly.  That Cobalt, which went all around the state on one tank of juice, made me realize that even with $4/gallon gas there was a world where driving a distance was still an afterthought.

Even before the trip to Colorado though, I had half considered trading in my beloved Matrix because of the impact on the old wallet, but I always wisely decided that the lack of a car payment made up for its love of high end petrol.  With the accident though, those considerations came back to the surface and I was very interested in a car that could get good fuel mileage.  No, not a Cobalt/Cruze, that's just crazy talk.  I still like the idea of a hatchback, but I didn't want it to be ugly (like the Kia Sol, Nissan Cube, etc.) and that pretty much left one vehicle: the Honda Fit.

I've always been a proponent of new cars, but I figured my old car was (very) used and I didn't have a problem with it, so logically a significantly less used, used car would be practically new to me anyway!  (The Sandmiches have typically had a 'good' vehicle and a 'beater' and the Matrix was the beater, so there also wasn't a great need to get a faultless vehicle out of the gate).  From a friend's recent experience I knew that good used cars have a way of evaporating very quickly (on Monday she would make a list of cars that she was interested in, and by the time she got to the dealers on Thursday they would all be gone), so when Mrs. Sandmich caught a 2007 Fit with only 20,000 miles on it being posted for sale on Saturday we went out that day (well, this day) and picked it up.
Exactly like this, but in Ohio, not California

The car was on a list that we were considering but it was the best choice by a healthy enough margin (some cars had better warranties, but more miles; other cars had better specs, but weren't hatch backs, etc., and all of them were more expensive).  The sales dude said that they probably could have sold that same car four times over during the weekend and that it was good thing that we got in early.  I'm half tempted to say that was regular salesman bunk, but for the fact that a few minutes on the Internet would prove him mostly right (at least within 50 miles of our house).  Used car Honda dealers are bursting at the seams with Civics, Accords, and CRVs, but pickens' are rather slim when it comes to the Fit (a lot of people driving their fuel efficient grocery getters into the ground methinks).

One last note though, the car that I really wanted was the Civic Si.  They even had a nice, used sedan version on one lot and I got shivers thinking about peeling driving out of the dealer with that bad boy.  It was, unfortunately, exactly what I don't need.  Although the fuel economy is (supposedly) better than my sport equipped Matrix, it still takes premium.  There's that, and the fact there's probably many a rubbed chin at the insurance company when someone buys a car that's not much bigger than a Fit but with double the horsepower.  As a different friend (who is a Fit fanatic) put it when I was debating:
  • Me: "I'm still thinking about getting that Civic Si though..."
  • Her: "You don't need an Si.  If you get an Si every time you call me it will be you crying about how you have no money because of all the speeding tickets that you have to pay!"
  • Me: "I won't speed in it-"
  • Her: "BULLSH!T"
*The Cobalt did have one feature that I liked, a feature that I've only ever had on one vehicle that I've owned: the fuel receptacle was on the passenger side. This is like one of those "left handed" things in baseball in that its rarity makes it easy to find a pump at a crowded gas station since everyone else, who pulled into the station the same way, has their receptacle on the driver side.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dirty Day

On my way from my office to the plant where they were having a technical issue yesterday, a little silver Chevy POS quickly and violently (and illegally) swung out wide from a mall parking drive perpendicular to me.   He very nearly hit me and as a result of trying to avoid hitting him my poor Matrix has probably met it's end....
It was a newer Chevy that I believe was an Aveo, but I must confess that it may have been a Cobalt, but it was notable for having a rear spoiler, as if the backend of that thing would ever come off the ground without the rest of the car.  And yes, he lead footed away (I got out of the car quickly to try and run and catch his plate number, but trying to catch a car on foot is harder than you think).

A kind soul came back to help me, and she had a partial plate tag which unfortunately turned out to be very nearly useless (F0G 8207*, or maybe F06 8207, with '0's for '8's perhaps; anyway she gets an 'A' for effort as her testimony to the police kept me from getting cited and kept my insurance from giving me grief, thus far).  I work right across from where this went down in Parma and I'm hoping that over the coming months I'll have an opportunity to track his car down.

I always had a love/hate relationship with this car.  It was wicked fast, but it only took (lots of) premium fuel.  It could accelerate faster than very nearly any car in it's class, but it had almost no torque and would break a sweat on anything more than a mild grade.  The interior had amenities that I'll probably never have in another car (120v socket, six disk changer, sun roof, leather wheel and shifter, etc.),  but the thing chewed through break pads like chewing gum, and the clutch was starting to feel iffy, again!

It did have one redeemable trait that made it one of my favorite cars in the universe though: it was paid off.  Now I'm looking down the barrel of the friggin' debt gun again.  It's the way of the Sandmich to dream that one day in the distant future that I might be able to get our household debt-to-income ratio down under 150%, and anything that puts off that day, yet again, is a real kick in the groin (that's what sucks; even if I could track the guy down I would just be getting a B.S. check from a different insurance company.  I would still be out my paid off car).

*(Some kindly dispatchers tried to help Mrs. Sandmich track down the tag, but they insisted that Ohio tags don't have O/0s; which was quickly refuted once we got on the road and saw a canned tag that did have a 0.  When's that moon colonization thing kicking off?).

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Kid Friendly TSA

But we still reserve the right to grab your nuts...

Friday, February 03, 2012


Funny how a bartender automatically assumes that you have a brand of gin in mind when you order a gin and tonic (Bombay Sapphire).

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Colorado Thoughts #1

  • I'm sure it's only a reflection of the few places that I've been between Denver and Boulder, but this place sure seems crowded.  While driving in initially the place seemed like Cleveland, with fewer blacks, more Mexicans and mountains instead of lake.  I have to say though, the traffic is better in Cleveland, so I guess it's more like Chicago...
  • ...with a green mafia instead of a real one.  At least where I'm at the local authorities have taken it upon themselves to integrate miles and miles of bike paths into roads that probably have no business having anything to do with a bike path.  I know at times that I fear for my life on these roads in my car.  I'd probably have to wear Depends if I was going to chance them on a bike.
  • I'd never seen a prairie dog before.  So I thought it was amusing when I looked out the window of my workplace and saw one...and another...and several more.  A coworker said that the area was inundated with 'tree huggers' who can't bring themselves to dispose of the things, so every free patch of land has been turned into a gopher condo the likes of which even Bill Murray couldn't bring down (true to the video, the rabbits are real moochers of the prairie dog digs).  I tried to get a picture, but despite having free run of the place the things are still skittish; lots of gopher mounds though:

  • I asked one of my coworkers if they were from Colorado: "no".  How about another? "no".  What?  Did everyone just move here?  Are all the real natives over in Wyoming?  I was asking in the search of some native, non-testicular, food treat, to which one of the women said that Colorado was a 'chain restaurant paradise'.  That leaves me convinced that the only way to build an indigenous food identity is to import some non-Italian Europeans.  Asians, Mexicans and their related peoples are all one-note johnnys when it comes to cuisine (and many other matters).
  • I had a difficult conversation at the car rental company, and I guess this is rather old news, but it involves an amazing screw job non-the-less.  The local quick route away from the airport has been turned into a boothless toll road.  The company that runs the toll road sells passes, or just photographs the plates and sends the car owner a bill.  The rental company gave the impression that this was a $30 fee toll road (like a bridge in Japan or something).  After beating around the net, it turns out that it's still non-too-cheap at $6-$10, but the rental company tags on a $25 "processing fee" for the inconvenience of their cars going onto a toll road.  Needless to say, they tried to upsell me to a $60 all-you-can toll pass, which would probably only be worthwhile for someone who had business driving around Denver several times a day.
  • The rental car company rep also tried to upsell me on a vehicle (I got a Chevy Cobalt, so a bike an 'upsell').  Reason being that it was supposed to "snow".  She said it like I should be terrified.  I guess she didn't look at my license to see where I came from; I felt almost insulted that she thought that white flakes on the road would register anything other than a yawn from me.  Let me know when it's supposed to be up past my bumber, and maybe then I'll rethink my vehicle.