“Hello there little girl, what can I help you with today?” asks the overly zealous car salesman the second I step out of the sweltering heat into the arctic Nissan dealership.
“Umm… I’m looking for a pre-owned Nissan Rogue or uhh a Honda CR-V,” I stutter, taken aback by his unwavering attention to my car buying needs. “I have a pretty good sense of what I want, but I’m picky… maybe you can help me.”
The salesman (let’s call him J) looks me up and down in disbelief before asking me what my budget is. After I tell him my general range he turns to N, my sister’s boyfriend who has accompanied me on my car buying adventure.
“Will you be financing this?” he questions N, suggesting that I am not financially competent enough to purchase a car without the help of a boyfriend or father present.
N, confused, laughs nervously. “No…I have a car. So uh… none for me today, thanks.”
At this point my sister S, N, and I realize that this man has deemed me incapable of purchasing a car on my own and, in fact, seems extremely skeptical of the thought of me behind the wheel of a 2,000 pound vehicle. After I convince J I’m older than 12 and indeed in possession of a valid DC driver’s license, he reluctantly hands over the keys to a sporty, black 2008 Rogue. I like the car, but it’s not exactly what I had in mind. The faux-leather seats feel tacky and the inside is crowded and dark. Once I hit the road, the car drives like a dream, but after circling the block a few times I decide comfort and appearance matter more to me than the variable transmission (yeah, I totally just learned that car lingo today).
Anyway, I’m cruising along, headed back towards the dealership when all of the sudden I hear loud honking over the din from the radio. I check my mirrors and see a construction worker frantically waving an orange flag and gesturing wildly. My sister immediately shuts off the music and in the ensuing silence we hear the last of a vituperative Spanish outburst from a hundred meters back. Turns out, in my ditzy, half-focused state, I had completely missed a stop sign and barreled straight through a construction site. Oops.
Thankfully no one was hurt, but still. It’s incredibly embarrassing to be a bad driver (I don’t want to support the stereotype that women are hopeless behind the wheel of a car) but even more embarrassing is having a 3 person entourage to witness my poor driving skills.
As much as I love cute SUV’s, I probably belong in a Minivan or a Volvo or, even better, a town car. I guess that’s the dream. I’m just waiting for the day when someone will pull up in front of my house, open the passenger door for me, and chauffeur me directly to my destination.