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Art of Buying a Car

A New Yorker Buys a Car in South Beach

By Natalie Greaves

On visits to South Beach, I occasionally hear the expression, "art imitates life." Interestingly, I will never forget the time that the art of buying a car became the greatest torture of my life.

Not too long after my 25th birthday, I decided to trade my native concrete jungle of New York City for sunny South Beach in Florida. Once, my only form of transportation was a Metrocard for subways, now I had graduated to car owner.

My first stop at a dealership entailed being headed off at the door by a used car salesman who tried to sell me the previous year's model for $1000 less than the new one.

My second stop included "Mr. Machismo" with his slicked back hair, and super-shiny jewelry. After five minutes, he bullied me into filling out a credit application. While I did the application, he chatted about living with his mother in a one-bedroom apartment on South Beach and had only been working there for two months.

My credit was great, but when he realized that I wasn't budging on financials, he suddenly didn't have any inventory. Never mind the billion I passed on my way to the credit application.

By nightfall, I pushed myself to visit a newer place about 20 miles from my still empty house. On the way, I had called a friend screaming, "Car dealers are evil!"

Her response, "I know. You forget I dated one of them."

I screeched up to the last dealership and ran up on the first man I saw. "Hey! You! You a car dealer?" You can take the girl out of Brooklyn, but you can't take the Brooklyn out of the girl.

I then proceeded to tell him my entire life story and about how I believed that I was going to be pushing a rental car for the rest of my natural life. I then gave this nice, sweet rookie car salesman the longest (three days total), most entertaining selling experience that he ever had. Thanks to my careful research, I got a great deal, and lots of free coffee and popcorn. I even felt bad when I realized that his commission turned out to be the size of my measly rebate. He eventually quit the job two weeks later. I'm still in denial about whether I was a factor.

A friend later told me that I would have probably gotten a better deal if I had worn a shorter skirt and shown a bit more cleavage. I have a suspicion that she might be right.

In a nutshell, for my 25th birthday, I created a new life for myself highlighted by the purchase of a new car. For my 28th, I got a hummingbird tattoo. Way less painful, although the artist had the same customer service savvy as in my first two experiences.

Now I'm thankful that I created this new life 1,500 miles away from my mother so that she never has to see this year's gift. Ever.