Sunday, December 16, 2018

A God Thing

To find your prince, you have to kiss a lot of toads. I kiss lots of toads. Some people have hobbies. Some have pastimes. I’d like to thing my bad habit – entering sweepstakes – as a pastime. Usually at night, after supper when we’re sitting on the couch watching TV, I open my laptop and enter a few contests. About a dozen or 15 a day. That is most nights, though on some busy nights I miss. At ten a night, that’s over three hundred a month, over 3600 a year. That’s kissing a lot of toads. 

Some sweepstakes can be entered only once. Some can be entered once a week. Some once a day. I don't enter unlimited entry sweepstakes. I haven’t the time. I don’t enter every sweepstakes. Just those with worthwhile prizes: cars, cash ($10,000 and up), houses, mattresses (we need one), and certain trips (NYC, Paris, San Francisco, Disney, and a few other places). Just those are too many.

Of course I rarely win, but most of the fun is entering. Sure would be nice to win a car. Right now there are sweepstakes for a Tesla, a Mercedes, five different pickups, and more. Over the years I’ve entered sweepstakes for all kids of cars.

Last year a small dealership in Cumming was giving away a used Civic, so when I was up that way I stopped by and entered. Recently I received an email that they were giving away an old Corolla, so on Wednesday December 5th I stopped by to enter again. Wasn’t far out of my way, and it didn’t take an extra five minutes. You never know.

Over the past few weeks my beloved 2005 Honda Civic finally died after a long, agonizing decline. Two major things were wrong with it. I couldn’t sell it to an individual on Craig’s List in that condition. Took it instead to Costco, and they paid me $500.00 for it. Matthew was driving Anna’s old 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which Will had handed down to her. I started driving Matthew’s old 1996 Buick Park Avenue. Drives great, though the gas mileage reeks.

I needed a new car. Not new, of course. Used. I surveyed the landscape and narrowed my choices. Good prices on the Kia and Hyundai sedans. The VW CC looked good but wasn’t as reliable. I needed another car that would last fifteen years. A Honda Civic. I love the current body style, which meant a 2016 or newer. And the 2016’s are just starting to hit the used car market, coming off leases with 25000-55000 miles on them. Several were at smaller dealerships with prices between 13500 and 15000, but most had been wrecked or were in poor shape. I was striking out left and right. Larger dealerships were hoarding the nicer, lower mileage used Civics, charging higher prices. To land one of those would cost 16500 plus 500-800 dealer fees plus 1500 in tax – almost $19,000.00. At that price I might as well buy a new one.

Frustrated over the shabby 2016’s, I heard about the Costco membership car buying program. Pricing begins under dealer invoice. I test drove a 2019 and loved all the features – many that weren’t on the 2016’s: automatic lights, econ mode, automatic emergency braking, lane assist, three backup cameras, automatic bright lights, and more. And though much larger than my old 2005 Civic, the 2019 drove like a small car. I was in lust.

I tried to justify buying myself a new car, with a higher payment I really couldn’t afford. Anna will be graduating college in six months, freeing up money – but Matthew is just starting school. Unlike Will and Anna, he won’t have the Zell Miller scholarship, or even the Hope. Tuition will be a big pill to swallow. And in 2019 I turn sixty. I can’t work forever. Retirement is a train barreling down the tracks.

Unbeknownst to me, Ceil rallied her friends to pray for me a car. Nancy prayed for a “God car.” I prayed for a car as well. Didn’t ever cross my mind to pray for a NEW car.

Fast forward to yesterday. Christmas is approaching, followed by New Year’s. Not much time to buy a car. I started contacting all the Atlanta area Honda dealers, asking for their lowest price. I hate car shopping, and this wasn’t going to be pleasant. As I sent out my queries, I began receiving back emails and phone calls from dealers. Uncharacteristically gruff salespeople with higher offers than I’d hoped. I realized one $500.00 discount wasn’t going to happen. This wasn’t going well.

Then the phone rang again. Another car dealer? Yes. I tried to remain civil. With Ceil, Anna, and Matthew buzzing around the house, I walked outside so I could hear better. “Hey, this is the Friendly Auto Gallery.” My mind raced. I knew these guys. “You just won a car!”

I tried to sound excited and appreciative. These were the guys up in Cumming. I replied “The Toyota Corolla?” “Yes!” I stammered “What time do you close? Can I pick it up today? I’m on my way!” We worked out a few details, and I went back inside. I recruited Matthew to go with me. I called him over to my laptop. I went to the Friendly website but couldn’t find anything about the Corolla. I remembered they were on Facebook, and looked there. They had just posted a video of the drawing. I called Ceil over to watch. Sure enough, they drew my name.

Ceil was a little skeptical at first. Soon Matthew and I were headed north on 400, discussing the merits of Corollas. For starters, better gas mileage. Arrived at the dealership and introduced myself. The four guys congratulated me. In the video they’d wished everyone “Merry Christmas!” and not happy holidays. Took a little time to process the paperwork, but I didn’t care. M went out to check out the Corolla. He game back and gave it the thumbs up. The guys took a few pictures, and we were on our way.

Like the used 2016 Civics, this 2007 Corolla isn’t in perfect condition, but I sure won’t complain. It ran well cruising down the highway, and the tires are in good shape. A few scratches, and it might not idle well. Odometer reads over 193,000 miles. Will take a little getting used to. At first I thought it would be a car for Matthew, but then I realized it might be a good daily driver for me. That new car payment can instead be used to pay down debt and pay M’s tuition.

Ceil was encouraged. Prayers were most surely answered. Truly a God thing. Next time I’ll have to remember to pray for a NEW car.

No comments: