Since I have USAA, though, I also logged on to USAA's car buying service. This is about as painless as car shopping gets, folks, and if you even think you might be eligible for USAA's panoply of services, you really owe it to yourself to check them out. All you need is a parent who served in the armed forces at one time or another, and they don't even have to have been an officer anymore. The car buying service will literally find you the car you're looking for, negotiate a price for you, arrange your financing and tell you where to go pick it up. That's all you have to do; go pick it up. I mean, that is pretty hard to argue with. So I got on to the car buying service and searched for Toyota Corollas of a certain age, and the same darn car from Grapevine Motors popped up. The Web site even helpfully told me that Grapevine Motors was about 30 miles from my house, in case I was planning a trip out there.
So in no time flat I was planning a trip out there. From my work I'm about halfway there, anyway. I drove out there in horrible traffic, missed the turn twice, and eventually stumbled onto the place just a block or two from downtown Grapevine. And there was the Corolla, sitting near the front and under the lights. I looked at it for about thirty seconds before deciding to buy it. The main hurdle was getting Joan out there, to make sure she could get in and out of the car without too much trouble (she's having a lot of trouble with her knee and surgery is probably on the horizon at some point).
So the next night I made another trip out there, with Joan. She could get in and out of it just fine. I drove the '98 Corolla for the last time, having gassed it up and washed it earlier in the day. The proprietor of Grapevine Motors gave me $900 auction value, which I thought was exceedingly generous. Then he told me how much the Corolla was going to cost, I agreed, we shook on it and that was that.
Oh. Except for the title.
Yeah, I'd kind of forgotten that in transactions involving expensive things like cars, there are generally pieces of legal paper involved. The proprietor of Grapevine Motors needed the title for the '98 Corolla and I haven't found it yet. Half the time I'm lucky to know where my mortgage documents are, in case we ever have to evacuate before a flood or a tornado or some other oncoming disaster. I think I'm going to have to go to the county tax office and have a duplicate created, which requires both Joan and I to be somewhere, dressed and scrubbed and with picture IDs, at seven in the morning. But they can't sell my old Corolla at auction without it, so we gotta do it. I'll let you know what happens. I'm mildly concerned that if I take Joan out of the house before seven in the morning, she'll say, "Oh, great" and turn into a pile of dust.
Anyway, title aside, I do have a very nice new car. My odds of ending up on the side of the road in a pile of parts have dropped dramatically. You can even tell what station the radio's tuned to. And there's a (gasp!) CD player. Best thing, though, is that it's another Corolla. That means everything's right where it was in the old car. I reach for the air conditioning and my hand goes right to it. I need to turn on the defroster and there it is. And get this: I can turn the radio up and down using buttons on the steering wheel. I mean, what kind of newfangled gadgets are the kids in Japan going to come up with next?
Many many thanks to angel Kristen for helping to make it all happen. As I believe I mentioned, it wasn't a good time to buy a car at all.