Sirius satellite radio almost cost me $24,000 yesterday. Why? Because that's the price of a new car. Why would I need a new car? Because on day 2 of enjoying my radio my big freaking mouth jinxed it. If you've been following my Sirius travails you'll remember that I had to purchase a cassette adapter to plug into my radio in order for it to work. I practically did cartwheels when it worked. At the same time I asked my husband, "What happens if the cassette stops working?" His words, "The cassette's probably never even been used so I wouldn't worry about it." My reply, "You know this car is cursed so any thing's possible."
A little backdrop here -- When my father passed I inherited his car. It was a 1999 Olds Intrigue with only 17,000 miles on it, 15,000 of which was probably spent justing moving the car across the street and back to avoid getting alternate side of the street tickets. I thought, "Cool, I'll have a "new" car. My husband warned me, "You know what they say about getting a car from someone who died?" "No, what?" "It's cursed and it'll break down constantly." "It's only got 17,000 miles on it, how bad can it be?" "We'll see."
Well, we saw. From the get-go there were problems. Bringing it down to Roanoke my husband discovered none of the power windows worked so every time he stopped at a toll booth he'd have to open the door. The motor was burnt out so that was the first thing we replaced. That was the beginning of the end as they say. Power steering, brakes, tires, air conditioner, mysterious anti-freeze smells, liquid leaks, heating button jammed, the back panels of the inside door fell off...you name it...it went, and we fixed it. Thank God my husband is a mechanic or I would have really been screwed. There were even two recalls for something I don't remember. Each time we would drop a couple more hundred into it my husband would say, "You know you should think about selling this car." When cash for clunkers came around I was *this close* but my emotional ties to it stopped me. Well, my breaking point happened yesterday.
As I pulled into the shop to go to work I shut the car off before ejecting the cassette adapter. I realized there was a problem when I heard this whirling clicking sound. I started the car back up and tried to eject. No go. It would not come out. Just click, click, click, whirrrrrrrr, click, click, click, whirrrrrr. I tried jiggling the wire which only made it worse, causing me to lose the signal. My husband came out to see what the heck I was doing out there, saw my panicked look and then heard the expletives fly. He told me to calm down and gently removed me from the driver's seat before I picked up the crowbar in the back. He tried to eject it. It didn't work. He asked me what I did. When I told him he said that shouldn't have been a problem as most cars can keep a cassette in the player upon shut-off. He reminded me of what I said, "What happens if the cassette player breaks?" He didn't have to, I already remembered.
He brought the car into the shop, saying he would have to remove the entire radio. I got annoyed as customers came in whining about their unfixed vehicles. I marvelled at my husband's patience as they spoke in slow drawls, talking to him as if he was the neighborhood bartender, which annoyed the shit out of me. I couldn't take it any more so I would call the shop phone from my cell and tell him there was a call which was the only way these people would shut the hell up. After spending 6 hours there I can tell you I will never, ever, question my husband's need for a glass of wine the minute he gets home. In fact, I will make sure I have a case in the house, always, from now on.
But I digress...He gets the cd/cassette/radio out after having to take apart the entire dashboard. Since there's no easy release button he then has to take apart the unit...thirty screws later it's apart. There's still no release to be found. After tinkering for a while with no luck he makes a call to the local dealership to get a schematic of it. Naturally, they don't have it. No one does. So he goes back to trial and error. Since he is an extraordinary mechanic, although has never taken apart a radio before, he eventually figures out that there is a plastic wheel with cogs that seems to be warped. Manually he finagles it while I hold the light, poorly, on it and we're able to slide the tape out. Now, there is no tape in the cassette only a metal piece so it wasn't like it got tangled up or something as I had thought might have happened. By now we're both frustrated so we leave it on the counter and head to lunch.
When we get back, tired from a huge lunch, he figures out how to put it back together and inserts it back into the dashboard but doesn't put the rest of the dash together, just in case. When he presses the eject button the same clicking noise starts and the unit refuses to take the cassette adapter. The radio works as does the cd, surprise of surprises, but the one part that we need for my Sirius is broken. He says we'll have to buy a new radio and this time we'll get one with an auxiliary input so we don't have to use the adapter. How much is that gonna cost I ask. About $200 or so he replies. No, no, no, no, no! That's it! I've had it! This freaking Sirius! This freaking car!!!
I tell him I want a new car. He's thrilled with my decision and immediately takes me to the lot. I really could give a crap about a new car. I just want something that gets me where I gotta go. I've never been the type to say, "Man look at that car, I wish I had those wheels!" I'm more of a "Man look at those boots, I wish I had those heels!" So every car we looked at was like, eh, it's okay. They all look the same, a look I'm not impressed with. The one I sorta liked was a used Caddy and it cost $39,000! Uh, no. Then I looked at some other car which I wasn't thrilled about from the outside but inside it was pretty neat. It was black, had a sunroof and heated seats for the winter. It was something from GM, maybe an Impala and one of those dealer cars that they drop the price on. It had 7,500 miles and was still $24,000. My husband said I looked good in it. I could care less how good I looked in it. What I wanted to know was how much would the dealer give me for my car. He said he could probably give me $2,000. $2,000?! My husband reminded him that my car only had 27,000 miles on it. The dealer said maybe $4,000. $4,000?! I reminded him that the reason I was getting a new car was because the cassette player in the car stopped working. He looked at me like I was full of shit. But I wasn't, maybe crazy, but not full of shit. I told him since this was the first place we looked I'd have to think about it. Meanwhile my husband calls his friend who is a used car dealer at a Toyota lot to see if he had anything other than Toyotas, which is definitely one the many brands I do not want -- too many software problems which my husband says are only going to increase. His friend said he had plenty of used great cars and I should come down tomorrow.
On the way back to the shop I told my husband I did not want a used car with more mileage than the one I was giving up. We both laughed knowing damn well there was no way our buddy was going to have something under 30,000 miles. Then we spoke again about getting a brand new car. How in hell could I even think about buying a brand new car now? Oh sure there's those folks out there who would probably jump at one, financing it, but I bet they don't have one kid who's about to enter college and another who will in two years! I just couldn't justify another monthly bill. When my son called asking where I was since I wasn't home when they got home from school, I told him what was going on..."So I guess it's either put you in school or buy a new car." He replied, "Mom, I don't need college with all the mega bucks I'm now bringing home. Heck in thirty years I could pay for it myself." Haha!
Suddenly $200 for a radio doesn't sound that bad after all...stay tuned.