And the heavens opened up and a choir of angels sang ‘Hallelujah’

It really happened. It can be done. Yours truly can buy a car. And if I can, you definitely can, because I’m not good at it, remember?

Almost exactly a month ago I started car shopping. As of last night at about 8:45 p.m. – when my stomach was growling because I thought I’d have been home for dinner soon after we went back to the car lot TWO AND A HALF HOURS EARLIER – I officially became the owner of a 2008 Toyota Yaris.

Yes, it’s the one I told you about the other day. And I said we weren’t gonna talk about it then. But now we are.

It all started last week, when I checked back on Cars.com to see if by some miracle I could afford a car that wasn’t in as bad of shape as my Focus was. Lo and behold, there it was – the silver Yaris. It’s a car I had never even thought of getting, until I realized I was dumb to think I could afford an SUV and plus, Baby Einstein had gotten one and it was really cute. And, let’s face it, I’m a Car Copier. I got a gold Focus after my sister, Rachel, got a silver one and now, Sami and I have the same car – only they look NOTHING alike. Promise.

So the Yaris, which had been just above my price range but right in my mileage range for a few weeks, had been brought down $1,000 in price. Yeah, don’t get excited though, because there’s sooooooo much more that you have to think about. Tax, title, fees, financing, warranties and CAN’T I JUST TRADE YOU CARS?!

We took the Focus into the dealership Sunday afternoon, check engine light and broken heater and all and asked about the Yaris. It was already parked out front waiting for me to test-drive it – I’d called ahead – and it took me about 45 seconds into driving it to realize I wanted it. Dad, in the passenger seat, reminded me that I “wasn’t interested in it.” Remember? There’s that whole game that has to be played…

So yeah, so I hate this car, right? That’s what I’m supposed to be acting like – and we even looked at a bunch of other cars on the lot. The Yaris was the only one we drove. Then, because the guy who I talked to on the phone was WAYYY too busy for us, apparently, we dealt with Rodney.

Rodney, despite being named Salesperson of the Year for about every month in 2006 and 2007 (as evidenced by a bunch of plaques saying so on the wall behind him), has since lost his personality. He helped us out but it seemed to be a big pain in his ass to do so. He had them look at my car and started giving us numbers for payments that were gonna be $100 more than I could do, unless you know, I don’t want to buy groceries ever again..

Now, instead of last time, when I sank lower and lower in my chair with every word the guy said, this time I was ready. They told me they’d only give me $1,500 for my Focus, I talked them up to $2,000. This whole time, however, Rodney the Sweetheart had to keep going back and forth from us to what my dad and I referred to as the “Dons” or “Godfathers” of the car lot – men in different colored button-downs then the salespeople that sit in a glass office that you have to take stairs to get to. They’re also the ones that hover around while you’re getting bugged and if the sales guy isn’t doing the trick they swoop in and say basically the same thing as the other guy did, they just try to act like you’re crazy for not buying.

So. Don Corleone had my credit info and my other necessary information to talk about affording this car. Then they came back with some more numbers and I dropped the bomb – my bank had offered me 4.2% interest to finance with them. Rodney thought that was stupid. But he took that back to the Godfather, who said, “Talk to your bank and then come back tomorrow.”

I left lil’ Focus as collateral and said my good-byes to it and took the Yaris home for the night. I started telling everyone it was mine already even though I had signed NO official paperwork at that point.

Monday, I talked to the bank. Even though someone told me a week and a half ago that they could give me these amazing interest rates once I had a VIN number for my car – that didn’t prove to be true. They gave me HORRIBLE rates, basically punishing me for the fact that I have a) never financed before, b) awesome credit and c) went to college and had to use student loans. Thanks, bankers!

Here’s where it gets awesome though. Last night, Dad and I head back up to the car lot to finish the deal – or give the car back, which is the thought going through my mind the whole time. Seriously, kids, I have crummy luck. My hands were oddly sweaty and my stomach was hurting and I just wanted to get it over with. I put my head down, because I was TIRED. Dad yelled at me.

Rule No. 1 of car buying: DON’T LOOK LIKE YOU’RE CRYING EVEN IF YOU’RE JUST TIRED.

Then, wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, they came back with an interest rate HALF of what my bank was going to give me, making my payments pretty much exactly where I wanted them to be. I WAS BUYING A FRIGGING CAR!

As we headed over to the other building to finish financing – and be bugged about warranties, which I decided to get because we talked them down to a really low amount on the extra cost it’d add to my payments (lots of “No” and sending the guy out of the room for a minute so Dad and I could talk) – Dad and I high-fived and he told me I’d done a good job this time and been a good negotiator.

BOOYAH.

Three agonizing hours later after signing my name on what seemed like a million forms, my car was washed, cleaned and ready for me to take home. It’s mine and it’s cute and it’s (KNOCK ON WOOD) not nearly as close to falling apart as the Focus had gotten to be. And as we were leaving, Sweet Rodney was nowhere to be found. He was tired and had been there since 9 a.m. and decided we weren’t worth a good-bye and “thanks for buying a car from me.” Thanks, Rodney.

So I bought a car. By myself. No one gave me money to help with a down payment. I said no as many times as I could until they gave me a good deal and most importantly, there was considerably less “HELP ME” blinking signals aimed at my Dad.

I’m really a grown-up now.

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