The official end of the Focus Party

Editor’s note: My sister and I owned the same kind of car for a long time. We each had a Ford Focus – mine tan and hers gray – that we nicknamed Mary-Kate and Ashley, because, as children of the 90s, those were the most popular twins we could think of to name our cars after.

I sold mine a year ago – read about that saga here. And just this past week, my sister sold hers.

She doesn’t have a blog and expressed her concern that she wouldn’t get to give it a proper Internet goodbye. Add to that the fact that I’ve told her I want her to guest blog for a while now, and you have this: Rachel’s farewell to her little Focus, twin to mine and a little silver car full of memories. Enjoy.

I’ve been saying I want to sell my Focus (aka Mary Kate) and get a new car for several months now.

Last Monday while driving home from work, I decided I was going to make a move and ultimately force myself to actually go through with it. Well, one Craigslist post, 19 hours , 6 phone calls and 25 emails later, a man drove to my work to look the car over and decide if he wanted it. I asked our security guys to watch out the window while I met with this guy just in case he was actually the next Craigslist killer, coming to kidnap me and turn me and make me his next victim.

Or as Laura put it, I’d be inspiration for the next Lifetime movie. However, the man showed up with his 17-year-old daughter (who the car is for) with seemingly no intentions to kidnap or kill me. Score!

While I stood there watching the two of them push every button in the car and test the sun roof three times, I suddenly felt like I was making a mistake. But it was too late. Turns out they loved the car, duct-taped window and all, and wanted it immediately. I told them I couldn’t give it up until Friday because I had a few things to take care of first. Truth is, I just wasn’t ready to part with it so suddenly. And I would have needed a ride home from work.

The drive home that day was sad. I felt like I was betraying a friend. Getting rid of something that had been loyal to me and been a part of my life for so long. I started thinking of all the memories. So since I know Laura loves lists, and this is her blog, I made a list of some of the best memories.

• The first night I got the car – I picked Chuckie up and we drove to a friend’s house, where we piled seven people into the thing and I took them all for a spin. I felt so cool. Oh and don’t worry – this was before all the laws about how many people a teenage driver can have in their
car at one time. (Although I think seven in a five-person car would still have been illegal…)

• The day I accidentally locked our dog, Lucy, in the car when I was trying to take her along with me to run errands. Thank God for AAA.

•Two road trips to Florida, once with family and once with friends. Both verrrrry different trips but both fun nonetheless.

• Countless Sunday afternoons when I drove back to UK from a weekend at home down Versailles Road right at sunset, with the windows down and Maroon Five blaring.

• One time I took friends to dinner in Lexington and we had just one too many people to fit, so a friend rode in the trunk to keep us from having to take two cars. He was my one and only trunk passenger.

• Crying and cussing like a sailor after the ice storm when I desperately needed to go somewhere and spent almost two hours getting my car out of the two inches of ice and snow it was buried under.

•The day after I graduated from UK when I was finally able to put a UofL cardinals sticker on the window.

Maybe it’s weird to be so sentimental about a car, but the Focus is so much more than just a car. It was my FIRST car. And your first car is really a symbol for the new-found independence and responsibility you gain when you’re finally able to drive off on your own. And to a 16-year-old, your first car really just symbolizes freedom. I’ve joked before that the top three places I spend all my time are work, home and Havana Rumba. But really, my car should be right up there between home and Havana Rumba.

This car has heard me laugh a lot, heard me cry a lot, heard me act out the entire Wicked soundtrack like I’m Elphaba, heard some funny conversations, some sad ones and actually even heard some life- changing conversations. It’s only killed one animal (RIP bunny) and it’s only been in one and a half minor
wrecks.

The good news is, I’m passing it on to a young 17-year-old girl like me, who will hopefully start the memory process all over again. I hope she crams 7 friends into it the first night she has it. I hope she takes it on road trips and uses the sun roof so much it breaks. I hope she sings her favorite songs at the
top of her lungs in it and maybe even has a life-changing talk in it someday. But mostly, I just hope she takes care of it. I know I’ll soon have a new car to make brand new memories in, but like a first love, a first car always holds a special place in your heart too.

Mary Kate, I’m going to miss you. Duct-taped window and all.

Advertisements

Farewell, old friend

This is my last post about cars. Seriously. I promise. Maybe. At least for a while.

For almost a week now, I’ve been driving the new car and I feel kind of bad to say it, but I am not really missing the other one all that much. Monday and Tuesday I did, but in the past couple of days, I’ve kind of….gotten over it.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a proper good-bye.

Like any other relationship, things started well. I liked the Focus, I wanted to drive it everywhere and show it off and when people needed a ride, I was first to volunteer because “ISN’T THIS CAR GREAT?” Keep in mind, kids, that I hadn’t had one in almost three years at that point, too. I even gave it a nickname – because my sister and I had almost identical cars (they were different colors) we started calling them Mary Kate and Ashley.

The lil’ Focus got me where I needed to go. I got it before the end of my junior year of college. And thank God I did, because when I had to pack up all my stuff and move out at the end of the semester, loading up my car and going was a lot quicker way to get away from the DEVIL INCARNATE than waiting for Mom and Pop to come pick me up from Louisville. It took me from Madisonville, where I had my first newspaper internship, to BG several times, and to Louisville the few times I decided to brave the Western Kentucky Parkway – AKA THE MOST BORING ROAD YOU’LL EVER DRIVE ON.

When I lived in Owenton and wanted nothing more than to be able to come back to Louisville and see my friends, my family, have a social life, it got me home and back, with no problems. But oh, the problems would come.

My Focus was made in 2001. It was four years old when I got it in 2005 and eight years old this past summer when it finally hit 100,000 miles. No big deal right? Wouldn’t have been, if my car hadn’t come to a dead, clunking, stop in the middle of traffic. And then it wouldn’t start again. Yeah. That happened 11.5 hours into a 12-hour drive to a relaxing vacation. What was wrong? Oh nothing, JUST THE FUEL PUMP. I don’t know much about cars, but I know the important stuff, like, A FUEL PUMP IS IMPORTANT. Luckily we found out it was a recall and got it fixed for free, but still.

Before that, it was a random window problem. The back windows, which neither I nor my passengers had ever even touched, started just falling down one day. Okay, maybe someone tried to roll it down, but they didn’t do anything wrong to it. After that, it just fell. All the time. I’d be driving and all the sudden it sounded like I was in a wind tunnel. Turns out, the window right behind me was just ALL THE WAY DOWN. And when I took it in to be fixed, wouldn’t ya know, the other one fell too. Seems it was right on the edge..good thing they took care of it. UGH.

The radio’s gone out randomly, the battery didn’t fit where it was supposed to so it was basically jammed in there. And when I traded it in Sunday, the check engine light had been on for almost a month. I’d say it was time. But you knew all this.

What you may not know are the good times.

In addition to all those places I listed above, that little car got me to and from two awesome Spring Breaks in college, stuffed to the gills with suitcases and other stuff we really didn’t need to bring but did, like, another suitcase. It got me to a couple CKRs and a couple of partial CKRs when I needed it to. Then there was “Spring Break 2005,” also known as “when Rebeck, Daniel, Carey, Anthony and I went to Puertos and Daniel was Dorian and saw people looking at him looking at them looking at him.” There was the Kings Island Road Trip where Rebeck and I made up interpretive dances and there was that woman with the bouffant in Anthony’s back seat.

There’s a million more things I could list, trips I went on or places I went that car got me – and usually 1 to 4 of my friends to, safe and sound. But I’m not gonna do that. It would take too long.

So, again, like any relationship, on Sunday night when I cleaned it out and turned in the keys, I did feel a little sad for a minute. It was my car for four years. And now it’d be someone else’s. There was a short little mourning period. Now though, I just try and remember the good times we had and I know that little car will make someone else very happy. Or be sold for parts. Whatever.

Good-bye lil’ Focus. We had some good times, and some bad times. But mostly good. I’ll miss you.

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.

Mind full

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Words in all caps make me feel like they should be shouted.

I’ve gotten e-mails in all caps before. It makes me feel like I’m being yelled at.

I have insomnia.

I wish I could turn the air off but I’m paranoid that the stupid Ticketmaster tickets with their new printing that makes the letters melt off if it gets above a certain temperature will get too hot and be messed up then we’re out 60 bucks a piece.

I wish I could sleep at normal hours of the day.

Last night was awesome – I need more nights like that in my life.

Everyone asked me if I still worked at the restaurant tonight. Should I be nervous? I mean I want to work there..

We’ve been spoiled by the smoking ban here. Tomorrow night I’m gonna be at a bar full of smoke. My contacts may fall out of my eyes.

My bed is comfortable, but could be even more comfortable, dammit I need new pillows.

My black flip flops have lasted about 5-6 years. I will not get rid of them until I can no longer walk in them. It’s coming though.

I have no idea what kind of car I want to get next year. Won’t be a focus though.

Why haven’t I been to Improv in forever?

There are a lot of random things that come to mind after 1 a.m. when you SHOULD BE SLEEPING.

Found out last night that they play some good music from about 4 years ago at 3 a.m. on 98.9.

TV in the bedroom hasn’t been plugged in since before vacation.

When you face a wall at the beginning of the song, karaoke’s not so scary.

I haven’t been to BG in a year and I cannot wait to go tomorrow today.

Can you acquire ADD, lactose intolerance or asthma?

When I have a house someday I want a pool and a projector and a huge screen and every Friday night I’m gonna have movie night in the pool for my friends and family.

Good night.