God sometimes works in mysterious ways. The past month or so I’ve been silently praying every time I get into the truck to head to work that I won’t break down on the way to and from work. It isn’t that it’s not a reliable vehicle, but with 301,000 miles it was starting to show signs that it was getting tired. The old red car that the overdrive went out of had been relegated for the oldest to drive the seven blocks to and from work, which works well for her, except you don’t dare take it down the interstate and it tends to sound like a jumbo jet taking off at about forty miles an hour. In order to figure out the least undesirable solution I decided to price what putting a new transmission in it would run, thus solving my commuting issue and giving us a reliable car to go on vacation on.
Sticker shock is something I understand and when the quote came back at over a grand for a car that is only worth $1500, it suddenly dawned on me that it might be time to spend a little of that money that I had stashed in savings and buy something reliable. The only problem with doing so is the fact that I have never ever had a good experience buying a car from a dealer. I’m the kind of buyer who gets really excited and then a few days later dreads the experience feeling as though I was taken by the old bait and switch.
On a whim home from work I stopped at Krieger Auto in Stuart and walked into the dealer just to see what they had on the lot. Now for those of you who have ever spent hours and hours sitting in a dealer while they play the “let me talk to a manager” game, you’ll know how warry I was when I walked in there. I spent about thirty minutes in there on a Wednesday evening and by the time I left I had a price quote on two vehicles and was told, “Go home and sleep on it…and call us in the morning.” To be quite honest, I was blown away. Here was a dealer who actually wanted me to think about it rather than pressuring me into signing before I walked out the door. On top of it, they told me that if I found a vehicle on their website at one of their two other locations, they would be glad to bring it from eastern Iowa just for me to look at it.
I went home, thought it over and chose my car, calling them the next morning about an hour after they opened. I stopped in that afternoon and another forty-five minutes at the dealer while they finished cleaning the vehicle and doing paperwork and I was out the door with a great dependable used car. It was the kind of experience that every one of us who have had bad experiences at car dealers should have and will definitely make me a returning customer down the road. I’ve had it for a week, and not once have I had that sense of doom that I’ve had before, other than being worried about getting the floor mats dirty before I could show the kids.
Less than twenty-four hours after I picked up the vehicle I was driving home from work when my phone rang. Hannah was at the airport in Toronto and her flight was being delayed and she was going to miss her connecting flight in Chicago which meant she wouldn’t be home in time to be in Grinnell for her gig as a staff member at Summer Games University. I didn’t flinch and did what any insane father would do and told her I’d stop and grab a shower and a sandwich at home and then I’d just drive to Chicago to pick her up.
So off I went and drove along loving all the features of the new vehicle, which still doesn’t have a name. I’m absolutely in love with the hands free Bluetooth phone feature and she and I talked back and forth as I got updates on her flight while listening to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball game the other two kids were at on the XM radio. The first small snag happened when I failed to realize that Interstate 88 in Illinois is a toll road and they don’t take debit cards. Instead I had to end up getting a paper to pay it online. After that small delay I came upon traffic at a standstill where they were tearing apart a bridge. Just as the road reopened and we started to move the phone rang again and the highly irritated female on the other end told me her flight had been canceled and that she would be on the first flight in the morning. Needless to say I’ll make this long story short, but finally she made it into Chicago (if you ever have to pick up someone at O’Hare be sure to use the cell phone lot) and we made it home and back to Grinnell in time for her to make staff orientation.
Oh sure, I would have never expected to have to drive to Chicago on a moments notice when I was looking at a different car, but I’m glad I stopped locally and took a look to see what they had. I’m thankful to the folks at Kriegers, who took the time to work with me and make the experience great and to God, for always putting me right where I need to be at the moment. So if you’re car shopping and are tired of the hard sell from the dealers in Des Moines, take the short drive to Stuart and see Tom or Joel, and tell them Weez sent you and be sure to ask for the Leon Bailey discount (they’ll laugh and offer you a fishing pole and a bait bucket I’m sure). See you next week….remember…we’re all in this together.