My mom has a GM credit card.
She has racked up something like $1500 points (dollars) to be applied on the next purchase of a GM vehicle.
Before my last brother died, she put on maybe *ten to fifteen miles a day * on her current car. It is five years old. Mint condition. It has 50k on the ticker. I would buy it off her in a heart beat, except I’ve done that route before and ended up with a car that was dying from lack of driving time in the real world. No, really. My grandfather was as equally non-rough with his car and that car was practically rotting from lack of use.
For as long as I have known her (36 years) any thoughts about cars or taxes literally sets my mother into ‘tight neck, fish eye’ mode. These things just cause her to have panic attacks. Until she was diagnosed with this problem - 6 years ago - I just dealt with it by using reason and logic. Which was a total waste of breath on my part.
She was audited by the IRS less than six weeks after my father died and since then she has full blown spasms over anything to do with Taxes. Every year there is this quest, akin to a Holy Grail, to try to find an accountant to do her taxes. She is very concerned about whether the guy is honest and will represent her if she is called in. Yet, she continously uses the free retired old accountant that offers his services at the Senior Center. And every year,after nailbiting her way through yet another filing and worrying she’ll get called in and then finds out she’s in the clear, the Old Guy she went to has died or retired to Florida, which is the same thing. And we go through it again.
Any attempts on our part to offer to pay her to go to our tax guy are pooh-poohed. We make the offer every year and every year we are pooh poohed. It is the Ritual of Spring around here. I will tell you this, Al Capone worried less about his taxes and getting caught than my mother and she has nothing to hide.
So, she is on a tear right now to buy a new car, which is a whole different barrel of worms of which we have to contend. We are urging her to get a lease.
Which she cannot afford because a) her investments are in the toilet b) until my brother passed on was still buying at least $400 a month in food so to take him a little something to eat at the home. c) on social security and d) it’s new. New ideas, thoughts or patterns are strictly discouraged at Chateau Mom.
So, sitting at the table, ignoring me because I am still wet behind the ears and she needs a man’s opinion on things which she takes as gold, she turns to my husband ( whom she adores, I secretly think, more than me, and he is welcome to it. That pedestal living is hard to maintain.) and starts asking him advice on cars and which one would he pick.
Mr. Ujest, very well versed in dealing with my mother patiently discusses cars with her as if she is his boss at work, or a guy on the bus. Y’know. someone with a rational thought in their head.
He knows where it is all going. He’s watched me walk that dusty road before. He knows she will never make a decision and she will get uptight about it, even with the meds she takes, which should be through IV drip when this subject comes up.
Yet, he is a brave, noble fool, and soldiers on. Then, patiently, and mascochistically, he asks her, " Why do you want to get rid of your current car?"
“Oh dear Gawd! It’s got fifty thousand miles on it! When my husband was alive…”
“Back in the last milenneum.” I interject, to be ignored by her. (He died in 75)
“We got a new car every six months on the Chrysler Program…blah blah blah blah. I’m an old lady. I don’t want to be stranded anywhere!” The hood she lives in is middle class to lower Upper class types. There is a Rite Aid or CVS on every corner within ten miles of her house. It’s not like she will be ‘stranded’ two hundred miles outside of Dead Horse, Alaska.
Mr. Reasonable asks, " *Have * you ever been stranded anywhere?"
“No!” Knocks on the kitchen table, " But I’ve been lucky. You never know." Fear of the unknown taking her last word up a notch. If my mother were an actress, she would be Margeret Dumont, from the Marx Brother’s fame. Classy, melodramtic, funny, kind, just not loaded. " I need to buy another car."
“How 'bout a Mini!” I ejaculate happily.
"Those cars are Death Traps™! " counters Margeret Dumont.
My husband smirks at me, " Just like your Festiva. " My first car, a shoebox, but, oye! How I loved it. It was predicted that I would die in it by the woman sitting across the table from me.
" Yeah, I’m still here after 100k on it. So much for being a Death Trap™…maybe I could sue them for failure to kill me."
I get from my Mother a lookfrom her that tells me she has me on Ignore Mode now. Good, its just the place I want to be.
“I need to get a new car.” She slaps the table to make her statement more profound.
“Why don’t you lease?” My husband mimicks her table slapping.
“I can’t afford a lease. My finances are in the toilet.”
“Just like they were ten…twenty…thirty years ago, Ma.” I said cheerfully. “You’re not getting richer, just older.”
“Exactly!” Counters my husband, the Bud Abbott of us, “Haven’t you ever heard of living in the moment. Riding around in style?”
“Style! Oh sure, that’s just what I need. How about a chauffeur to carrying me anywhere I want to go. With my investments so unsure, I cannot commit to a lease.”
“Ma, you spend more money a month on food you don’t eat than a basic lease costs.” I retaliate in exasperation. Pointing to the closed cupboard doors in her spacious kitchen that all, but two, are loaded with food that she buys. It is her crack. Her heroine. It is her addiction. Buy food. Because you never know what tomorrow will bring, so here is a box of five year old Fiddle Faddle to make it through The Next Depression™. " You know that blue pickup truck we drove for awhile? Our lease was $125 a month. I bet you could get something like that…"
“What would I do with a pickup truck?”
“Think of the crap you pick up garage saling.” My husband says very serious. “It could be bigger. Crappier.”
“I beg your pardon.” She counters loftily, " I buy only the finest junque. J-u-n-q-u-e."
“And that j-u-n-q-u-e is my inheritance.” I shoot back, hand holding my chin.
Realizing that the conversation has derailed, she charges right back into the thick of things. " I cannot commit to a lease. I have a fifteen hundred dollar savings coming to me."
They talk car talk for several moments, my mother wanting a nice, reliable, safe, cheap, well made car. My husband trying to explain that those words are no longer connected to today’s models. It’s not good for sales. Bigger, pretenious, gas guzzling. Buzz words of the modern age. This is nothing new in this car discussion either.
Valiantly, like a knight-errant, my husband sallies forth the bold concept of maintaining her present car which bombs instantly and I just slip into my happy mental place knowing that no matter what we say she will not listen and end up going out and buying a new car and then a year after that, we will be having the exact same discussion. *It’s a year old. It’s got five thousand miles on it. It could go at any moment. I don’t need hassles like that at my age. *
I slap the table, “I can save you ten thousand dollars or more!”
Two sets of eyes look at me, only one set is amused, the other looks like she’s about to ground me.
“Don’t buy the car and you save at least $12,000 if not more.” I lean back in my chair, content with the world. My husband agreeing with me entirely with a smile. My mother is more than annoyed. I am about to be disavowed, and that is alright by me.
“You don’t know what it is like being an old lady and knowing that there are people out there trying to take advantage of you. Mechanics…”
“You’re trying to have sex with a mechanic?” says my husband in a serious tone. " You don’t want grease spots on your polyester."
“Yeah…” I shoot back, boxing my mother in, " I’d hold out for an accountant."
“Yeah!” retorts my husband, " Then he can do your taxes."
I get the eye from her. The look that use to freeze me in my steps as a youth. It’s not so frightening anymore, it is really actually comical. " I raised you to be a lady. Don’t be so uncouth."
" If she wasn’t uncouth at least twice in our marriage, you would not have two beautiful grandchildren." retorts my husband, then looking at me, " What does uncouth mean?"
" Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It." I dryly reply.
“Look,” Says my mother, irritated that we are not taking her seriously, her tone ominous. " You have no idea what it is like being an old lady. When you are old like me, *you’ll know. You’ll understand. *" Her camp was better than Vincent Price.
“No.” says my Husband, deadly serious, " We’ll lease."
“A Mini!” I ejaculate happily.
“And we’ll have a chauffeur!” retorts my husband.
And with that we are pooh poohed by her, giving the brush off, until the next time we sit down with her. Then it will all start up again.
Which will probably be dinner on Sunday.
I bet I can save her ten thousand, if she’ll let me.