(Editor’s note: Shortly after this column was published, I received some terrible news about Betty Blue, the vehicle I traded in for my new Goldilocks. My friends, she’s been taken. Some ne’er-do-well jumped the fence, and used my sweet Betty to batter down the dealership’s gate and make off with her. If you see a dark blue GMC Envoy, with sun faded paint and a missing ‘C’ on her grill, that’s my girl. I had high hopes she would go on to be a tried-and-true source of transportation for a while longer, but now, well now, I’m afraid that’s not in her cards.)
When we last saw our heroine, she was mired in the existential angst of car shopping. Would she ever find the elusive perfect fit? Would the Bluetooth be as flawless as she hoped? What kind of interest rate would she be able to nail down?
Well, I’m here to update you on this hotly-watched topic. The deed is officially done. I have a new-to-me car, complete with chile pepper license plate, registration and a low-interest payment.
After my less than auspicious start in Albuquerque, I decided to stick close to home for the next leg of my search. To drive the roads I know and put my GRT where my mouth typically eats, so to speak.
I made an appointment with a local dealership to test drive a Ford Escape. It was a very pretty blue, which gave me pangs of Betty Blue. As I took off, I realized I hadn’t adjusted the mirrors or seat, and after fumbling through numerous buttons, couldn’t get the all-important Bluetooth to work.
Instead of continuing to flail as I drove, I found a shady spot in a parking lot to make adjustments. Finally comfortable but sans Bluetooth, I took off again.
That’s when it all went wrong. As I was exiting the lot, a message popped up the screen between the gauges on the dashboard.
“The transmission is not in park.” Pure terror shot through my veins. “Of course it’s not in park. I’m ******* DRIVING!,” I said very loudly.
I came to an immediate stop and put it in park. That’s when I realized the engine wasn’t running anymore. Well, this definitely isn’t the one, I muttered to myself.
I turned the key and nothing. Just silence. It was dead as dead could be.
A call to the dealership for a tow and a lot of good natured teasing later, I called it a day and headed home — after promising to come back the next day. I mean, the car lost it’s little computerized mind. I couldn’t blame the sales guy.
The next day, I went back to see what else I could break. I tried out another Ford, which was OK, but didn’t thrill me.
Next up was a Lincoln. Guys … this car … this car had everything — all the things — leather seats, heated seats, cooled seats, instant connection to Bluetooth, a moonroof that went all the way back. It was basically a convertible.
The entire dash array was digital. The needle for the speedometer was a digital image. I drove that thing with a grin so big passing traffic probably saw my molars.
After getting back to the dealership and my brain flushed out some of the endorphins, I knew it wasn’t the car for me. If just one thing went wrong, one fuse, one electronic component fried, I had a five figure paper weight. I know anything can go toes up at any time, but this just seemed like tempting fate.
Then I found my Goldilocks — a Hyundai Santa Fe. She was a little more plush than the first one but not as “holy moly” as the Lincoln. She made me smile in a less psychotic, more practical and long term way.
If I ever wash the dust off, she’s a lovely metallic flecked ruby red. Between the great gas mileage and my interest rate, I’m feeling weirdly adult-ish. I still play my music too loud, so I’ve got that going for me.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.