Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Harrowing Day

Well, it is now nearly 10 PM on a day that started somewhere before 5 AM and I am beat. The day started with Ben heading off to work very early and me sneaking in a load of wash (and they talk about the gay agenda=HAH). I headed to work, and the fun began. There was NO work coming in and we soon found out that the much awaited and dreaded outsourcing had occurred over the weekend -- good bye American jobs. The temp agency agent was onsite and we knew something was up. Row by row in our section they gathered up five or six folks and took them to the conference room where they got the bad news that they were no longer needed. One of my new friends was among the victims and she was quite shaken by it. The rest of us sat with concern as we waited. What was next? They came and got about six more of us and took us in the conference room. As irony would have it, just as we were settling in for whatever lay ahead, I got a call from the car dealer with the news that my loan was approved at a better rate than I had negotiated elsewhere (Still not a great rate in today's market, but do-able -- more on the car in a moment). I asked if we could chat in a little bit, and hung up. The next thing I heard was, "This announcement should be more pleasant than the last one." That meant we weren't getting the axe - yet. Then one of the bosses asked, "Who is willing to take on a new assignment?" The obvious effect of a negative response would have been to join those who had just left. So tomorrow I start training for some new and exciting task in the organization that continues to shaft people and outsource US jobs. How exciting. After the hub bub of the announcements died down (a little) I contacted my salesman and arranged to be at the dealership at 5 PM. I called Ben and he met me at work and off we went to pick up "Little Red." We arrived at 5 and FINALLY left with the car at 8:30. It seems that lots of people bought cars on the holiday and all the sales people arranged for delivery this afternoon and evening. AND they had ONE finance and insurance manager on duty for these multiple deliveries. Finally about 7, we asked for keys (they had taken the keys for my "trade" along with my driver's license) so that we might get some food. We headed to McDonalds where 00 wouldn't you know it -- they screwed up an order. Not our day. We headed back to the dealer and proceeded to wait another half hour for the F&I guy to finish up with another customer (who happened to be a former co-worker of Ben's who managed to keep her temp job when he lost his-- seeing her buying a NEW car really made him bristle, but my ever diplomatic sweetie went up and chatted with her for a few minutes as she was finishing her deal and getting the hell out of the way so we could finish up and go home. (See -- Im not nearly as nice as he is LOL). We sat down and finally I got to see and hear some actual numbers -- I HATE CAR DEALERS. The number I heard made me nearly get up and walk out -- that is NOT the price that the salesman had quoted us yesterday. Well, my beginning to balk at the deal -- even after three hours of sitting around waiting for them -- got some attention. They refigured things and took out the check they were "giving" me to add cruise control. What they did was add the amount of this check to the price -- duh! I told them that I could pay for the cruise without their check and they revised the paperwork accordingly. Then I got to turn down credit life, extended warranty, GAP coverage, roadside assistance, and some other fancy add ons. Finally we were done and leaving with the new car. It's great. I still need to go back to the dealer tomorrow and pick up additional keys (they are part of the security system, computer coded, expensive, and controlled). I still cant figure why they couldn't get them made today, but that's car biz. We headed home and Ben medicated the cat and headed to bed in anticipation of a 4:30 AM alarm clock. So that was Tuesday. Wednesday will hold BS of its own, so I think I will close and get myself snuggled in next to my sleeping man. Have a good one and say a prayer for us to enjoy the new car.

Tuesday Morning

We've reached the end of a wonderful three day holiday weekend and now it's back to the grind. I hope you all had a great time celebrating the "start of summer fun." Around here, Saturday was kind of business as usual as Ben was working on his sermon for a Sunday morning preaching engagement. Sunday, obviously, started with church --Ben was brilliant of course. The rest of the day was just kind of a lazy time. The weekend did include some car shopping -- a difficult task since most dealers here are closed on Sunday and holidays. That did not deter us. On Sunday we looked on the Chevy lot (they were open). Not much there of interest, though they had the most pre-owned (they used to call those "used cars") of anywhere we looked. On Monday we headed to the east and south ends of town and hit several dealers -- mostly closed and without much exciting inventory. Then we hit the Honda dealer. They had the prettiest little 2004 Civic in RED (Ben called it "arrest me red.") and the salesman stated that it gets about 40 mpg. BUT it didn't have some of the bells and whistles I was looking for -- power everything and cruise control. So off we went to the Toyota dealer (Boy, they were proud of their stock!). They were open and had free food, so we gobbled down pulled turkey sandwiches and baked beans. While we were en route and looking at the over priced Toyotas, my mind and hear kept going back to the Honda. I decided that rolling down windows by hand was not beneath me. The car looked great and only has 25000 miles on it and the gas mileage sounds great (especially at 3.50 + per gallon). So we headed back to talk to the salesman. "What about adding cruise?", I asked. We decided to test drive it while he got the answer to that question. When we started it and drove off the lot, the low fuel light was on so we didn't go far -- who wants to run out of gas? It handled and rode really nice and I was falling in love. We got back and found out that cruise could be added (for a price of course). Then there was the dreaded "Credit app" process. I had already prearranged financing, but it never hurts to compare possibilities. He came back saying that they were quite sure that they could beat my other quoted rate, but they couldn't finalize that offer until the banks were open on Tuesday morning --DUH--I rather expected that answer. So they put a hold on the car and will be calling me today. Before we left, we got them to put a little gas in the car -- actually they gave us five bucks and we put gas in it. That experience was another whole story, but then we headed out onto the interstate to see what kind of zip or lack of zip we were buying into. Let me tell you this little baby car has PEP! SO -- the upshot is that I sit and wait for a phone call from them about financing today. If their offer is better than what I have as a backup, I will come home tonight with a "new" car. If not, I will wait a day or two for the paperwork on the other loan and complete the deal. Am I excited? YES! Is my entire future happiness dependent on this deal? NO! Am I counting chickens before they hatch? NO. I have cleaned out the old Chrysler for its final ride in anticipation of the new Honda, but I can always drive it home again if need be and keep looking. Updates later. Here's hoping!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Fashion Alert

There's something that bugs the stuffing out of me and I just need to sound off. That is the way in which so many of young folks today don't seem to know either how or where and when to wear their "baseball caps." It may be a generational thing but I believe that the caps are made with a brim that is supposed to face forward, offering the face some protection from the sun. Yet these days it is rare to see a hat worn correctly. They are off center, backwards or even sideways. It looks STUPID to me. And then there's the where and when -- my goodness, if I'd worn a hat in the house as a kid it would have been flipped off my head before I could say hello. And what's more -- at the dinner table: YIKES. I have nothing against wearing caps - I own a few and wear them now and then, but I wear them brim forward and when I get inside they come off. What is the big deal? Is the penchant for wearing the hats wrong a fashion statement? a statment of independent nonconformity or what? Whatever it is, please take a good long look in mirror. Wearing the latest "fashion" isn't always the most beneficial or becoming. If you're gonna wear a cap, do me a favor and put it on right! And do my mom a favor and take it off at the dinner table. And THAT'S the way I see it on this Sunday afternoon. Any comments?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Just When You Thought it Couldn't Happen

Just when you thought it couldn't possibly happen, gas prices took another big jump around here today -- it's now 3.63 a gallon. It jumped a few days ago to 3.48, but had begun to back off a bit -- it went down to 3.38 (Can you believe that is DOWN?), and I thought I'd get some this evening. But at lunch time one of my co-workers came back with news of the price jump. Where will it end? The price of gas is driving up the price of food and other items. People will soon have to decide between gas and food, between spending the money for vacations or staying close to home. I think it makes a lot more sense if "supply" is the problem, to lower the price and impose rationing or to find some combination of price breaks and rationing. It's also important for people to think before they just jump in the car and head out. And these big SUVs have got to go -- There must be other ways to compensate for under endowment. I sure don't have all the answers, but we all need to brainstorm to find a way out of this dilemma. Otherwise prices will continue to rise to the point of causing revolution. Share your thoughts and ideas. Maybe someone out there has the answer. Is is you?

Tuesday Morning

Well, it's very early -- not yet six am and not yet daylight. I am up and at it already. Ben left the house a while ago to head out for his latest temp job some forty five minutes away. I shudder to think about Michigan's future -- the economy and job market are going down the drain and the state has a budget deficit of more than three quarters of a billion dollars. The auto industry that used to drive the entire state economy is in a mess and the ripple effect is devastating. Add to that the record high gas prices and it's no wonder that people are scared! I am in the beginning stages of searching for another vehicle. My 1994 Chrysler is running alright, but it is on borrowed time -- the electrical system is either dying or it's possessed. If that goes, that will be the end. And of course car shopping is one of my "favorite" things. I prefer root canal surgery! Why can't automobile dealers clearly mark the prices and let me wander among the choices? Why is there this game of dicker and barter reminicent of a garage sale? And then there's the "pig in a poke" problem -- where has this car been? Did it get imported from New Orleans after Katrina? Was it a star in the demo derby? Did it belong to someone who never heard of maintenance? And on top of that -- I don't know for sure exactly what I am looking for -- good solid transportation, fairly low miles, good gas mileage (no SUVs please), etc. I have some ideas as to size and all, but the money, mileage, and economy factors will ultimately drive the decision. SO -- where do I go look? I was at one lot last night and you'd have thought the salesman was my new best friend. All the chatter and patter and charm of a snake oil salesman. Are there any ethical customer oriented auto salespeople out there? If so, let me know where -- I will go give them my business. The whole car shopping thing makes me sick to my stomach and leaves me with a splitting headache. I did see a couple of nice cars, but I guess I'm not quite ready to take the plunge.

On top of all the usual rigors of the car shopping torture is the financial concern. How long will this temp job last? Will Ben find the right call soon? Will I? Will we have to spend the money for rentals, moving expenses, and other living expenses? Do I dare take on another obligation? Stay tuned -- I'm sure there will many car salesman stories ahead. I wonder how many of them end up in politics? Hmmmmm.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Back by Popular Demand

Hi all; it's been more than three weeks since I have posted anything here, and today I received a comment from a reader asking me to come back. I have tried a couple of times over these past weeks, but there was either no energy or no inspiration. However, it is my intent to be back, to post an occassional thought, and to be a part of the blogging world once again. This weekend Ben and I went the big art festival at East Lansing. We went Saturday and I found a Christmas print that I liked but decided to "sleep on it". Today after church we decided to go back and get it, so now there's more Christmas stuff in the house -- YAY. And for those who count, it's just over seven months til the big day. My job continues to leave me drained at the end of the day so doing much on the computer in the evening is kind of anti-climax. We both continue to seek direction (and jobs). It's kind of interesting being in "free fall" but it's been going on for too long. I believe that something is going to break soon. So stay tuned for updates and pray that I will find the where with all to hang in there and post more often. It is good to be back and thanks for letting me know I was missed.