26 December 2005

a visit to the car dealer

Christmas Eve Day my Dad and I went to the Saturn dealer near their house. My Mom is due for a new car, as her's is getting up there in age (though not miles) and is generally starting to fall apart. For example, on the way home from the airport, I had to slam on the brakes as a semi decided to occupy the same space as us, and the car pulled wildly all over the place, with a bizarre thumping under my left foot in the wheel well. This was followed by "oh, the brakes are acting funny, be careful" from my Dad.

Now, many of you know that my folks are getting up there in age, and that my Mom's health has not been the best for a very long time, and though she has stabilized in that department, she's still not really very healthy - pretty shaky, not the fastest response times, etc. Here we arrive the problem. She wants to drive, especially in case something happens to my Dad and she needs to take him to the hospital etc. On the other hand, in my opinion, she should not be allowed behind the wheel. I have had this opinion for about 7 or 8 years...and have not been in the car with her driving since I was about 19...

So to try to remedy this, she took driving lessons a few months ago after not driving for two years. She did pretty well did not hit anything. What kind of car was it that she was driving? A Saturn Ion. So that's what she wants. It's gotten pretty good reviews, and most people I know that have Saturns love them. It also has very high safety ratings and a nice compliment of airbags. My Dad has taken it for a test drive (though she won't because my Dad makes her nervous if she is driving - something about when he tried to teach her to drive a manual on their 1957 VW Beetle with an unsynchronized tranny. He wanted my opinion of the car, what engine to get etc. So, I went with him for test drives. Some of you know that I love cars, and I am a gear head when it comes to car stats, info etc. (not fixing, that was Matt's department). I ran circles around the sales dude, it was fun.

On the test drive, my Dad asked me to show him the ABS. They already have a car with ABS, but apparently, and very fortunately, have never had to use it. So we went into a parking lot and at about 25 mph I slammed on the brakes. Well, the car stopped nicely, the ABS thumped a bit. That was not enough - he wanted to see what it really did - you know, like they show on TV (it was raining out). So, we got on the highway, and at about 75 I said "OK, are you ready? There is nobody behind us, and I am going to slam on the brakes as hard as I can, and not let go until we have come to a complete stop." He said he was ready.

So, I did. It worked great. It felt like we stopped in 10 ft.

Dad did not fare very well with this. He almost passed out - he got dizzy and almost threw up in his hands! I felt so bad!! He said "OK, I believe you now, they work well. Can I get out of the car now?"