by Mike McHugh
Quite accidentally, I’ve stumbled upon something that does far more to make a woman happy that giving her flowers. It’s better even than diamonds, at least as far as my wife is concerned. I know this because of the amount of time she spent checking Facebook on her phone the last time I took her to the ballpark.
What really made her happy was when I bought her a new car. She’s had it about a week now, and it’s probably been the most blissful week of our marriage in quite some time. It’s been so blissful, in fact, that it may be worth any husband’s while to buy his wife a new car every month. Judging from my wife’s reaction, it would be a lot more effective than marriage counseling and likely a whole lot cheaper than a divorce. It would be a great angle for car companies to use in their advertising—“The new Ford Mustang, at a monthly payment that’s less than the average alimony check!”
In fact, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that it’s even worth going through the hassle of dealing with car salesmen. Nothing against car salesmen, you understand. Everybody’s got to make a living, even if it does involve talking unsuspecting dupes like me into paying more for a car than the military pays for an armored personnel carrier.
I’ll admit that the car-buying experience has improved over the years, thanks to the Internet. Nowadays, a salesman can’t get away boasting about how the car you’re looking at was owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church on Sundays. Now, you can easily find out the whole truth by ordering a car fax, which will tell you about how the little old lady got plowed into in the church parking lot—it being not unlike the Talladega Speedway after the conclusion of services.
Unsurprisingly, the car dealers have adapted to the changing marketplace by coming up with new, clever schemes to whisk money out of your bank account, and when you least expect it.
Here’s how it works. You will conclude the deal with your salesman, feeling quite proud of how much you shafted him on the price, thanks to all that stuff you found online. Then, he ushers you into the finance manager’s office to conclude the paperwork. That’s when—wham! You learn that, for only an extra $100 or so a month, you can get a whole basket of good stuff, including an extended warranty, roadside assistance, and key replacement insurance. And you definitely need the key replacement insurance, because otherwise, when your wife loses the key (and if she’s like my wife, it’s “when” and not “if”), a replacement will cost you $500. That makes the key worth more than your entire old car was worth, based on what they gave you for the trade-in. It makes you wonder if, at that price, you could use the key to launch a nuclear missile.
As for me, I took my chances and passed on the key insurance. My wife, for her part, promised to be careful with it. I hope to heaven she is. It’s not so much the replacement cost that I’m worried about, though. I just don’t want her sticking it into some strange keyhole and inadvertently setting off World War III.