It’s almost June and it’s gotten cold enough to switch the space heater on in the living room. Surely I will live to be a ripe, old age because I’ll never thaw out. Where is summer?
I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I have been busy living this thing we call, “life.” On Wed, the 15th of May, I passed my Practical Driving Test! Changing instructors was the best thing I ever did for myself. It only took 3 months of driving with her and I passed my test on the first try after the switch. She’s awesome and while I’m relieved to have that stupid test over with, I’ll miss my lessons.
So, after passing my test, I was exhausted emotionally - the whole process is a 40 minute drive that renders you mindless because you’re so freaking nervous. But I went to search for cars as I had been doing for a year since I started learning to drive.
Let me tell you what an absolute pain buying a car can be. First, I wanted to try the Kia Soul because it’s so stinking cute. They had a used silver one at Benfield and I took the Metro, then walked all over creation, including a busy highway, just to get to the car lot. The salesman was nice, and I drove on some quieter roads, just to get the feel of the car. I drove it pretty well, and I would have bought it, but Steve assured me that I should try out some others. I asked about the promotions they have for the Nissans there, but was told that the £115 a month sales on the Micras were only if you put down a huge £3000+ deposit. No thanks. I told them I’d be back for the Kia once my husband was available to look on Saturday. Of course the salesman wanted to drop the car off at the house to ensure we focused in on the one car, but I declined the generous offer.
I moved on to Evans Halshaw because we had looked at new Hyundais a while back. The salesman there was nice and he had to shoo off another salesman as we were looking (to which he apologized for his co-workers actions.) We really thought we’d get that i20, even after we looked at the Vauxhall Adam which was too small, but very cute. The salesman at the Vauxhall branch leaned in the window very intrusively as well, and we wanted to get out the minute we got in. Well, when I went back to Evans to look at used Hyundais, I noticed that few cars had any info on them. When I asked for the mileage on an i30, some super pushy salesman came out, stood in the door of the car so I couldn’t get out, told me all about how Evans was the best place to buy because people always come back. After sitting in the stupid car for 1 minute, the pushy salesman goes, “So, do you want it?” I really should have laughed at him, but instead I had to push past him to get out of the stupid car, and told him how I wasn’t going to buy anything until Saturday. He tried to get me to buy some weird looking Peugeot too which was and never has been in my consideration list. (No offense to Peugeot.)
After escaping the pushy salesman with the, “yeah, yeah, here’s my number, I’ll be back Saturday,” b.s. the salesman went, “Well when you come back Saturday, don’t talk to anyone else but me!” He also gave me his card twice within the minute I was there, and printed off info about the i30 and said Peugot for me to take home. I threw them out at the gas station next door. He’s called at least 20 times since that meeting as well. Next time he calls, I’ll tell him to bugger off.
Aside from being full of pushy salesmen, Evans also is in a really crappy area of town. On my way back to the Metro station, I also got accosted by yet another drunk who was being looked for by the police and wanted to pretend he knew me. I talked to Steve on my mobile as I walked to the Metro with a drunk dude with a shopping sack full of wine. I was ready to buy that Kia and forget ever taking public transport again after that. Good Lord, I must just look really nice or something.
Anyway, I went home and looked online for other cars I could compare with the Kia at Benfield. When you use their online chat, there’s one rep who contacts the local dealership about the car you’re interested in. When I went to chat the second time, they threw the original rep at me who was questioning me about the Kia. “Yeah, yeah, it’s fine, but can I see another car to compare it with?” Their site indicates that any car on any of their nationwide lots can be brought up to another dealership for viewing. I mentioned this in my previous posts on the history of my car ownership and my speculative U.K. car purchase that I have had 2 Toyotas in my past and both of them served me well. I asked Benfield if I could take a look at an Auris they had listed. They said they could but it was in Leeds and I’d have to pay them £100 to have it brought up to look at. What? No. I could go to the local Toyota dealership and look at hundreds of them for free.
And that’s what I did. I looked at two Aurises from Hodgson Toyota and chose a black one that I took through Northumberland on my test drive. (I didn’t realize Northumberland was that close because I’d never driven a car through there before.) The salesman was nice and not pushy at all. He drove me back and forth to the bus station as we went through my paperwork visit too. I like my Auris because it’s pretty much set up like my old Corolla that I sold when I moved to England. I picked it up on Saturday the 18th, just before they closed (we took a detour to the Toby Carvery and then slugged through traffic in the taxi.) Now it’s sitting out front with my “P” (for “passed my driving test” – my U.S. friends were confused by that) and my Hello Kitty magnet from EPCOT on it. It’s been well taken care of and I’m extremely happy with my executive decision to buy what I know.
As for the roads and the actual driving – oh my. Steve bought me a Garmin which helps me immensely, but I still get nervous and freaked out about getting in the wrong lane or taking the wrong exit. It’s not like being in Orlando and knowing, relatively, how to get back towards the coast to get back home. But now that I have a car, the supply teaching jobs have been pouring in. I’ve also been driving myself to teaching jobs, which is way better than taking the bus for an hour. My first assignment was to go up the highway/motorway to Alnwick (pronounced “Annick”) which was a 40 minute drive in the country. Basically it’s Virginia, just on the opposite side of the street up there. I was scared to death to do it, but I did. I took wrong exits and just followed the Garmin’s instructions to get back. Sometimes I get confused by what lane/exit to take because once you get in the roundabout you have options. I hate that. Tell me to go here and here for the A1. That’s all I need to know. Sometimes the exits aren’t even marked, you just have to hope that you followed the roundabout sign 50 feet ago and the lane markings correctly. (Yes, we have signs and writing on the lane. Confusing!) But I’m really enjoying working in Primary Schools so maybe they’ll hand me a job next school year or something. At least I can drive to it.
But anyway, I’ve been driving Steve back from work, and we’ve been able to do more, as I predicted. Yesterday we went back to Beamish. It took 10-15 minutes but I had to go on these super windy, tiny, hilly, narrow country roads to get there. I’ve seen roads like that in Ohio when I was little, but back then I wasn’t in charge. I had no intention of going 60 mph as the speed limit indicated. I took my sweet time and made it without having too much of a heart attack.
So that’s my story of the driving. I am still in the not 100% sure of what I’m doing mode but I’m not going to be too hard on myself – I’ve seen plenty of people who don’t look like they know what they’re doing either.