Luxury Problems


Jane has final exams today. She was supposed to take two tests in the morning and leave school just at lunchtime. The kids could stay for lunch and study time if they wanted but few choose to do so. Jane wanted sushi for lunch and since SugarFish is just around the corner from school she really wanted to be there.

After dropping kids off at school I stopped home just long enough to make some beds and check in on Airtime. Day two is different than day one. I spoke to three start up guys, one waitress, a retiree in the deep south, a woman at an ad agency and a poultry farmer in Pakistan.

I played a little tennis with Christina in the late morning. It’s the first time we’d played together and we’re a great fit. Lots of deuces and when we got to 6-6 we just quit. Neither of us has a killer instinct although she hits like a man (and I say that with reverence).

Since I had to pick Jane up at 12.45 there wasn’t much for me to do at noon except kill time. I popped over to my PO Box and threw out all the junk mail. That’s always good for 10 minutes. I wound around town, got Jane, took her to SugarFish and nodded in all the right places while she talked and talked and then talked some more. She’s the most excitable child I’ve known and the world delights her. Halibut fin sashimi also delights her. She’s an expensive child.

After our lunch Jane went back to school to take one of the exams she’d missed when she was ill. I wondered what it would be like to send the kids to a school where I could arbitrarily pick them up and take them out to lunch. I suppose I could now….

Again after dropping Jane back to school at nearly two I needed to be back to school by three to fetch Alexander and then I’d have to wait with him until Jane was done with her third exam. I dropped her off and ran to the mall and picked up some facewash for myself. It was going to be a $20 trip to Sephora but then I thought of how hard Jane worked for her grades and grabbed her a lip stain (which she LOVES and I have to live through her because lipstain on anyone over 25 is just red seeping into wrinkles). When I was checking out a new mascara caught my eye and then of course my favorite products were available in travel size for just 500 points.

Who has 500 points at Sephora? Ugh… women with limited self control. In other words, I do.

I grabbed Alexander a snack at the mall, one of those gross bags of pretzels. He’s always ravenous and I like to pick him up with food. Of course when I arrived at 3 I’d expected that Alexander and I would hang out and wait for Jane to finish her exam. I was wrong, Jane finished a few minutes early and Alexander refused to leave school. He wanted to stay and play Pokemon with his friends. I let him. If you’re going to make four trips to school in one day what’s the difference with a fifth?

His teacher noted that I always have food with me. I explained to her that I’m a Jewish Mother. It’s what we do. She giggled and said something about Italian Mothers… we might be one and the same.

Jane and I rode home together. She talked a mile a minute about the 243 question English exam and how she knows her teacher likes her because he used her name in a question (to break up the monotony). I showed her the benetint and she squealed. It was an actual squeal, I’m always surprised that she’s my child. I’m pretty sure I never squealed though I do recall spinning a lot at her age.

I came home and the Jaguar dealer called. The car is wonderful in that it’s fast and it’s beautiful. Unfortunately it does some quirky things. You can’t put gasoline in it. I mean you can put some gas in the car, you just can’t fill up the tank. When it’s about halfway full the nozzle just clicks that it’s done. This happens at every filling station at every angle so long at the tank is below about a quarter of the way full.

I brought in the car with the tank about halfway full. I explained to them that some of the gas would need to come out of the tank. Since this is the dealership that put a mechanic in the trunk of the car I figured they’d be able to siphon some gas out pretty easily. I got a loaner car. It’s a nice but stripped down Jag that smells of old man cologne. I can’t fault them for the bad taste of their clientele.

The lady who calls with bad news called me 24 hours after I’d dropped the car off to ask permission to put gas in the car and add it to my bill. I was nice when I said yes. I didn’t mention anything about the fact that it had taken them a full day before getting to my problem and that my hands smelled like Drakkar.

Today’s phone call was triumphant. The Jaguar lady told me that they’d filled the car up with gas so they’d be able to return it, no problem. I reminded her that the tank was rather full when I dropped it off and her solution was to send the store manager home with our car so he could run it out of gas and try again.

Which is when I yelled at her. A lot. And I might have cussed.

Now I’m back to googling for BMWs because as much as our BMWs were uninteresting, dull even, they ran and they seldom needed service. The bluetooth worked on the BMW for more than just the first 200 contacts in an address book. The park assist didn’t last for thirty minutes and ding at you like you’re an old man in need of dinging.

The problem with BMW is that even the valet knows they’re ordinary.

Lease Returns


I sold cars. I know how this works, and I know when things are right or wrong.

As a consumer it is NOT my problem when you have made the terrible decision to remain understaffed. (more…)

Car Shopping


I need two new cars this springtime. Car shopping here is always a big deal. We have high standards, and our high standards do not necessarily overlap.

My husband demands performance from his cars. He wants his car to be fast, to handle well and to be safe. He’s on his second 5 series BMW, oh gosh, or maybe it’s his third.

About three years ago my name came up on “the list” and I had a 10am Monday appointment to pick up my spiffy new Prius. I was very excited to get my new car, until 8.10 am when my telephone rang.

“Honey, I need you to come get me. I’ve been in a car accident and I think my car is totaled.” It was my husband, and he did not sound okay.

Although he wasn’t hurt, he was visibly shaken. My husband had pulled into the intersection on a green to turn left and a woman had blown through a red light without even slowing down. Her Honda Civic hit our BMW 5 series sedan at more than 40 miles per an hour. The impact was mostly on our front left wheel, and the car did not look totaled to me, the outside observer. In fact, I thought my husband was being overly dramatic, until I saw her car. All the airbags had deployed, the rear floor mats were on the dashboard and the car was an absolute accordion. There was no doubt this was a big impact.

My husband was shaken, but didn’t have so much as a stiff neck.

I never did get the Prius. We went out and got two BMW’s because we feel so safe in them. They’re heavy cars ,and they are consistently well designed. Our neighbor is a firefighter, and just after the accident he told us, “I’ve never cut a dead body out of a Mercedes or a BMW.” Quite an endorsement, no? I know, it makes me shiver too.

After a month the car was written off as a total loss, and let me tell you why I’ve been so loyal to BMW and to GEICO. We got a check for $7,500 when all was said and done. Yes, we got a check. With other car companies you buy gap insurance, GEICO gave us money for a no injury accident because the car was valued at more than what remained on the lease. It’s the only time I’ve had a meaningful claim, and the level of service we got was amazing. I don’t’ shop my car insurance, and I’d really recommend you give GEICO a try too.

Now, back to the cars. We want good safe cars. We want airbags and support beams, but we also want speed and luxury.

Oh, and I demand good service. I don’t want to be called “honey” or “sweetheart” those days are over. I’m too old and too cranky to be treated poorly. I also won’t buy a car from anyone who thinks I should ask my husband. It’s a joint checking account.

Here’s what I’ve driven so far, and a few notes about what the car combo would be.

Porsche Panamera: stunning in performance and design. It’s a rocketship, and though it’s basically a quiet ride, you can still feel the engine growl. The purists don’t love the design, I do. If you can swing it, the yachting trim is exceptional with wood inlay that reminds me of the Bentleys of my childhood. As a Mom car the Panamera both fails and succeeds, the engine shuts off when you’re stuck in traffic, so carpool would be great, unfortunately it only seats four, so this would be a great car for my husband.

Honda Accord V6: I drove this car yesterday. It stunned me. If my husband wants the Porsche (let’s be frank, I want him to want the Porsche) I’ll happily drive the Accord. It’s sturdy enough, not particularly fast, not particularly slow. The back seat and the trunk are huge and the price tag is tiny. I have to investigate the safety ratings, and ask them why they have a six CD changer instead of an iPod dock… but other than being slightly archaic with technology it’s a good car at a good price.

Audi: I drove the A5 sport convertible. It was fast and nice, but again, seats only 4, so we’re limited to this as a choice for my husband. The car seems feminine to me, and I’m not sure why. I drove the A6, it’s nice, but it didn’t blow me away. I feel like our 3 year old BMW is faster than the brand new Audi. Maybe it’s just the styling, I’m not sure, I will drive it again.

BMW: I’ve driven the 2010 328 and it’s fine, it’s got more room in the backseat than last year’s model. It’s a good option for me, if I end up in that price point. Again, we’re having Mr. G choose his car first. We both drove the 650 convertible, and neither of us loved it. It’s very fast, but it’s not Porsche fast and it’s the same price as Porsche. They have a back seat, but my 8 year old can’t fit in it. It’s a weird car, we’re passing on it. I’m waiting to drive the 5’s and the 7’s (please gawd no 7’s they’re for old people).

Volkswagen: I drove the Passat around the block. There was no need for more of a test drive. It was unimpressive in every possible way.

Infiniti: I drove the M35S. I shouldn’t have bothered, when I opened the car door it felt light. I never felt secure in the car. It’s fine, it’s just not for me.

If I had to make a decision tomorrow… I’d rent a car. I’ve got a dozen more cars to test drive, and we’ll narrow it down soon. I’m excited to try some longer test drives. Remember when I drove the Lexus? I’ll have a few reviews coming up like they, where they are more than a 10 minute test drive.

My worst fear is that we get our 4th and 5th BMW’s in a row in new shades of grey. So. Boring.

LA Auto Show


A super quick update.

I made it to the Los Angeles Auto show today and I was really happy to see so many old friends. Michelle and I were there for the unveiling of the new Porsche Boxster and the Ford Fiesta.

Mr. G and I are car shopping this year for two new cars. We’ve got a combined budget that is very large, and I’m okay with one fancy schmancy car and one modest one. The Boxster was at the top of my list for my husband, but the 2010 version just got knocked off the list. At $62,000 the Boxster is 173 pounds lighter than last year. Here’s why:

  • No inside door handles
  • No air conditioning
  • Manual convertible roof
  • No rear window visibility when the roof is up
  • No pushbutton ignition

It’s fast and light, I get that, from the outside it’s stunning with a very retro feel. Unfortunately it’s just a stripped down Porsche. I know the economy is bad, but if I want a discount Porsche I’d just buy a used 911. The Panamera is amazing, but it only seats 4, and I really need a car that seats 5.

So it’s a pass on the Boxster because I need amenities, like door handles.

I did like most of the Lincolns, the Chevy Volt, there’s a Honda I adore, and ooh to the Aston Martins. Check the Whrrl Story, the 2010 cars are beautiful and there are a lot of good choices.

The reality is that I’ll probably spend the next few months driving these cars and buy the same two BMW’s in different shades of gray. Pitiful really.

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