"New Ride "

I know I haven't been writing much; haven't been keeping in touch. It'seasy to get wrapped up in priorities. Easy to fall into a hole of responsibilities and other things less than fun. I hope to change that. I have been using this Memorial Day weekend to catch up on lots of the ideas

and experiences that have bouncing around in my skull, annoying me like a

I turned off the Thinkpad, plugged in the Powerbook, and turned some thoughts digital. I will be sending a series of updates over the next few weeks. Please forgive the spam. (I really gotta finish that web site)

I got a new ride last month. I returned my beloved red Eclipse for a Mustang GT convertible. 5 Speed. Triple white. White paint, white top, white leather. Pretty bad color choice for a rock climber, but it looked awfully nice sitting out in the sun.

It's a fun car. I leased it. I had saved enough money to buy, but honestly, a drop-top Ford isn't a ride that's going to weather the years very well - especially one with a white top. I figure three years is enough time. When the sun is out, usually late afternoon, and the top is down, it's a joy to drive.

But there are some distinct downsides. The car rattles like a baby toy in blender. Dash, top, windows. Not a lot of structural integrity in this thing. And although I have 260 very ambitious ponies up front and a 5-speed in my hand, I have to drive like my grandmother. Well, not like MY grandmother - she doesn't drive much since she died - but like somebody's.

Sorry for the Grandma joke. I'm probably going straight to hell for that.

Annnnyway, about three years ago, I had a really bad automotive year. I nearly killed myself during a thunderstorm when I hydroplaned across all five lanes of the I-10. Three days earlier, I had received my first traffic ticket in ten years. Six months later, I got a bogus ticket for allegedly running a red light. I was able to remove one point from my record with six hours of excruciating video traffic school. However, that still leaves me,

a non-homeowner and a single, 29-year-old male in Southern California with one new convertible Mustang and two points on his driver record. It subsequently leaves me with a $260 a month insurance bill.

Yes, that's per month. Yes, I know what *YOU* pay for your '92 four-door Civic. Yes, I know that is more than your car payment. Yes, I know you pay less to insure your brand new NSX.

Don't rub it in.

And no, I don't like the car THAT much.

I really hate writing that check. It's the only bill I have that really just pisses me off. Insurance...bleah. I'd rather lick a doorknob.

Regardless, I didn't know about the insurance bill when I leased the car. During the negotiation the dealer offered to call my insurance carrier to find out how much my premium would jump. Twenty minutes later he returned with a quote of roughly $210 per month. This still sounds like a lot, but I was paying over $180 already.

So I signed the papers and leased the car. Said goodbye to the Mitsubishi. A day later my agent told me the correct price. It seems the dealer failed to tell her the car was a convertible. And my dealer failed to tell me the Mustang Convertible GT is one of the most expensive cars to insure in America.

Needless to say, I was a little ticked at Tuttle-Click Ford.

I wanted to return the car - right through Jim Click's plate glass window.

However, the manager there saw things my way. I called him and told him my story. Told him I was misled, and I expected compensation. He refunded me the difference in the proposed and actual insurance for the first year. Since both points drop off my record in 2002, I didn't push for more.

Valuable lesson in due diligence.

So I'm tooling around SoCal like Puff Daddy (sans J-Lo) in an all white Mustang. My friends have been calling me Mr. Clean. I'd like to think it's just the car. But it's probably my shaved head.


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