Saturday, March 17, 2007

Cats and boxes

My sister's car broke down and had to be scrapped on Thursday. Luckily I was thinking of getting a new car myself, so I've said she can have mine. Buying a car is one of the most stressful things I can think of doing. This is my 7th car, so I guess I've done it enough times to know what I'm doing. I've got over my fear of Men Who Know About Cars (salesmen and mechanics) and I can even take a test drive without worrying that my driving is being judged. But I hate the bit at the end, when you have to try and bargain down the price. I don't like haggling - it feels like so uncivilised and greedy. I'd rather just pay the asking price. But there's the whole masculinity thing about haggling, and I end up sitting there stony-faced in the waiting area of some salesroom as some car salesman says "We can't take anything off it, but we can throw in a couple of mats." Mats? Who cares about mats when you're giving them £10,000. So I turned down a Honda Jazz and marched me and my fella defiantly out of the salesroom. I didn't like the car anyway, it smelt of dog and cheap fabric softener. I ended up driving to Cheltenham and getting a Mercedes A Class which didn't smell of anything. It was £1000 cheaper. When I got home, the Honda Jazz salesman had left a message on my phone saying "I think we can arrange something, give me a ring." Maybe he wanted to throw in one of those air fresheners shaped like a tree or something. I feel I've maintained my masculinity, and at 34, finally feel like I'm a man.


I've started reading Richard Dawkin's first book - the Selfish Gene. I had no idea that Mr Dawkin provokes such startling reactions from people. But I guess if you are religious, what he's saying must be quite irritating. I like the idea of genes though. They make sense to me and they're helping me to make sense of the world. For example, my ginger tom cat likes to hide. If we buy something that comes in a box, he always climbs in it and peeks out. We spent ages this morning looking for him, it turned out he was hiding under the clothes-horse which was like a tent, with all the bedsheets hanging off it. He loves to be tickled and stroked as well. I'm betting that both his hiding and love of being tickled are in his genes. Cats who hid probably survived from being killed by bigger animals. And those who were sociable to humans probably got looked after and fed. He's the product of his genes. And I'm the product of mine. I'm even wondering if the fact I am crap at getting off to sleep is a gene thing. I suspect that I am descended from ancestors who weren't much cop at hunting animals or fighting off other tribes. So instead, they acted as the nightwatch, staying awake, guarding their tribe throughout the night and making a lot of noise if there looked like there was going to be an invasion. It probably explains why I worry so much about stuff - my genes make me constantly vigilant, always looking out for the worst and planning for disaster so it can be avoided. I guess that 100,000 years ago, that was probably quite a good set of genes to have if you weren't big and tough. But these days, well, you just come across as a bit neurotic. Maybe I should get into that box with my cat.


Fin De Fichier said...

Funny! I'm about to make a major purchase and I'm going through these very issues. I've never had the cajones to really bargain about a car, my attempts were pretty half-assed. Mind you I've always bought used ones so there is probably less room to negotiate. I do remember with the first one, proposing a lower price - he used it as an excuse to go watch 5 minutes of a football game, under the auspices of checking with the manager. Now I'm getting something that's more of a want vs. a need, and I hope I will triumphantly walk away if need be, as you did, if "the price isn't right"
Fun piece on animal intelligence from a few years ago.

archived IHT article

matty said...

I hate owning a car. Which is why I've always tried to limit where I live to places with great public transit. However, I do love to negotiate prices!

Don't get in that cat box! No matter what you do! Stay out of there, mister!