Does this car come standard with panic attacks?

OCD, CF and buying a used car don’t mix. However, after over two months of shopping for a used wagon, my search is over. Drum roll, please.

And the winning wagon is . . . the Volvo V70 R in Electric Silver.

It's mine, all mine. A new used car.

Yes, I am done spending my nights looking for cars on Craigslist, Autotrader and Thank god it’s over for now. No more going to car dealerships and dealing with salespeople who don’t say anything at all, don’t know the product they sell, or lament about the life they used to live before selling cars. No more sitting in wagons ruined by smokers, making me wonder if they destroyed the lungs of their children at the same time.

Cool thing about the Volvo I bought: No smoky smell and no ashtray (nice touch, Volvo).

I had the Volvo inspected by a third-party to make sure it was mechanically sound and the accident was minor, as claimed by the dealership and previous owner. Everything checked out with flying colors. The Volvo mechanics said it was one of the cleanest used Volvos they’d seen.

I didn’t get a great deal. I was tired of looking and the R is a rare version of the V70 with only 27 of them listed for sale in the USA. But it was the wagon I wanted and a standard V70 wouldn’t cut it after driving the V70 R.

Here’s the fun part: 300 horsepower, 295 lb-ft of torque and zero to 60 in 6 to 6.5 seconds depending on the information source. Yep, this wagon goes fast, especially when the high-performance turbo kicks in. The suspension is stiff and has three modes: comfort, teeth shattering, kidney bruising.

When I got it home the other night I had a mild panic attack worrying about whether or not I had bought a reliable car for my wife and daughter, if I should have negotiated a better deal, and over the money I’d spent – my wife and I don’t like to spend money (thanks, CF).

I didn’t sleep well and woke up to a major panic attack with my heart racing and missing beats. I thought I was going to have to go to the ER because I was worried I was having a heart attack. A full dose of xanax took awhile to kick in and save me from that hell, but I can’t get it out my head that maybe I did have a heart attack and now I’m damaging my heart. See how screwed up I am.

I’m feeling better about the purchase and really dig the wagon. Beats the 13-year-old SUV I’ve been driving. It’s nice to have working headlights that show the road ahead and AC that works – features I haven’t had for awhile. Ah, the little things in life.

Stay healthy.

Life Stew with Onions

If you read my previous post on the LA Times signing me up for free daily papers without my permission, then you’ll appreciate this nugget. Despite my recent 20-minute excursion into futility trying to cancel the paper, and the rep saying she would cancel it, the free paper continues to show up on my driveway each day. I can hear the rep laughing to the other reps when she got off the phone: “Screw him. It’s free. Cancel THIS, asshole customer who refuses our generosity. You’ll get our paper and enjoy it.”

I f**king hate the LA Times now. Each day I kick the paper as hard as I can to the trash can and curse their subscription department. It sits there with the other free papers until I throw them away en masse. I look forward to the demise of paper newspapers. Long live online news.


My wife and I were talking about craigslist and the buying binge I’m on now to the improve the house. If it were up to her, we’d still have the teal carpet the house came with when we purchased it. Thanks to my creative visual genius and my ability to look in magazines with room designs and duplicate them, poorly, I’ve upgraded our house. But do I get the credit I deserve? No, of course not. I’m an unappreciated furniture picker and room designer.

All of this type of talk drives my wife nuts, which is what living with me is like. So, I asked her if she’d like to go back in time to the night we met and change her plans, not show up at the disco, forever altering her life for the better. Based on the gleam in her eyes, she looked like she’d say “yes,” but I pulled the daughter card before she could answer. She wouldn’t want to change that part of her life. I am always saved by our daughter. Without her, my wife would have built a time machine by now.


The universe is conspiring against me when it comes to getting a used car. The Volvo dealer called me yesterday to tell me they had a pre-owned V70 R wagon, which is Volvo’s performance wagon with over 300 horsepower. A family rocket to the moon or grocery store, whichever one comes first. Nice, I’m interested, I said.

Today, I test drove it and it was wonderful. I was so happy. Finally, my two-month search over. I made an offer. Here we go, it’s negotiation time. But when the sales rep left to tell the manager, I looked at the CARFAX: “Accident/Damage reported.”

In the movie of my life, that’s me looking at the sky yelling “nooooooooooooooooooooooo” to the heavens. Oh, how you torment me, god of used cars, teasing me, making me believe I’d found the Holy Grail of Volvo wagons. Tell me this isn’t happening.

It was too good to be true. I was so close.

Now I have to decide if I want to pick up the wagon tomorrow and bring it to a third-party for an inspection to see if the impact repair was extensive or not. Or, I can give up on it. It’s a rare wagon, so it’s not an easy decision. Decision? No, not one of those again. I hate them. Argh.

Anyone want to start a pool on when I’ll buy a used car? 2012 is a good bet.

Stay healthy.

Used Cars and Oxy-“Morons”

I’ve been searching for the perfect used car now for over a month. I’ve been looking for a wagon – Volvo, BMW, Audi, or Mercedes. Just a simple used wagon. But there is one other problem. I’m frugal. So, I find wagons and they’re out of my price range or I can’t negotiate the price I want. Or they’re too old. Or, and this is the most common killer of me finding my dream car, they smell like smoke or the chemical used to cover up the smell of smoke. That’s right. I’ve come close to buying several wagons, most of them BMWs, and guess what’s stopped me in my tracks – smokers. There’s a twist of fate there when people ravaging their lungs with cigarettes prevent me from getting a car. Every decision in my life is connected to breathing or someone else’s breathing, or so it seems.

My wife found this wagon for me, which tells you a little bit about her rubbing salt in the wound and the neighborhood we live in.

I also have the pressure of making sure I buy a car that is safe and reliable because should something happen to me the car I choose will be driven by my wife with my daughter riding in the backseat. They’ll also be driving and riding in it now, too, so it needs to be road worthy, unlike the 13 year-old Ford I’m driving. I don’t like them in the Ford and thus the reason for a new used car. This situation creates a mental hell for me when I find something older and inexpensive, which is easy on the bank account, versus something newer and more expensive. Can I take the chance on the older car? Then, I’m conflicted with the following logic: “well, I’m going to die soon anyway, so I might as well get a nice car and spend the money.” Argh, double argh.

During the last month, I’ve dragged my daughter to dealerships all over Los Angeles. We’ve had some fun, like finding an IHOP near a dealer in Santa Monica and having pancakes for lunch, which she loved; and discovering a cool outdoor shopping area in Glendale with a store full of robots. My wife gave us a strange look when she asked us what we did that day and we replied: “we had a robot fight.”

I wish the past month had been all fun and games. I’ve had some of the typical negative car-buying experiences, but I’ve had good ones, too, with very nice, honest sales people. I have plenty of stories, but here’s the one that best typifies the conundrum of my used-car buying experience – so far.

I called a woman selling a 2002 Volvo wagon. When I asked her for the VIN so I could run a CARFAX report, she told me I’d see a few minor fender-benders listed. However, because she worked for an insurance company, she was able to get the damage fixed and, as a bonus, had manipulated the insurance report to include getting minor dings and nicks repaired. She was proud of her cleverness, though some might consider getting your employer to cover repairs not normally covered to be a gray area of honesty. This became more confusing when I told her I was looking for a car free of damage and she replied with “at least you know I’ve been honest with you.” Yes, I thought. Yes, you have. But why do I feel one or us needs a shower right now?

And the search goes on. And on. And on.