Social Distancing at the Car Lot is a Lie

No matter what radio station you turn to (if you still listen to the radio), you can hear a commercial about MPC (minimum personal contact) and how they are taking social distancing and sanitizing very seriously while you shop for your new car during this pandemic.

I tested that theory today. Flea Market Guy and I are in the market for another car. I haven’t had one in months. When his brother came to live with us, so did his car. And even after the brother left, the car was still here. We are giving the car back this weekend and we’ve decided that maybe it is easier being in a two car home. I don’t necessarily NEED to go anywhere until after FMG gets home, but if I leave after he gets home then that cuts down on our quality time together. And we love our time together. Plus I can Instacart when there is work to be had and I like making extra cash. So, FMG decided we need to get another car.

Shopping in general stresses me out. I like my jeans already broken in. I like my shoes on sale and comfortable. And I’ve never actually been car shopping at a real car lot. I’ve gone to some buy here pay here lots. Maybe once I bought a car from one when I was 20, but for the most part, my cars have either been given to me (I’m lucky that way) or I’ve just bought them outright for very little money and they were pretty much piece of shit beater cars.

As we’ve started the process of looking for cars, we’ve narrowed it down to the kind of car I might like. I’m a Honda girl. I love Hondas. I’ve had a few and they’ve never steered me wrong. My last one was an old Civic so I’m drawn to the newer Civic. I’ve looked at some accords because FMG thinks I need to “upgrade” although I don’t really know if an Accord is an upgrade. I like race cars. And that Civic sport might just be what the doctor ordered. I’ve also been looking at the Subaru Crosstrek. It, however, is a little more expensive than I’d want. I know whatever we get, we will have for the next five to ten or maybe even twenty years, who knows. But the idea of car shopping was stressing me out.

Not as much as the actual act of car shopping. I went to 4, maybe 5 car dealerships today. The first one was a Honda dealership in Knoxville. I got there around 8:30 am. They didn’t open until 9 so I had time to wander around before the car salesman came to sell me something. As he was tucking his shirt in and belching his Bojangles breakfast, he came within three feet of me to tell me about the car I was looking at. All the bells and whistles and extras and one owner and blah blah blah. He asked if I wanted to test drive it. I told him I did and went to get my mask. He did not wear a mask. Which, if I remember correctly, puts me into a 70% risk of infection if he has it. And him at about a 5% risk of infection if I have it. He wasn’t worried about the virus. But between you and me, he should have been. If we took his age, his smoking status, his red-cheeked likely drinking status and his Bojangles dietary habits into consideration, he is way less likely to recover as quickly as I think I may if I were to get it. Yes, I’m being judgy, but I just thought he should care more about both of our well being despite his desire to sell a car.

I thought it was just a fluke that he was so aloof about the situation. I drove the car. He gave me a business card. I told him we’d be back when FMG was with me and then we’d make a decision. I left there and drove to a car lot that is about 30 minutes from the house. They advertise low down payment, low monthly payments and TONS OF CARS IN STOCK!!! They specialized in Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge cars and trucks, but they said they had tons of used cars. The drive out there determined that was a lie! They had some. Nothing reasonable. Nothing with less than 50k miles. And absolutely nothing with a sunroof. Who knew it would be so hard to find a car with a sunroof. You’d think I was asking for a stick shift (which is also nearly impossible to find). Second car salesman, same thing. Three feet close. No mask. No worries about the virus. He literally said, “I’m not worried about it.”

But I am… and he didn’t really care.

Moving on, I went to a third dealer, where the over sixty and obese salesman proceeded to show me a 2016 Lexus that was super nice. He, too, came within 3 feet of me and when he offered me a test drive, he also wasn’t “worried one bit” about catching COVID-19 from me. He also wasn’t worried about whether I even had a driver’s license. When I asked him if he needed to make a copy of it like the last place he said, “nah, I ain’t worried about that.” Gotta love country salesman.

I put on my mask. He didn’t have one on. He’s in a small town. I’m from “in town” aka “the city.” And while we only have 200 cases here, it’s 200 cases that I could have come in contact with before I drove to the country to test drive cars with “unworried” salesmen. I really wanted to shake some sense into him.

After leaving him, I went to another car lot with a car salesman who also had no idea about personal space or social distancing. He also had no clue about the cars on the lot. So that was short lived.

I finally ended up at a Honda dealer, still in the country, where the last salesman actually shook my hand. I keep hand sanitizer on my hip so I shook and sanitized. He shook my hand and then opened the door, went to his computer, typed in some info, grabbed the car keys, took a copy of my ID, handed it back (I sanitized again), he opened the door again, got in the passenger side of an Accord, rode with me (with no mask), got out, opened the door, wrote some things down, shook my hand, probably touched his face a time or two in the midst of all that, all while being “not worried” about any of it.

I was stressed to the max. I know that if I get sick, I will likely live. I will be miserable, but I don’t think I will die. Statistically speaking, if I am carrying COVID-19 right now, at least three of the five people I came in contact with today are probably goners if they get sick (including the last “not worried at all” guy).

I wanted to cancel the car search. But my friend Tee reminded me about Carvana and Vroom, so now we are going to explore those avenues from the comfort of our home, no mask (or stress) required.

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