Fighting Fire with Fire: Fire is Expensive

Last year, the hubby bought a new vehicle. He picked it out all by himself.

We agreed beforehand I’d have nothing to do with the purchase. No input. No opinion. No comment.

See, we have very different “consumer” styles. These styles result in him thinking I’m cheap and me thinking he’s stupid. Consequently, making a large joint purchase can create tension in the marriage.

For example, when selecting a car, the hubby looks for horsepower, torque, 4-wheel drive capability, overall number of dashboard gadgets and general shininess. He considers things like “Could we pull heavy machinery, haul stuff or navigate through floodwaters?” More importantly, “If an arctic blizzard strikes, could we drive to Wal-Mart and buy snowshoes?”

I, on the other hand, am a “girlie” buyer (so he says). I check out consumer reviews. I talk to people who actually own whatever car we’re considering. And I need to know the overall cost in terms of insurance, maintenance and fuel. As for those other things, uh, we live in Tennessee – in suburbs. We don’t own heavy machinery. The local Wal-Mart doesn’t stock snowshoes… and why would a guy who considers the golf course rugged terrain need a vehicle that can climb rocks in the Mojave?

He doesn’t even know where the Mojave is located. In Africa somewhere, he thinks.

Don’t get me wrong. I am willing to keep an open mind and consider his input. I do, however, reserve the right to dismiss whatever input I consider to be testosterone-inspired blather – which is, you know, most of it – and then do whatever I want anyway. Consequently, the last four new vehicles we’ve owned were a Nissan Sentra, a Honda Civic and two Hyundai Santa Fe’s. All were small, reliable, fairly fuel-efficient and picked by me.

Look, he’s a binge buyer. I’m not. I had good reason to steamroll him, and for awhile this was a win-win situation. We saved money, and he had something to complain about for ten years straight. (Complaining is a hobby of his.) The cars were too small, not enough leg room, not enough power, couldn’t pull a steep ant-hill. They were cheap, girlie, what if a blizzard came, I’d rue the day! Blah. Blah. Blah.

Things have changed since then. Over time, I’ve gotten less tolerant of my spouse’s tendency to complain. After ten years of marriage, the complaints are less likely to go in one ear and out the other and more likely to grate on my nerves, thereby causing unpleasant side-effects, which may include headaches, nausea, and increased occurrences in thoughts of or fantasies about poking him in the eye with a cereal spoon during breakfast.

If sending him off to buy a “manly” vehicle would make him shut-up, yeah, I was all for it. Why not?! I’d just paid off the Santa Fe: it was two years old with 10-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. What did I care?

So, the hubby bought a Toyota FJ Cruiser.

I am not sure what FJ means. I suspect “fuel-sucking jalopy,” and they shortened it to FJ, so as to make the vehicle marketable to men, who will gladly buy fuel-sucking jalopies as long as you don’t mention this outright and play-up the other options… such as, “Hey, if you go find a mountain and drive up the side of it for no apparent reason whatsoever, this inclinometer gauge on the dash will show you when you’re about to flip over! Yeah Man! Woo-Hoo! Give Me Five!”

According to the manufacturers website, the Cruiser gets about 16/20 mpg. The website had previously listed 18/22 mpg, but I assume someone noticed the Toyota Online people are compulsive liars and forced them to change it. I still think they’re exaggerating.

This is the FJ at the left. (I less-than-fondly refer it as “Daddy’s tank” or when the children aren’t around “Big Ol’ piece of sh*t.)

The big ol’ POS has more blind spots than Stevie Wonder BUT comes equipped with state of the art bells, whistles and dummy beepers.

It has a seatbelt beeper, an airbag beeper, (both weight activated on the passenger’s side) a door beeper, a gas beeper, a back-up beeper… Honestly, if you don’t know these things without a beeper, you shouldn’t be driving.

For those, who do not need noise to help us determine things like, “oh, the door is open,” “Wow, the gas hand is nearing empty” or “whoa, there’s something behind me. I should stop going in reverse” — it is annoying. After a good six months or so, you find yourself having rude conversations with the lil’ red flashing seatbelt guy, such as, “SHUT UP ALREADY YOU SOB! There’s no one in the seat! It’s a purse! It’s a purse, I tell you!”

At that point, you realize the vehicle has gradually driven you insane because what kind of sane person verbally attacks an electronic sensor?

Furthermore, the interior seats of the big ol’ POS are made of some weird lint-attracting fabric and the floor is a molded rubber-type material, which has a nightmare of nooks and crannies wherein Happy Meal droppings hide. Cleaning the interior requires time, elbow grease, and a crevice tool attachment, which I can never find because Ms. Diva habitually yanks it off the Dirt Devil to use as her magic wand.

It’s just easier not to eat in the car.

Fury will reign down upon all those who dare to possess a french fry!
There will be severe punishment for anyone caught with a free sucker from the bank.

(It’s possible I’ve gotten a tad “Type A” about the No Eating in the Car thing.)

The rear storage capacity is decent – but the rear door with the spare tire is heavy enough to crush medium-sized children or mommies who get slammed in the door by their medium-sized children. The people storage capacity is less impressive as there’s no leg room in the back and it’s hard to get in and out. And while the POS is a four-door (which made the hubby quite proud because he “thought of the children,”) the rear doors are of the extended-cab pickup rear-opening variety. This means the kids can’t open or close their own doors. I must exit the car and open/close the doors for them, which makes me feel all the more like a non-paid chauffeur.

Oh, and you may as well forget about parking in tight spaces. Though you do have the benefit of barreling over the sidewalks, large ditches and parking barriers to create a parking spaces anywhere you want, the local law enforcement tends to frown on the practice.

And did you see those racks on the top? They are great for hauling kayaks, but we don’t kayak. So really the only thing that has been up there is bird poop.

Right about now, I’m sure you’re thinking: “Hey, Wait a minute! That was supposed to be the hubby’s car! Why is she driving it!?”

Well, after driving the POS for approximately two weeks, the hubby discovered – Eureka! gas is expensive! He suggested that we swap during the week because the Santa Fe was “fuel efficient” and I didn’t travel as much as he did. Overall, this would save money.

I like saving money. So, I agreed.

Two weeks later, the hubby traded the Santa Fe for a Toyota Matrix with a manual transmission and a whole `nother car payment. (Did you know if two owners are listed on a car title and joined by an “OR” instead of an “AND” – only one signature is required for sell or trade?) He drove this home and reaffirmed my belief that his mother allowed him to play in the landfill or lick dumpsters as a child, exposing him to large amounts of toxins which damaged his brain function – because he yelled, “Surprise! 38 MPG!

Uh yeah.

Surprise! Prolonged period of the hubby sleeping on the couch! For a good two weeks thereater I pondered upon Ol’ Flames from college… wondering if any of them grew-up to become divorce attorneys or professional hit men. After deciding they were all probably still drunk enough to believe Kurt Cobain was a philosopher, I moved past my hostility and started pushing aggressively for a trade.

I needed something easier on gas.

The hubby agreed.

Then, he procrastinated. Next, he postponed. He wavered and waxed poetic about the compass and thermometer right there in the dash… and volume control on the steering wheel… and the inclinometer, the wonderful inclinometer.

Finally, he changed his mind.

To make matters worse, some family members, whom I’ve since disowned, say I’m being unfair. Since the hubby went along with my purchases in the past, it’s his turn to pick, they say. Doesn’t it count for something that I’m obviously smarter? Shouldn’t we take into consideration the possibility that his mother spoon-fed him fluoride or allowed him to play with lead paint chips? Of course, I realize he loves the FJ Cruiser… but he can afford to love it. He doesn’t buy the gas for it.

I mean if its his turn to pick: it’s also his turn to pay because in case you people hadn’t noticed – gasoline is $4 a gallon. We’re talking real money here: $300+ a month of my money: and this is after eliminating unnecessary trips.

This isn’t like being cool with the hubby buying a lawnmower because he wanted one with a radio, a new freezer because he didn’t like the way the old one looked… or purchasing the nail gun and lumber to construct 1/2 a treehouse in the backyard and then lose interest in the project.

(What? Ya’ll thought I was joking about the treehouse? Uh. no. )

See, gasoline is a recurring and somewhat necessary expense, which will increase as time goes on.

The big ol’ POS has simply got to go.

So, after racking my brain for ideas about how I could convince the hubby to trade, I decided I’d let him buy the gas. Once he felt the squeeze in his wallet, he might see things my way.

Unfortunately, putting gas in my car is a lot like washing dishes and putting away the laundry, he’d never do it willingly.

So, my plan involved sneaking out of the house in the dead of night, dressed entirely in black to steal gas out of his car while I hummed the Mission Impossible theme song. Unfortunately, a mother raccoon and her five little babies camp out on the carport each night.

Mother either has an aversion to the Mission Impossible Theme song or doesn’t like people getting too close to her babies, whom are too little to understand they need to run from giant humans with brooms. She hissed at me. I hissed back. At some point during all of this hissing, I decided this would be much easier if I just used the hubby’s gas card.

(Did you know if the card has only one owner, a non-owner having the PIN number can use the owner’s active card?)

I’ve used it for two 1/2 weeks now. I gave him the bill Monday. It was nearly $200.

Then, I excused myself and went to the zoo.

This gave him time to fume and wrap his mind around the fact (a) gas gets more expensive when it’s coming out of your pocket AND (b) just because one spouse is “legally” entitled to make transactions without the other spouse’s consent or knowledge doesn’t necessarily mean they should.

So, blogging will be light this week. We’re car shopping.


2 thoughts on “Fighting Fire with Fire: Fire is Expensive

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