On Saturday I began car shopping.
Fuel efficiency is my main criterion. I’m intrigued by the Toyota Prius — I’ve driven one and liked it — but the car I’m really after is the new Honda Fit. I have some lingering doubts about the Prius’s hybrid drive — just how long do those batteries last, anyway, and what is their true environmental impact? — whereas the Fit’s gas mileage is almost as good, its price is right, and it doesn’t have a distracting video display in the center of the dashboard. Only the name is a little off-putting. (I like its European name better: “Jazz.”) Yes, it’s tiny. No, I don’t have a problem with that. So I ordered the Consumer Reports price report and started calling Honda dealers to find one where I could test-drive a Fit.
Marin Honda didn’t have any. Neither did Honda of El Cerrito. Nor did the San Francisco, Berkeley, or Oakland Honda dealers. I called Walnut Creek Honda — no luck. I called Concord Honda — no. San Leandro, Burlingame, Hayward, Redwood City — no, no, no, no. At Vacaville Honda (42.7 miles distant) they thought they might have one or two on the lot and promised to check and call me back in five minutes. Mmmmmmmmmmno. I began to feel like I was living in the Cheese Shop sketch.
Glickstein: You do have some Hondas, don’t you?
Element: Certainly sir! This is a Honda shop, sir. We’ve got–
Glickstein: No, no, don’t tell me. I’m keen to guess.
Element: Fair enough.
Glickstein: Ah! Well I’ll buy one of those then.
Element: Oh, I thought you were talking to me, sir. Mr. Element, that’s my name.
It took a not-inconsiderable effort of will to psych myself into buying a car this weekend, but psych myself I did, and for a couple of hours on the phone Saturday morning I persisted in spite of the best efforts of Bay Area Honda salespeople uncharacteristically to prevent me giving them my money. But they finally wore me down, with the result that I authorized the $700 repair of my $767 car. I am “Fit” to be tied.