Thursday, August 21, 2008
Every cloud has a panty liner
Winnebago of Pants is superseded by Subaru of Pants with a haste that must be considered unprecedented in the present emotional micro-climate. It occurred in the flash of a gavel. I wasn’t expecting to be attending a car auction but it so happened that the Victorian Government decided to dispense with a number of its excellent vehicles at exactly the time I acquired a notion to buy one so I motivated myself into gear. The lethargy that has dogged my 2008 has disappeared with the flush of fortuitous opportunity, thanks to sane and knowledgeable friends. Who knew I could marshal such reliable resources? After my rejuvenating stay with Ms O’Dyne, I have recently been taken in by kindly Shirley and Roddy who have not only been wining and dining me to within an inch of rendering my jeans completely redundant, but have sorted out my dishevelled finances, not to mention the laundry bag that is my backpack. It was the redoubtable Roddy who sourced and conquered the auction process on my behalf. Even when completely in command I never would have had the patience to unravel the intricacies of this giant car bazaar myself.
On Tuesday we journeyed to the outskirts of Melbourne to kick tyres with dealers and like-minded bargain hunters. Mustering a presence of mind I feared may have deserted me for ever, I perused, surveyed and assessed nineteen potential Subaru Foresters, the car I had previously identified as the perfect travelling companion. My standard research method is indicative of my general displeasure with shopping. I usually wait until I find someone in similar circumstances to do all the hard work and then I buy exactly the same thing as they’ve got after asking them some basic questions like ‘is it any good?’ and ‘do you feel like opening a vein when you think of all the money you’ve just pissed away?’ In the course of my methodical search, I met three delighted Subaroosters and that was good enough for me. I have better things to do with my time than question the integrity of decent, hard-working people.
Of the nineteen potential pantmobiles, nine were eliminated because they had a few scratches or were a manky colour or looked at me the wrong way. I then used a highly scientific method involving snaps taken on the Kodak, notes scribbled on the catalogue and several glasses of Sauvignon Blanc to prioritise the remaining hopefuls into a hierarchy which serendipitously looked remarkably similar to the order in which they were to appear on the auction floor. Together Roddy and I developed a strategy so simple as to be virtually idiotic. I would bid on the first car, which happened to be the favourite and if I didn’t get that one, I would bid on the next and so on until I got one or the nice auction people ran out of cars.
My car was number 4 which meant I had only three opportunities to learn to interpret the strange language that auctioneers speak which sounds like a cross between high speed bingo and Bim Skala Bim. By the time my intended zoomed into view, it was already apparent that the people who were sitting all around us were not there to buy cars. Perhaps they just fancied the ambience and the sausage rolls. It was all insanely painless. A dealer made a listless opening bid. It ping-ponged a couple of times. I made the final bid. I thought it was all over and lept up waving my bidding card like a lottery winner who'd just evaded eviction. I looked at Roddy and couldn't understand why he wasn't punching the air like it had just mugged his mother. The auctioneer had passed the car in because it hadn't reached its reserve so I was led bewildered into a quiet corner. We haggled with the government agent until a satisfactory conclusion was reached. Suffice to say 'quids in' is something of an understatement.
This morning in the blinding rain, we headed across Melbourne for the third consecutive day to pick up the car. I’m not a nervous driver but I do have a bit of a problem with vertigo and there was an awfully high bridge to navigate. I’m pleased to report that no citizens of Melbourne were injured in the course of this delicate operation and we weaved between the grime-generating pantechnicons like spaghetti through bolognaise. Roddy has been telling me all week we need to go see someone called Vic Rhodes. I have no idea what that is all about but, hey, every day is a new adventure and he sounds nice. SUV’d up, I’m ready to hit the road again. The next quest – to establish a new Seat of Pants – could begin at any time...