“Typical American Woman”

Last Saturday, we went to test drive the Volkswagen Routan. Our salesperson was a disgruntled, heavily accented Scotsman who tried some interesting tactics to sell us the last Routan they had on the lot, a nearly turquoise monstrosity with a hideous interior the color of margarine. (As a bit of background, the one major qualification I have as I succumb to the stigma of driving a minivan is that said minivan must be bad-ass black.) 

Now, the unfortunately-colored Routan was solid and pleasant to drive, but I would have been moved to revulsion by the colors every time I stepped onto my driveway. That, and it didn’t come equipped with a remote starter or XM radio, two of the very minor luxuries that are worth it to me.

The remote starter is a no-brainer for Michigan winters with (or without) an infant, and the XM radio is just plain awesome, especially because my commute is so beautifully short it is easily destroyed by FM radio’s yammering morning DJs and lengthy commercials. With XM radio, I am assured that before I get to the office I will be able to hear a great song or two in whatever genre the day demands.

Our Scottish friend, however, was determined. He dismissed both the remote starter and the XM radio as “stupid.” His argument went something like this: “As far as I’m concerned ya don’t need em. Ya know, just walk outside and start yer car for Chrissake. And the satellite rahdio, come on. Nothin wrong with the regular rahdio. Ya just wanna pay fer yer rahdio, thinkin it’s better. It’s exactly the same as FM; yer just payin fer it. Bloody Americans want to pay fer everything.”

For a car salesman, he certainly wasn’t trying to rack up the add-ons. So we began to talk color. I told him if I was going to buy a Routan I was only going to buy a black one. He asked me for my second choice color; I told him I didn’t have one. He muttered something to the effect of “typical woman,” by which I think he meant “spoiled rotten.”

It made me laugh out loud for the sheer ludicrousness of the statement — as if I were being ungrateful to him for the privilege of taking this monstrosity off his hands on the last day of the month. When we’re talking about me paying upwards of $400 a month for something — anything — I think I should get to pick the color without being degraded. I told him I wouldn’t take the turquoise Routan for $50 a month. He seemed appalled.

Only because I truly did like the Routan did I allow him to search the inventories of other Michigan VW dealers for a black one. And there was exactly that — one black Routan in the entire state. And it was loaded with drop-down DVD players, which I most certainly don’t want for the sheer annoyance of having to mediate the viewing demands of a carload of kids every time we go to the supermarket.

So, it comes down to the fact that if I want a black Routan, I’m going to have to either order one or have one imported from a neighboring state. Our cranky Scot told me I’d have to wait a week to get this process started, as he was going in for surgery and would be unavailable. My suspicious mind thought this may be yet another tactic to push us into buying the white elephant on the lot, but I am too concerned about gathering bad karma to suggest that this was actually the case.

In any event, we have yet to test drive the Toyota Sienna or the Chrysler Town and Country, so we told him we were in no hurry, wished him good luck with his operation, and carried on with our Saturday.

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