Tuesday, April 7, 2009

You Learn Something New Everyday

I am very bad at understanding what people want. I hardly know what I want. I spend fifteen minutes everyday at the dining hall going, "Wait...do I want ice cream? No. But maybe. But it's cold out. Is ice cream better in the cold? I should find out. Yeah. I want some. Oooo, look! Brownies! Wait...do I want a brownie?" 

So I have an understandably hard time magically inferring what other people want. Most of my conversations go like this:

Guy Waiting in Line for Vending Machine: Do you have an extra quarter you're not using?
Sara: Yep. I also have two dimes and four pennies.
G: Great, thanks!
S: What for?
G: The extra quarter. 
S: You're thankful that I have one? 
G: Yes.
G: Um.
S: Do you--? OH! Oh, I see. I'm sorry.
G: Ha! That's okay. It's just one of those day--
S: You have OCD. You must compulsively find out what loose change everyone has. Well, sir, I have forty-nine cents.
G: I'm just going to go stand over there now.

I often don't realize my mistake until it's far too late to correct it. For instance, over the summer, my family bought a new car. This may sound very fancy and exciting, but it isn't. The last time we had needed a car was when gas prices started to go through the roof, and we needed something more economical. While we were purchasing a hybrid from a Honda dealership, a salesman cleverly noticed that my father was middle-aged, and was therefore due for a crisis. He offered my dad a "great deal, really great," on a second, sporty car if we bought it with the first. Without consulting the rest of us, he went ahead and bought a bright yellow S2000 convertible. 

This is the most out-of-character thing he's ever done. Considering this is the same man who refused to let us paint the walls any other color than white for the first eighteen years we lived in our house, and who was driving a white 1990 Volvo station wagon, and was purchasing a white Hybrid Civic because the gray was too "garish" and the other hybrids we looked at were too "flashy," we were just a tad shocked. He came back to himself soon enough, though. The convertible sat in our garage, with a car cover (yes, it was covered while in the garage), and we weren't allowed to walk past it. I'm not joking. If we were in another car that needed to be pulled up next to his car in the garage, all people who were not the driver needed to exit the car while it was still on the street and then walk into the house through the front door, not the garage door. We were not to touch it, remove the cover, or under any circumstances, emergencies included, dare to drive it.  This would make slightly more sense if he had very young children. But his kids were nineteen, seventeen, and sixteen.  

He drove the car a grand total of three times in the years he had it. During that time, we all became licensed drivers, and since his car was off-limits, it left his four family members sharing the Civic. Which did not work so well. So finally, over the summer, I convinced him the car was causing him more stress than it was worth, and he needed to turn it in and get something with a bit more room, and most importantly, something we could all drive. I accompanied him to the dealership to turn in his convertible. While he was signing paperwork, an apprentice car salesman, who was a bit older than me and fairly cute despite having braces, kept me company.

Apprentice Car Salesman: So, do you go to school?
Sara: Yeah, I do. I'm an English major.
A: Are you? Have you read Jack Kerouac's On the Road?
S: No, is it good?
A: It's wonderful. I have an extra copy, actually.
S: Really? With you here? Can I borrow it? I'm bored.
A: It's not with me, but if you want to come back with your dad when he turns in *random thing I have no clue about* I'll bring it for you. You can keep it and everything.
S: That's so nice! Thanks!
A: Sure thing. You'll have to call me when you're done, of course, and let me know how you like it.
A: Erm--sure.
S: Yay! It needs a name.
A: And maybe after--
S: The Roadsters. It refers to the book, but in public, people will think we're in a motorcycle gang. 
A: Uh-huh. And maybe after, we can, you know, apply our favorite parts of the book to our lives.
S:...Are you asking me to take a road trip with you? Because I don't know you well enough for that.
A: Um.

Well, as it happens, I completely forgot about our book club the next day, and never saw him again. But today, in one of my classes, a short story we read referred to On the Road, and it made me think of him. And not in the best light. I still haven't read it, but our teacher summarized it briefly for us.

HAVE YOU ANY IDEA HOW MUCH SEX IS IN THAT BOOK? DO YOU REALIZE WHAT HE WAS ASKING ME TO DO? And it's FAR too late for me to go back to the dealership, give him a piece of my mind, and slap him dramatically. I had no idea. And I am much offended now.

Also, the car we got after turning in the convertible works out much better for our family. We can all drive it; just as long as we have called my dad and gotten his express permission, agree not to drive anyone else in it, and park it in the center of the driveway when we're done so we don't scratch the sides on the garage.


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who does this!

  2. P.S. that guy did deserve a slap