Category Archives: Cars

When You Finally Own Your Dream Car

“I’m crazy about the car I drive, while people struggle just to stay alive.”-Rick Springfield.

Followers of my blog recall the song I was listening to when I wrote about my last new car: it was Barry Manilow. Joan Jett seems more appropriate for this car.

Followers of my blog recall I was listening to Barry Manilow when I wrote about my last new car. Joan Jett seems more appropriate for this one.

I face a couple of conundrums when asked the question, “How is married life?”. The first difficulty lies in crafting an honest reply without sounding like I am bragging. The ultimate truthful response would sound something like: “Oh, do you mean what is it like to be married to the most awesome person on the planet, someone so selfless and thoughtful that I wouldn’t change one thing about him? Hm, well, I guess I would have to say that life is beyond sweet. It’s lucky we both have jobs which require us to work so much. Otherwise we would probably nauseate people with our excessive public displays of affection.”

That response doesn’t always land well in polite conversations, plus I’m still left with the more difficult dilemma: how to find the words to describe something that is probably not describable. I’m reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert’s challenge of communicating the state of meditational bliss in the book Eat, Pray, Love : “…even the most eloquent reporters of the devotional experience….leave me behind. I don’t want to read about it; I want to feel it.” Even the best writers can fall flat when attempting to articulate emotions which surpass happiness and leave exhilaration in a cloud of dust.

I find myself with similar challenges in humility and appropriate verbalization when asked the question, “How do you like your new car?” While I certainly do not want to imply comparisons of driving my new Lexus to my amazing husband or to other people’s transcendental experiences, I definitely have been struggling to feign a coolness that belies the fact that I am giddy with excitement. “Oh, do you mean what is it like to experience the one vehicle I’ve been dreaming about since I started working at Lexus 11 years ago, the exact same car I would drive if I were a gabillionaire like Oprah?”

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The Lexus GS350 might even be the idea of the car I was craving as far back in 1989, when I bought my brand-new Mazda 323. That small red sedan, while nice and reliable, also left me constantly lamenting the microscopic exhaust pipe that poked out from beneath the rear bumper. Each time I approached my car, I caught sight of it and the word “lame” popped into my head. I felt like the tiny tailpipe told the whole world that the horsepower in my car was less than most people’s IQ. Even then, I dreamed of a flashy exhaust system, one that alluded to a performance vehicle which could easily lure me into driving like a jerk, peeling out from every stoplight as if my life depended on winning a race with the person sitting in the next lane.

Ok, so I have a thing about large tailpipes.

Ok, so I have a thing about large tailpipes.

I won’t even try to discuss whether or not I deserve to drive this car, because I suspect that I do not, and because it is not my place to determine my own worthiness. While I can say I deserve an amazing husband like Kevin, and I might even deserve to one day encounter a brush with nirvana, somehow it feels like pushing my luck to ask for the chance to drive a car that retails for more than most people make in a year. Granted, I wouldn’t be able to drive it if I didn’t work for the dealership, where they were able to take all of the end-of-year incentives, rates and discounts, stir them into a pot, and simmer on low for 4 days until they found a number that matched my current car payment. AND it is a lease, which is always a path to being able to drive a nicer car than one could normally afford. But still, I find myself a little embarrassed to talk about it, much in the same way I am reticent to discuss my marriage, which may be the closest thing to perfection I’ve known in my entire life.

My seventh Lexus.

My seventh Lexus.

The truth is, I want everyone to be able to experience these things, but I know that life is about choices. While some people have more opportunity than I do to live in a fancy house, and I have more opportunity than others to drive a fancy car, the amenities of our American culture are offered to people in a subtle mix of luck, karma, hard work, timing, priorities, innate skill, connections and personal taste. The best I can do is to demonstrate gratitude, and not take the blessings for granted. I have to show Kevin every day that I appreciate him. I have to appreciate the dealership position that allowed me the chance to drive this dream vehicle. I have to work hard every day to merit the comforts in my life, knowing that it is a random combination of circumstances that led me to this 3,800 lb masterpiece of automotive styling in black/black. And finally, I need to craft a response to the question-“How do you like your new car?” that hints of an honest answer without making me sound like a tool.

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Selfie with my 2014 Lexus GS350

So, I’ll keep it simple and say that I love the new Lexus very much. I enjoy the S-flow feature which envelopes the driver in the perfect climate. I relish the 306-hp engine that roars to life when I step on the accelerator. I value the blind spot monitors which protect me from cars in the next lane. Although the GS is more than just the sum of all of the incredible parts, I am honored and humbled to drive such a phenomenal machine. This is one Lexus I may just hold on to for awhile.


Thankful for Randomness

In 1988 I went to Atlanta with a co-worker named Mark to party with some of his friends; one of them was an auto mechanic and part-time race car driver. I thought the mechanic/driver was cute, so of course I feigned an interest in cars to make conversation. By the end of the night, mechanic/driver and I had arranged for me to bring my car from Athens to Atlanta for a major service, and in return I would treat him to dinner. His name was Charlie, and we dated on-and-off for a couple years. It ended amicably, and we’re even Facebook friends today.


At Road Atlanta, 1989

The reason I mention this story is not because Charlie (the guy) was significant in my life, but because Charlie’s passion (the cars) stuck with me. Our random meeting led to my life taking a distinctly different turn. Had I not gone to Atlanta that night, I would have never been exposed to the automotive world. Though we had long since broken up, Charlie was somewhere in the back of my psyche when I told my sister in 1997, “I want to move to Augusta; watch the classifieds for me.” I told her I would sell either cosmetics (which I had done before) or cars. She kept an eye out for sales openings and in no time, I was driving to Augusta for interviews.

If you know anything about the car business, you know that there is always a dealership looking for sales professionals; it has got to be the highest turnover of any industry. In a matter of weeks, I was making plans to move to Augusta. Because of this fortuitous turn of events, my life evolved into a new career, and ultimately I would meet the most significant person in my life-Kevin. In addition to being the most amazing service manager this town has ever seen, he is the most amazing human being I have ever met.  Without the interest in cars I adopted from Charlie, I would never have met Kevin, and my life would have traveled down an entirely divergent path.


Ang with love of her life

Kevin has made so much possible in my life, and followers of my blog have heard many of those stories. One which I’ve not yet mentioned is the thoughtful surprise he arranged for me: to be a driver of a racecar at the Richard Petty experience. In terms of adrenaline, it only matches jumping out of a plane for powerful life memories. That’s an experience I wouldn’t have had without Kevin.


I’m sure the career path from cosmetics to cars is an unusual one, but I’ve loved both industries equally. I’ve been able to drive the latest cars, learn the newest technology and meet the coolest people. In my early days at Saturn, I was introduced to Dave Rosenblum, who coordinated an inner-city youth racing program in which at-risk teens worked as part of a pit crew. We brought Dave and his car to Augusta, and he spoke at Evans High School about the importance of staying clean and working hard.


Inner city youth race car, circa 1998

Meeting people like Dave and driving Richard Petty-level race cars are life moments I will always cherish, and there was a certain randomness that brought them to me. Having sensed this randomness at a young age, I’ve long been intrigued by small decisions that have metamorphic results. I often ask couples how they initially met, are there is always a similarly arbitrary set of events that led to their life-changing connection. It makes me aware and appreciative of the power of taking risks, as well as the power of making ostensibly innocent decisions.

Whether or not indiscriminate circumstances are the result of divine intervention, destiny, karma, or natural chaos is not the purpose of this blog. Regardless of the source of the coincidences which bring people together, there is an inherently magical or miraculous feeling which can inspire tremendous gratitude. While I subscribe to the theory that I must take ownership of the events in my life, I also acknowledge that I have been tremendously lucky or blessed, depending on your POV. Ever-grateful, I can say a prayer for the immense blessings of my life, but I think it is also nice to be somewhat indebted to Mark and Charlie, good guys that fortunately crossed my path at the right time, and opened up a world I never would have known otherwise.