Buying Your Next Vehicle: Understand The Bill of Sale

In Ontario we have the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) legislature and the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) to enforce it. OMVIC is important because it is this council that behaves as a “Better Business Bureau” for the Automotive industry when it comes to selling and advertising.

Some important things to know:

a) Dealers cannot sell a vehicle for more than the listed Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) – this can be found on all Manufacturer’s websites

b) The Selling price of the vehicle is the MSRP plus added Options off the base vehicle, plus Freight, plus Air Tax of $100. All four are found on Manufacturer’s websites.

c) After the Selling price on all contracts will be the Dealer Administration Fee, License Fee, Gas Fee, Tire Tax, Trade-In etc., this is part of the business and Dealers are highly unlikely to negotiate on these fees. It’s here that you’ll add in up to $2,000 on top of the Selling Price. Also, any extended warranties (I know they aren’t cheap usually start around $2,000, but they make good financial sense in the long run if you plan on keeping your vehicle longer than the manufacturer warranty) or other products that are sold in the business office. Each item must be called out on the bill of sale on it’s own line. These “miscellaneous” items plus HST gets us to the total to Finance.

d) The monthly payment is calculated off the total amount to finance and there will be a line under the total amount to finance that will show you how much interest on the loan that you are paying for the duration of the loan. Most finance contracts are open loans that mean you can pay them off early, saving on interest payments.

e) The Selling price (b) is important because the higher it is the more content you are getting in your vehicle so it’s good to know your model and know the price of the vehicle you actually are interested in buying.

Like any good business model, selling in-stock inventory is preferred where possible over factory ordering. Why? Because the longer a vehicle sits on a dealership lot the more money is being paid to the bank in interest for the line of credit. I am going to try to explain something without sounding sleazy and my apologies if I do.

One of my first customers who purchased a vehicle from me was mostly interested in colour and a few other options off of a mid-range model. I found a vehicle in inventory that suited them exactly, no extra features. I gave them payments and they agreed to the terms and there was very little negotiation on payment or price which is a bad thing for both the Seller and the Buyer. It’s bad for the Buyer because I am sure after a few days of taking possession of the vehicle they were thinking “I could have negotiated this price down.” And the Seller (I admit I did think this because I realized it was true but unethical) “I could have sold them a higher priced vehicle and made more money and they wouldn’t even have had a clue. They were more focused on colour and the monthly payment didn’t matter, an extra $2,000 on the Selling price with a better equipped model would have been $4/month more on their payment, they wouldn’t have noticed.”

So selling price is important, understand what you are buying; understand what content is in the vehicle that gets you to the price. Be comfortable and confident with what you are buying.

It’s not about negotiating the Selling price, it’s about understanding it and agreeing that you have made the right choice for you. It is not shrouded in secrecy; the Bill of Sale must show the model, option and MSRP as the Selling price along with all the added costs and fees. If there is something you disagree with, bring it up before signing the Bill of Sale.

As a consumer you can confirm the price and the model by going onto the Manufacturer website and double checking everything adds up. If something is off ask the Dealership to explain it and if they can’t explain the discrepancy use the tools available to you, contact OMVIC.

f) Once the Bill of sale is signed you are liable to meet the obligations of the contract unless otherwise stipulated on the bill of sale. Example of a stipulation: Subject to finance approval etc. Make sure you understand the Bill of sale before signing.

Buying a car should be a stress-free experience and as a customer you should feel informed on what you are buying and why. Understand that there are fees involved and that no matter how much you might not like the fees it is part of the business. One of the sales people I used to work with who I liked to call the “Al Pacino” impersonator (he should have really worn tweed and a bow tie) was never out to eat your dinner. Most of my coworkers were down to earth, hockey fans who had a hard time telling a lie and have severe Negotiaphobia (don’t tell them I said that! :))

Ok so this post has gone way off the rails from what I was intending – I became a little passionate about that “Bill of sale” and the “Selling price” but they are my two pet-peeves 🙂

If you are in the market for a car and have a question, ask away and I’ll do my best to answer.

eCityGirl’s Top 10 Features to Consider In A New Car

As much as styling and brand are important features when buying a new car, there are other small features that can make all the difference on whether you LOVE your car:

1. Seat comfort means more than how a car feels on that 10 minute test-drive. Seat comfort is how comfortable that seat is in your daily life, for example: Long distance driving seat comfort, bumpy road seat comfort, drive-in theater seat comfort, passenger seat comfort (it’s not a fun road trip when your passenger is complaining of back pain, cutting into the key conversation topics), back seat comfort including leg room, child-seat comfort (how well do they fit in the back seat) and the list goes on. When buying your car, make sure you try out all the seats and if the dealership allows, take the vehicle for a few hours to see how it fits into your lifestyle. With a purchase of this size, all dealerships should be open to allowing you an “afternoon” test drive.

2. Front armrests. One of those small features that can go un-noticed on that 10 minute test drive, but become a real pain in the arm and shoulder in your daily commute!

3. Auto-On/Off headlights. In the past, seen mostly on luxury vehicle, this feature has snuck all the way into Entry-level and Compact cars. A shout-out to Chevrolet for adding this as a standard feature on ALL their models.

4. Battery Saver. You’d think that with all the technology packed into the smallest cars, that this would be a standard feature on every vehicle. Well it’s not. Battery saver is pretty self-explanatory, it saves the battery so the next time you start your vehicle you aren’t looking for boost. We’ve all been guilty of pulling into our parking spot at night, turning off the car and then turning on the overhead dome light to read that text, find your keys in your purse/bag etc. You get out of the car and forget to turn off the dome light. Without battery saver, the next morning when you go to start your car, voila, your battery is dead. With battery saver, after 10 to 20 minutes of your vehicle not running with a light left on in the vehicle, the power is cut to the offending light that was left on so when you get to your car in the morning, you have enough battery to start the car. Great feature, wonderful feature, makes booster cables obsolete (ok, maybe not but hey, just getting my point across :))

5. Intelligent Keyless Entry (I am borrowing Nissan’s Terminology; I believe it best describes the feature!). Ok, so this feature isn’t as widely available on the base Entry-level vehicles but if it’s within your budget this is one feature that should not be overlooked. It allows you to walk up to your vehicle with your key in your pocket/bag/purse push a small button on the door handle and there you are, your driver’s door is open. Push it twice and all the doors are unlocked. There is no fumbling around for keys. I am going to make this one about women, I love this feature, especially going to my car late at night, if you were ever being followed this makes for the fastest entrance to your vehicle. I like to think of it as a safety feature 🙂

6. Push Button Start (Again, borrowing Nissan’s Terminology, they do so many things well in their product!). This feature goes hand in hand with Intelligent Keyless Entry. Once in the vehicle, put your foot on the brake, press the illuminated start button where the ignition key would normally go and away you go! Far far away from that creep chasing you through the dark parking lot!

7. Automatically Locking Doors. This is number three of every woman’s safety guide in escaping creeps. This is something Chevrolet does well. As soon as you put the vehicle into Drive, the doors lock. So if you time it all right, run to your car, using Intelligent Keyless Entry, Push Button Start, put your car in Drive, you are safe within seconds, cutting out the needless button finding. Seamless. Which vehicle has all three….the 2012 Cruze LTZ!

8. Compass. Such a small feature, but has come in handy many times or maybe I just like looking at compasses! I know most people have Navigation units, whether factory installed or that nice compact Garmin. I can’t come up with a compelling reason why you should want one; I just don’t see a reason why it shouldn’t be in a base car, it can come in handy when out travelling new roads when one does not have a GPS and only an old school map. I love maps. A little story here and perhaps this experience is why I am adamant on Compasses in cars. At 18, my brother and I convinced my parents that we would be allowed to borrow my sister’s car and take a week road trip. The only stipulation was we were to get off the 400 at Barrie and take back roads over to Guelph and down to get back onto the 401. I’ll admit, we didn’t break this rule, but we didn’t necessarily adhere to the other rules that were set out :). We made it successfully to Fergus, Ontario only to get a little turned around. My brother, not able to drive with his graduated license was the map reader. I asked my brother to find out where we were on the map. He pointed out “Right here.” Well that was not sufficient enough for me, what I should have asked is what direction he thought we were going. Needless to say, I gave him a little piece of my mind sitting there in the middle of nowhere not knowing really what direction we were pointing and what road we were suppose to be taking. If I remember correctly, I made him angry enough that it was a pretty silent trip from Fergus to London and I spent the rest of the trip making up for my angry remarks! If only we’d had a compass in our car!!!

9. Outside Temperature. A little feature, but seriously, if my blackberry can tell me the temperature outside using an app, why can’t my car?

10. Distance to Empty. I like driving till I have 3 drops of gas left in the tank.

Nuff Said.

Cruzing in a Chevrolet

This post is an article passed along from a friend that is now being shared with many friends!

One more reason to “come on down” and visit me at my digs in the
Chevy store 🙂 no pressure, I swear!

I do have one little story before you read the article.

Yesterday I had a girl come into the store shopping for a new compact Hatchback. She’d been to Mazda, Nissan and Honda to test-drive and check out their cars and stopped by Chevrolet only because it was convenient. She had no intention of buying a Chevrolet, but what the heck, she decided to come in and see what the advertising fuss was all about.

After our test drive and the great bi-weekly payments she was offered on the best equipped car she’d driven that day, she exclaimed “I never thought I’d like a Chevrolet!!”

Did she buy? Unfortunately not yet, but I have her number and you can bet what I’ll be doing this afternoon….calling her – don’t you just love sales people!

Why didn’t she buy yesterday? Pretending I can get into her head, she is struggling with the bow-tie, meaning the brand. Her heart is set on the product, but the brand is far away from who she wants to emulate. Aren’t customers the greatest?!

Now for the article:

Detroit Finds Small Is Beautiful as Compact Buyers Return | View Web
03/13/2012
Bloomberg News – Online
Keith Naughton

When the engine blew on his eight- year-old Toyota Matrix last year, Shane Wilson needed a new car fast and wanted something good on gas. He shopped the usual suspects: small Honda and Toyota models he’d owned in the past. Then he surprised himself by buying a Chevrolet Cruze.

“I thought American cars were pretty horrid and that they tended to fall apart,” said Wilson, 36, an accounts manager for the Internal Revenue Service in Seattle. “But the Cruze was fun to drive and the interior was light-years better than American cars used to be.”

Small cars, once the Achilles’ heel of U.S. automakers, are becoming a strength. Sales of General Motors Co.’s Chevy Cruze compact are up 10 percent this year, while Ford Motor Co.’s Focus compact sales have soared 90 percent. Last year, GM, Ford and Chrysler Group LLC’s share of the compact and subcompact market in the U.S. rose to a four-year high of 26 percent, from 20 percent in 2010, according to researcher LMC Automotive.

After losing a generation of car buyers to Japanese automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp., U.S.-based companies are building their comebacks on cars they once dismissed and discounted in favor of high-profit sport-utility vehicles. Small cars from Detroit are no longer utilitarian econoboxes. They have high style and high-tech features, such as voice-activated stereos, previously found only on bigger, more expensive models.

“Remember when smaller cars used to be cheap and cheerful?” Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally asked reporters March 6 at the Geneva motor show. “Now the consumers want the finest quality, the finest fuel efficiency, safety and design.”

Small-Car Foundation

While SUVs and pickups still have higher profit margins, Detroit has discovered that small cars are the foundation of a successful automaker. Since compacts are often a buyer’s first car, they represent the initial step in building brand loyalty. Toyota, Honda Motor Co. and other Japanese companies used small cars as their wedge into the U.S. market in the 1970s, while GM, Ford and Chrysler spent more development dollars on bigger models that burned more fuel.

The weakness of that strategy was exposed in 2008 when the average U.S. price of unleaded gasoline peaked at $4.11 a gallon. The lack of competitive compacts accelerated the collapse of U.S. automakers. Ford posted a record loss of $14.8 billion for 2008, and GM and Chrysler entered bankruptcy the following year.

“That was a defining moment for Detroit,” said Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis at auto researcher Edmunds.com in Santa Monica, California. “That really pointed out the weaknesses in their small-car lineups and it hit home that they needed strong models throughout their portfolio.”

Fuel Prices

As U.S. fuel prices return to those levels, small-car sales are rising, too. Compacts and subcompacts will account for 19 percent of U.S. auto sales this year, up from 13 percent in 2005, LMC forecasts. Regular unleaded gasoline averaged $3.80 a gallon on March 11, up 8.3 percent from a month ago, according to AAA.

Without the Cruze and Sonic subcompact that have debuted over last two years, GM wouldn’t weather the rising gas prices as well, said Don Johnson, the automaker’s U.S. sales chief.

“We wouldn’t be in as good a shape as we are today,” Johnson told analysts and reporters on a March 6 conference call. “Cruze continues to be a more and more important part of our portfolio.”

U.S. automakers see rising fuel prices as an opportunity to poach car buyers from Toyota and Honda, which have just fully restocked showrooms after natural disasters in Asia cut inventory in 2011.

‘More Competitive Models’

“With more competitive models from the Detroit brands, they’re positioned to benefit from the rise in gas prices,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC in Troy, Michigan. “Who would have thought that?”

Some of Detroit’s competitors acknowledge the change.

“The steady increase in gas prices over the last few years has forced many competitors to finally get serious about cars again and, for the first time ever, some of them are bringing credible small cars to market,” John Mendel, executive vice president of U.S. sales for Honda, said in an e-mail.

As car buyers return to showrooms, they’re finding significantly better fuel economy in the new models from U.S. automakers. The Cruze, Ford Focus and Fiesta are each rated to get 40 miles (64 kilometers) per gallon or better in highway driving.

“As fuel prices went higher in February, so too did small car sales,” said Erich Merkle, sales analyst for Ford, where Focus sales more than doubled last month.

Small-Car Supply

Car dealer Gordon Stewart can’t keep a small car in stock at his four Chevrolet outlets and it reminds him of how models sell at his Toyota outlet.

“If I could get the inventory, I’d double my small-car sales tomorrow,” said Stewart, whose Gordon Stewart Chevrolet Inc. is based in Tampa, Florida, and who has Chevy stores in Georgia, Florida and Michigan and a Toyota showroom in Alabama. “People used to come in looking for the big SUV, but now I sell almost two cars for every truck. It’s much more like my Toyota store.”

The primary attribute of Chevy’s old Cavalier compact was its rock-bottom price, Stewart said. Now the Cruze and Sonic sell on style and performance.

“We sold the Cavalier in volume because of price,” Stewart said. “We’re selling the Cruze because the styling is so hot.”

Looking to Japanese

U.S. small cars still haven’t caught up to Japanese models in quality rankings. Japanese automakers held the top five spots last month in Consumer Reports automaker report cards, a measure of reliability, performance, comfort and utility. the publication selected Toyota models as the top pick in five of 10 categories, including family sedan (Camry hybrid) and green car (Prius).

“People still look to Japanese automakers when they shop for small cars,” said Edmunds’ Caldwell. “A Toyota Corolla is something they know.” The Corolla trails only Honda’s Civic as the top-selling compact in the U.S. so far this year.

Among U.S. automakers, Chrysler has the longest way to go to become competitive in small cars, Caldwell said. Next month, Chrysler begins producing the Dodge Dart compact, based on a design from Turin-based Fiat SpA (F), which controls the U.S. automaker. Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both companies, has called Chrysler’s current small car, the Dodge Caliber, an “abomination.”

Chrysler acknowledged it remains dependent on SUVs and light trucks in a March 6 regulatory filing.

Changing Equation

Even with its recent small-car gains, Chrysler’s sales are dominated by sport-utility vehicles, pickups and larger minivans, the company said in the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company delivered 552,000 SUVs in the U.S. last year compared with 354,000 cars. It sold 244,000 pickups, compared with 52,000 small cars.

GM, Ford and Chrysler are steadily changing that equation, said LMC’s Schuster. They also are finding ways to make money on small cars, which were loss leaders before they cut costs and added features to justify increased prices.

“They’re getting the recipe right,” Schuster said. “It’s a night-and-day difference between where Detroit is today and where they were back in 2008 when rising gas prices caught them off-guard.”

New Cruze owner Wilson says he has been surprised by the 34 mpg he’s averaging and that for $15,096, he got a base-model small car with satellite radio, a six-speed manual transmission and a black-and-cream interior that looks “rich.”

No one was more surprised, though, than Wilson’s friends when he pulled up for the first time in an American small car.

“They were like, ‘Really, a Chevy?’” Wilson said. “Then some of them had a chance to drive it and they were like, ‘OK, this is pretty decent. This is not what we’re used to.’”

Super Sonic, Why I like Driving the Sonic

Super Sonic, Why I like Driving the Sonic

Three months ago I started driving a Chevrolet Sonic. Coming from a Japanese manufacturer who’s main brand pillar is performance and building a driver’s car, getting into Chevrolet was giving me heart burn and to top it off a small car.

Selling 101 is believing in the product that you are promoting. Choosing to come work for Chevrolet immediately put me at a disadvantage to becoming a great salesperson. We know that Chevrolet ignored the long-term effects of brand and customer loyalty by building years worth of cheap, badly engineered vehicles and blowing them out of showroom’s with copious amounts of customer incentives.

Good thing my intent of joining Chevrolet was never to be the world’s greatest salesperson, nor was it to fall in love with a product that is struggling to find it’s place with Generation X, Y and Z.

Regardless of my reason’s behind choosing Chevrolet as a brand to work for, I had reservations driving one which I feel were well grounded being a) the brand’s negative perceived quality and b) driving a Small Car, where I would have to adjust losing the comforts most commonly found in full-sized, luxury vehicle, including interior features and most important, power.

After 3 months the Chevrolet Sonic, I have been pleasantly surprised by my growing adoration for the Sonic and here are the top 5 reason’s it has won my admiration:

1) It has a driver’s side armrest. This might sounds trivial but this is an item that as driver’s we don’t realize how important it is until it’s gone! Alot of entry-level vehicles lose the driver’s seat armrest in favour of a slight price advantage. How much would you pay for a driver’s seat armrest $50, $100, $200?

2) Comfortable seats. Another easy way to reduce cost in a vehicle without visually losing feature’s is using cheaper materials. Seats are a great way to reduce cost with less expensive cushioning. Again, it is something a driver might not necessarily notice until after delivery on that +600 km road trip to Montreal. With over 5,000 km’s, my buttock and back are happy campers and game for any road trip I deem appropriate.

3) Standard Bluetooth! The majority of customers coming into the store are baby boomers, is this brand specific or is the biggest consumer group evenly shopping all brands? In any event not all baby boomers seem to care about this standard feature, however, I feel Bluetooth is super important for late Gen X’ers and Gen Y, the target audience of Sonic. What is curious is the target audience is insisting on skipping the Entry-Level Sonic altogether and opting for the larger Chevrolet Cruze. From my perspective on the sales floor, the Entry-Level segment is overloaded with interesting product that the target customer’s aren’t interested in buying. Gen X and Y reasoning on moving up to the Cruze, well they are thinking about children in 2 years and want something that will fit them for 5 years. So who is coming into the store to talk about Sonic? Baby boomers who have grandchildren to cart around three times a month. Again, is this the core customer’s of Chevrolet just coming out for a tour of the dealership or is this a trend for all Entry-Level competitors?

4) Zippy when I need it to be. Sonic does a great job of merging into traffic on the 401, 427, QEW and 403, to name a few major highways. A few years ago, I met a rather handsome fellow (his handsomeness is irrelevant to the story, but decided it was worthy to note) who had a little sticker under the speedometer of his car that said “SLOW DOWN”. I found it amusing and sweet and if you know me, I could hardly contain my laughter not because I thought him funny, but rather it was so ingenious! We would get into heated arguments about speeding and since he’d had enough tickets to prompt a “SLOW DOWN” reminder on his dashboard, I didn’t have much of an argument. I vote that Sonic come standard with a factory installed “SLOW DOWN” sticker, just as a friendly reminder!

5) Instrument panel and Centre console. I love the interior styling and ease of use of the controls on the Instrument panel and Centre console. I am equally happy that Chevrolet has taken queues from import brands where fit and finish is an engineering consideration. I particularly like the “motorcycle” inspired interior design and the steering wheel controls with their soft rubber grips that make it easy to navigate through the menu’s.

**I have to add one more item to my list of things I love about the Sonic, Remote Start! What a great feature and it has a pretty impressive range (for me anyhow). When I step out of my elevator in the parking garage and I am still a 3 minutes walk to my car, I press my remote start and it turns on! Love it!

***One more item, this is standard on all Chevrolet’s, the Auto On/Off Headlights that sense when to turn On/Off the night headlights! Its so great not having to turn off the lights when I park the car, and equally, something I do not have to think about when it starts getting dust, they magically turn on 🙂

Similar to a relationship, after all the newness and excitement wears off, it’s important to have the must-have, important features – they make all the difference! Regardless that I sell for Chevrolet, I happily promote Sonic with fevor because I believe in the product.

What was your favourite car and more important, top 5 must have features?

Subconscious Existence

Ok so here I am trying to figure out what to do, why am I always trying to figure out what to do? If I just did instead of trying to figure everything out it would work a lot quicker and stuff would get done. Distractions, I will blame it on them, they come along and take me away from whatever it is I should be doing, it’s not my fault! 😉

It may be surprising, being in the automotive industry and all, that I cannot remember the last time I picked up a car magazine and flipped through and enjoyed it. The other day a co-worker of mine dropped the 2009 Auto Traders Buyer Guide on my desk – there was an article about him on page 112. He’s a car enthusiast, been working in sales since retiring from Air Canada 20 years ago. Ron works only on Saturday and calls himself the Dealerships “cat”. He doesn’t have a designated desk and he roams around giving advice, he is costing the dealership nothing but giving much in return.

In 2009 Nissan launched the revamped 370z, the G37 was going into its second sales season with its new design and the Pathfinder, well it wasn’t sure it still needed a V8 on it’s top model.

That year I was well on my mad quest to learn everything there was about a perplexing, multi-faceted ordering system. I had jumped in with both feet a year earlier, held my breath and for the next two years worked with the most amazing team. There were incredibly long hours and manual interventions to make it all work, but we did it and made a difference. I believed in the effort I was expending and learned many lessons and met some of my best friends.

So realizing my embarrassment of not having taken time to flip through and enjoy an automotive magazine for quite some time, I started to reflect on how I ended up in this state. Did I go to sleep for the last few years?

It’s taken a few months, but the spell is starting to come undone and it feels good and somewhat awkward. I know I am not alone, how do we get ourselves into states of subconscious existence? Letting our conscious minds sleep, functioning as robots and perhaps being very good and efficient at our work, expert even. Some like to call it not stopping to smell the roses, the only problem is the world around us becomes so blurry that we can’t see the roses, even if they did jump out of the ground and smack us!

I am going to call it “Sleeping Beauty phenomenon”, except unlike the fairy tales, there is no prince to come and kiss us out of our deep sleep and into a new magnificent reality. Instead we roll off the lumpy sleeping beauty bed, bumping our heads on the way down, landing with a hard thump into the overgrown underbrush.

I don’t know how the story ends or how we stand up and walk forward, I just trust that somehow our limps become agile once again and we find our way.

Winter, Cars and Tires

We have passed the Winter Solstice and are well on our way into the winter season. The unfortunate part is the limited amounts of snow we are experiencing this winter. Learning to drive just south of the 49th parallel meant snow covered roads from mid-November until mid-March when the North started warming up and the snow started to slowly melt away.

My experience with winter tires can be explained like a great relationship that once gone, realize how wonderful it was.

I learned to drive on old logging roads in the late summer when the blueberries were in their prime. We’d take a drive out to a corner of the woods, surrounded by new growth springing up after a forest fire. Blueberry picking was boring and a little frightening for the sole reason that you never knew where the bears were lurking. It was on these old fire roads I learned to drive and how to get myself out of muddy situations.

The first car I drove was a rear-drive, 1972 4-door Pontiac LeMans, inline 6, 250 ci, 130 hp @ 4000 rpm with a whopping 205 lb-ft of torque @ 1600 rpm. Somehow 20 years later these numbers matter when at the time all that mattered was the roar of the engine and the leaded fuel pushing the car forward faster than I could run. The LeMans had a bench seat in the front and rear that helped our family of six fit rather comfortably. My favourite thing about the car was the high beam light switch on the floor that had to be pushed with your left foot. During the summers, I took great pride in washing the LeMans, using the orange wash bucket with warm soapy water, always taking extra care on the white walls, scrubbing them till they were gleaming white.

Growing up there was always that day in the fall when the summer tires came off the car and the winter tires were put on. Dad would pull the car into the garage and I would unsuccessfully attempt to get my hands in on the job.

By the time I was officially allowed to drive on the road, the LeMans had been replaced with a rear-drive 1984 Delta Eighty-Eight Royale Brougham Oldsmobile, V8, 307 ci, 150 hp @ 3600 rpm with 245 lb-ft of torque @ 1600. This car came equipped with a “turbo-hyrdomatic 200 4R” transmission with an overdrive gear and a torque converter clutch, all things necessary in maximizing fuel economy and faster acceleration “now”. At the time, I was so happy to say good-bye to the faithful LeMans for something more modern. There would be no more “Mom, you can just drop me off here at the bottom of the hill, I’ll walk the rest of the way to school from here.” It was with this car that I experienced winter roads and learned that snow banks and garage doors are not to be trusted!

In my teens, I spend copious amounts of gas driving around for no other reason than I loved driving and generally misbehaving in large unoccupied parking lots. Many times I would have a willing passenger and we’d dream up new and improved manoeuvers to do with the car and find unplowed back roads to try things out. The best part was slaloming through empty parking lots, drifting and doing impressive 360 donuts, something that can only really be enjoyed in a rear-drive vehicle. On the road, however, all the fun ended but it sure made me aware of how to handle the car on icy, snow covered roads.

When I moved away for college, I was on my own without a car and I felt trapped. No more gallivanting around for no reason to some obscure place just to check it out; I had a bus pass and my two legs. By my 3rd year, thankfully, my sister donated her 1989 baby blue manual transmission Mazda 323, I was in heaven; forget that each time I went anywhere I was lifting the hood to tighten the alternator belt, that the back hatch hydraulics’ were worn with the hatch winning numerous times, hitting me in the head and that I had to check the oil level anytime I decided I wanted to drive more than 50 kilometers!

It was the first winter in Southern Ontario with the 323 that I realized how important those winter tires were that dad so consistently put on each year. There were no dramatic into the ditch or snow bank episodes, just some obvious handling differences. Armed with my “all-season” tires, I noticed longer stopping distances and more sliding on icy surfaces. I am no expert on the science behind tires, but I have learned to appreciate winter tires regardless of their irritating whirr when cruising along the highway; the softer compound making for shorter stopping distances and improved traction on icy, snowy roads.

2 gum drops

I have made it to the end of my second week at my new job, learning all about sales or should I say, all about product that I will be expected to start selling.

The first day on the job was anything but easy.  I had just come from an 8-year professional relationship at a corporate office and the sensation was as though I had run the 100 meter dash directly into a cement wall. I battled thoughts of “did I do the right thing”, “what have I done”, “will it be possible for me to make enough to pay my mortgage” to just sheer panic. I have never felt like crying for no reason as much as I did that first day.

I felt suspended between two worlds, one that I had left and the other that was a huge unknown. It was just as scary thinking of going backwards as it was to go forward. I made it through the day with a smile on my face only to land at home in a heap of tears and confusion. I couldn’t talk without crying even though I didn’t feel sad, it just seemed so much better to converse in a waterfall of tears!

Fast forward to day 9, by now my coworkers are looking me in the eye instead of the more popular sideways look. They are all concerned for me, especially the fact that I have this innate ability to sit at my desk and find things to do on my computer for 8 hours straight without blinking. They don’t realize this is one of many skills I have honed over the last 8 years. If anything I am an expert at being busy with a computer and a keyboard.

The first week I madly resorted to tried and true skills, I started making product cheat sheets and price charts. The first time I opened Excel at my new desk, I almost cried at the thought that there was absolutely no reason in my new role to even open the program. I didn’t have any vLookups to write or Pivot tables to create and manipulate and no large Excel data files to concatenate. It was a freedom that I was afraid to enjoy!

The day I arrived at my new job, as expected, I was kindly introduced to the staff and was shown my new desk. The cubicle had been vacant for a few months and there were random things littered throughout. As I like my desk to be clean and paperless where possible, I started sifting through the drawers to my left.

I found packages of instant Oatmeal, pens, paper, binders full of sales contracts, paper clips, a three-hole punch, a stapler, sales material and a variety of other desk goods that made it directly into the waste basket. Once I was done cleaning my drawers, I eyed a filing cabinet sitting cramped in the corner at the entrance to my cubicle. It was in the way of getting to the two empty chairs on the opposite side of my desk.

I walked over to the filing cabinet to investigate the contents. It was then out of the corner of my eye I noticed a fellow coworker bounding towards me with a gaggle of followers, yelling “No, no, no, don’t touch that, that’s mine”.

Incredulously, I looked up and repeated “This cabinet is yours?”

“Yes”, my coworker replied, “and it is my stuff inside”.

Humph, I gently asked if we might be able to move the cabinet, perhaps to a more deserving location that wasn’t blocking the passage way to my empty seats.

“No, we must leave it here, the owner of the store said to put it there. It used to be in my cubicle” as my coworker pointed to their cubicle, “but it was taking up too much space” (similar to how it is taking up space in my cubicle).

“Well perhaps we can talk to our direct manager and come to an agreement on where we might be able to move this cabinet?” I asked

“The owner said we must put it here” my coworker repeated.

I realized this was very important to my coworker but wasn’t expecting the following line.

“How about we leave it where it is for now, and we’ll see how well you do and if you are still here in a couple of months, then we’ll talk about moving the filing cabinet”.

Did your mouth just drop? Mine sure did. I was still trying to figure out why I had left a well-paying career for a cubicle with a stubborn filing cabinet that was taking up space and now was being told in no uncertain terms that the odds were stacked against me!

After the flock of coworkers left the area, I quietly pushed the filing cabinet from one end of my cubicle to the other, opening up my seating area.