You better shop around

Fasten your sense of humor belts and take a shopping trip with me.

Choosing a suitable mate is a lot like shopping for a car. When you first get a new one, it’s exciting and you want to spend a lot of time with it. After a while, it can become merely a functional tool for daily existence. Eventually, the relationship can break down completely, especially when it’s most needed.

Now I’m not saying relationships (with both a person and a car) aren’t worth the trouble. Some last a very long time and are quite reliable. But you never know at the outset, when you plunk your money down, whether you have a lemon or a keeper.

Paying close attention to details when shopping will help reveal what kind of model you’re dealing with.

1.) Examine your potential purchase. Things like size, build, and name are important to some shoppers. Check from all angles: front, side, rear. What options are included in the package? The sound system is crucial to some, while others are more concerned with comfort.

2.) Inhale deeply. There’s nothing like the scent of a brand-new car, or freshly-showered date. Cleanliness definitely can affect your impression of the prospective purchase. Later in the relationship, these rules will undoubtedly change as you grow comfortable.

3.) Project the endurance or longevity of the product. Is it a new or a used model? Is there an excessive amount of miles on it already? Remember sometimes used cars can be extremely loyal. Year of production should have little relevance; who cares about age as long as it is reliable.

4.) One option to avoid: cruise control. While this device might seem like a luxury or even a must-have, it is actually dangerous. Setting it at one speed gets very boring; your mind will start to wander and you might run your new purchase right off the road, totaling it. Cruise control is a dangerous convenience and has no place in a good relationship.

5.) Investigate your model’s quirks. Each model will have idiosyncrasies, which is what makes it special. Besides, learning these quirks can be a fun experience. So don’t fret if the horn sticks once in a while or one of the headlights is missing—these qualities will endear your model to you.

6.) Make sure all the essentials are intact and functioning. No one wants a useless burden marring her front yard, set up on cinder blocks. The model has to run, even if several minutes of warmup is required. So examine it thoroughly. Things to check out: make sure the motor runs, it stops when brakes are applied, and the light inside works.

7.) Check the sticker price. Does it seem worth the expense of time, effort, and money for the returns? This should not be a one-sided deal, after all.

8.) Find out how accessible service is in case of a breakdown. Will towing be provided? How fast can your model be returned after servicing?

9.) To wrap up the inspection, take it for a test drive. While driving, assess comfort, responsiveness, and handling. If the model doesn’t meet your needs in this area, you certainly won’t enjoy using it regularly. And while some adjustments can be made, it will inherently perform as it was built to.

Now that you’ve thoroughly examined and tested the car/mate, you can make an informed decision. Remember to take each aspect into consideration from a holistic viewpoint; no car or relationship will be perfect.

Oh, I almost forgot. After you have selected your model of choice, take good care of it. If you get careless, someone might steal it. And never, but never, let a friend take it for a spin.