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New Job, New Ride

August 20, 2006

On August 11th I left my position as an Automation Specialist for an electrical distributor and on August 14th I started my position as a Process Controls Engineer for a large company at one of their small manufacturing plants, a planned change. I was never really comfortable as an Automation Specialist which, at least where I worked, was a salesman. I would find myself saying the wrong things to customers, such as “No, Bob, you really don’t need to upgrade to our latest, greatest gizmowidget — what you have will serve your purposes just fine.” Sales folk are supposed to encourage the upgrading to, and therefore the buying of, the latest, greatest gizmowidget, whether or not it was of any need to Bob. Telling the customer he doesn’t need it is against the “Sale All You Can However You Can” code that I was supposed to be following.

My new position is at a fairly small factory with one production line and primarily one product. It’s a modern plant, but dated a tad by selections made in the past and woefully short in documentation of what is there. Over the next few years, hopefully I can help move them to a world-class level of automaton as well as world-class in documentation of their automation.

But, of course, who cares. What really changed with my job change was the loss of the company car, and my need for transportation for the hour and fifteen minute one-way commute four days a week. Being as how we don’t do debt, I was paying cash. Being as how the job change was costing me $1,400 in un-refunded tuition, and that as the new plant keeps you a week behind where my old company didn’t I was making up a week’s pay, and that our emergency fund was running low because of a couple of other things of late, and I didn’t want to get into any other money, the cash to spend was limited to $3,500.00.

My first thought was a small used pick-up. Turns out, most folks seemed to like their small pick-ups much more than I did. Much more. There were no reasonable deals to be found, let alone good deals. So, I shifted my thinking to a sedan. Long story short, I didn’t find much better here. Everything was well over book value, and the only one I actually looked at looked pathetic. So I did something I never dreamed I’d be doing — I shopped eBay for a car, and found one. A 1997 Dodge Intrepid, base model (i.e., not an ES), with a 3.5L engine. When thinking about buying a car on eBay, I figured I had more knowledge about the seller, through eBay’s feedback system, than I did with a local seller. Granted I wasn’t going to actually see the car, other than some photos, but I took a chance. Primarily took the chance because the car was going for less than $1K, and had a book value, if in fair condition, of $2,680. I put a max bid of $1,300 and got it at $1,226. With the $125 “administration fee” (read that as “buyer pays the eBay fees”) that was slightly over half of the book value.

I knew a couple of things going in (from talking to the seller). It had a crack in the windshield, it needed a couple of new tires, and it had no radio. The car had been repossessed, so I knew there might be another 1997 Dodge Intrepid thing or two I would find. But I figured I had about $1,300 to play with to get it to “fair” condition, per Kelly Blue Book, so it would be a pretty good shot at that price. So far, so good. The clickable photo here gives you an idea of what it looks like, and later on I’ll be adding a more detailed page on it. After replacing several fuses everything works, and I did put a couple of tires on it — found used ones to match the wear on the others, and by installing used tires, some 25K to 30K miles from now they’ll all four need replaced, and I much prefer changing all four at once. I’ve also changed out the headlights, which worked but were broken and loose in the car, replaced two interior lamps, one exterior light, had a couple of belts changed, had the oil changed, and installed my satellite radio receiver. So far, it appears I got a pretty good deal.

Now, of course, after having it a couple of weeks and fixing a few things, Number One Son wants it. Apparently I’ll be back to looking for a small pick-up in a few months and passing the car on to him. And I’ll already miss her. The Trep (yep, I named her) is growing on me every time I drive her.

In any case, wish me luck in the new job, and wish me luck with The Trep.

From → Ramblings

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