Tuesday, June 24, 2008


People always say that the only thing you can count on is change. Nowadays the only thing that’s changing is the perpetual increase in gas prices. The economy must be suffering. I’ve never seen so many speed traps on 490 as I have in the last month and half since I came back in town. The high gas price has not only changed my driving habit (yes, it has, I’m well below 80mph now) but also my frame of mind. Last week while I was driving home from work on Mt. Hope, I noticed an older man all geared up on his bicycle towing a small trailer behind. He was blocking the right lane during rush hour with bumper to bumper traffic. I would have been pretty annoyed by this situation a year ago but recent changes have made me a supporter of his action. I truly admire his tenacity. As I drove by I wanted to wave and thank him for taking a stand and saving the environment and blocking traffic just to make a statement for the rest of us. Thank you bicycle guy! Hope to see you again on Mt. Hope again!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Happy Beetle

I love shopping but the idea of shopping for a new car really red lines my ready revved up stress level. I’m a pretty sharp person and meet the criteria for the above average math skills stereotype that is so prevalent for the general Asian population. However, I’ve never considered myself a shrewd business woman who is capable of negotiating for an unbeatable deal for just about anything. I lucked out with my current lease on the Infiniti G35 by an impromptu stop at the Dorschel dealer with John, the ultimate negotiator/motivator, who single handedly got us two fantastic lease deals after relentlessly going back and forth with the sales women for four hours! Since then John has gone back for an upgrade on his G35 and now as the end of my lease approaches I’m once again on the market for a new car. I have to admit that I’m pretty spoiled by the Infiniti and the low payment lease program. Not everyone is a fan of leasing a car but I’m pretty sold on the idea of zero maintenance cost and new car every two to three years. The Beetle convertible was a close runner up last time but the major deterrent was the fact that there was no way I could get my guitar to fit into the non-existing trunk space. Three years later I still can’t get the bug out of my head but this time I no longer have to transport my guitar to and from places and I have no plans on driving cross country on a whim carrying all of my belongs.

With a good idea of what I want (Beetle convertible, manual transmission and leather seat warmers), I stopped by the VW Dorschel dealer to get a feel for what’s out there on Friday afternoon. Gregory, the Ukrainian car engineer turn car salesman, took me for a test drive in a black manual convertible. The drive was pleasant but I was more interested in hearing the numbers. After waiting around for a little while Gregory came back with $1500 down and $309 per month for 36 months. I was a little shocked by the numbers since the VW online advertisement shows $1999 down (excluding tax and registration) for $229 a month. I expected a bit mark up at the dealership but definitely nothing that drastic. I am fully aware how lease payments are calculated and the Russian assured me that they’re running the lease at 62% residual with money factor set at 0.00089 or 2.14%. He talked a lot of stuff but I was very unconvinced and turned off by his high pressure sales strategy (I later ran the same numbers on Excel with $24,414 MSRP and the payment came out just over $270).

I immediately called a family friend, Phil Britton, at the Vincent Mazda dealer. He referred me to Chris Wilson at the Vincent VW dealer who ran the same numbers and offered me $1600 down and $263 per months. I gave him a verbal commitment over the phone and agreed to sign whatever papers necessary to secure the car from another dealer for end of July. All this happened with merely a couple of phone calls. I was happy with the numbers and they were happy with me.

The only headache left was the unrelenting phone calls from the Russian. I finally had to call him back and tell him what Vincent offered. This time Gregory sounded just as incredulous as I was. He told me he will match any offer that is printed and signed on paper. I guess things like this really bring out the vindictive side of me. I signed a $1600 check over to Vincent this morning and asked Chris to print out the offer just to fuck with the Russian. Even with the offer in black and white, Gregory is still not convinced that I did not fabricate the numbers myself. He tried to persuade me to do business with Dorschel for all the time and effort he has invested. I corrected him by 1), I have to take the best offer and 2) he was actually wasting my time for not giving me a better offer in the first place. He called in the sales manager and showed him the numbers from Vincent. The manager apologized for the $309 payment I got on Friday and offered me $249/month that expires by end of the day. I was honestly impressed by how aggressive and straightforward he was. Unfortunately they put themselves in a compromising position by not offering me the better deal earlier. What could possibly happen in 3 days that reduced the monthly payment by almost 20%? That’s $2160 over 36 months. So for anyone else out there shopping for a new Beetle convertible with winter package: it’s not a deal unless it’s under $249. Ultimately, Gregory is responsible for loosing the business for Dorschel. I love deals but I also honor my words. Even if I went with Dorschel my net saving is merely $148 because of an extra payment for the Infiniti. With Vincent, the deal is for the end of July, just when my current lease ends. $148 is a premium I’m willing to pay any day to cut the bullshit.

After all, I have to confess that I got more of a kick out of going to Dorschel with the Vincent offer than getting a new Beetle all together. To top things off, I told Christian my Beetle story at work. He was pretty appalled by what happened and said he will have to investigate the Russian with his father-in-law, who happens to be the CFO of Dorschel automotives! So here you go. I’m not a negotiator; I’m just a hard sell. More often than not people who thinks I’m little and cute really has no idea who they’re dealing with! I’m warm and fuzz until you get on my nerves. Bullshitting me is really not good for your own good.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Freezing Point

60 degrees is cold for June even in Rochester. But nothing is colder than this fortress of lost souls where everything freezes over and time moves at a glacier speed.

Even though time stands still in my gray cubical, days fly by faster than a Boeing 747. I work from 9 to 6; I eat, I shower, I sleep. When my alarm goes off at 7:30am I rinse and repeat. I have enough work to keep me busy for less than a quarter of my day and for the rest of the time I stare blankly into my computer screen. Shelley tells people I’m the most efficient person here. I guess boredom is my reward.

Everyday I look up flights to distant destinations on Kayak.com. Surprisingly it’s not one of the blocked sites considering the restricted access to Fanadango, who’s actually one of Sutherland’s clients. I’m leading a so-called responsible life now where four-month long itineraries are no longer my options. Still, I constantly glance over my desk top calendar to plan out exotic trips in my head. I talked to Rose yesterday, or was it the day before, I loose track. It’s good to hear the voice from my pervious life once in a while. It reminds me that I was happy once. The party is not over yet. We’re going to pick up where we left off in Berlin or Paris or somewhere else more enticing for Christmas. I’m starting to get a little confused on why exactly I work here considering I can make almost same amount of money elsewhere in one eighth the time. Talking about efficiency.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cubical LIfe

Life changes like the weather in Rochester. Less than three months ago I was walking down the world’s widest street on a different continent. I was free. I had no obligations, no one to report to. My future was open. My possibilities were endless.

Nowadays I’m confined to a small cubical in the middle of a big blue room for most of my waking hours. Life is no longer the same. I now work for the Avaya program at Sutherland Global Services. My bosses are Marcia and Shelley. They are possibly the best people to work for and still, nothing quite compensates the fact that I can no longer feel the breeze in my hair while walking through the rose garden on a lazy afternoon.

Everyone grows up at some point. And by growing up we mean get a job, a husband, a house and a couple of kids. I used to detest the sentiment of conformity and the unbearable societal expectations. I still do. I despise people who think I was just a little girl, playing and wasting life away.

I traveled because I wanted to see the world. And by exploring the world I discovered myself. Everything I did contributed to who I am today. I’ve been the same person for as long as I could remember. I am still as daring and suborn as I was when I was three, oblivious to the pitfalls of life. Now I’m older and hopefully wiser. A certain level of realism or even cynicism is setting in. But I’m stronger, more confident now. I know for certain that I could get through whatever life throws at me.

Still, nothing will ever be the same again. And like a wild animal in a cage, I still long for the wilderness but I am begin to slowly accept the life that I am expected to live. I will never forget the thrill of flying in the air above the lush forest and vast ocean. Sometimes when I close my eyes I can still hear the wind.