My First Car: A Lesson Beyond Four Wheels

Fresh out of college with a bright future as a teacher ahead of me, I found myself on the threshold of another rite of passage: buying my first new car. My old ride, a trusty 2001 Ford Focus, had begun to showcase some transmission issues, and I wanted something reliable, efficient, and modern for my daily commute. With this in mind, I asked my boyfriend, Will, to accompany me to a local Honda dealership. We had no idea that this seemingly straightforward task would evolve into a lesson about societal prejudices.

car shopping couple

Entering the dealership, I was filled with a mixture of excitement and anticipation. Almost immediately, a balding, slightly overweight salesman in his early 50s approached us. His nametag read “Derek.”

“Good morning! Looking to buy a car, young man?” Derek directed his question squarely at Will, his gaze barely acknowledging me.

Before Will could respond, I interjected, “Actually, it’s for me. I’m interested in the Honda Civic.”

Derek raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Are you sure you don’t want something a little more… easy to handle?”

Ignoring the obvious condescension, I responded, “Yes, I’ve done my research, and the Civic fits my needs.”

He continued, pressing on with a smirk, “Do you know how to handle a manual transmission? They can be tricky for those not familiar.”

Will, sensing my growing frustration, tried to ease the tension. “She drove her old Ford Focus with a manual transmission without a hitch,” he shared, trying to assert my capability without overshadowing me.

Unfazed, Derek continued, “Well, the Civic comes with a lot of new technologies. Bluetooth, a Pandora interface, things that might be a bit… complex for some.”

I took a deep breath, trying to keep my cool. “I’m well aware of the features, and I’ve done my homework. I just need to decide between the trim levels.”

Throughout the conversation, Will’s face reddened, reflecting a mix of embarrassment and frustration at the salesman’s overtly sexist approach. He squeezed my hand gently, a silent show of support.

Not one to be easily deterred, I continued to ask pointed questions about the car’s specifications, ensuring Derek understood that I was not to be underestimated.

The test drive was the clincher. As I expertly maneuvered the Honda Civic LX Sedan through the city streets, shifting smoothly and making use of the “advanced” technologies, Derek’s earlier condescension was replaced with a begrudging respect.

By the end of our visit, the keys to a brand new Civic were in my hand. As we drove off the lot, Will turned to me, “You handled that brilliantly.”

Smiling, I replied, “Buying a car should be about the car, not outdated prejudices. Today was a reminder that stereotypes are just roadblocks, and I won’t let them dictate my journey.”

That day, I left the dealership with more than just a new car; I carried with me a rejuvenated sense of self-worth. While biases can crop up in the most unexpected corners, armed with self-assurance, knowledge, and the backing of a supportive partner, we can navigate beyond them to reach our goals.

See AlsoShopping for a Vehicle: Dealership vs. Online Buying

Adobe stock photo under license.

Bailey Eyard
Author: Bailey Eyard
Bailey Eyard crafts engaging consumer stories for a renowned regional publication. Holding a B.A. in Journalism from Seton Hall University, she is now advancing her studies with an M.A. in Marketing Communications at UNC Wilmington. Residing on North Carolina's Pleasure Island with her husband and trio of children, Bailey cherishes seaside moments with her loved ones and is passionate about windsurfing.

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