6:25 p.m., Thursday, January 29. I’m just about to leave the garage at my condo to go pick Jeff up at the Metro. The garage doors open and a red car–is that a Prius?–drives in. I circle around and see that it is, and it’s pulling into the parking space of my ex and still good friend Jay, who owns a condo in the same building. I drive up behind the car as he’s getting out; the sales sticker is still pasted to the passenger-side window. I roll down the window. “You didn’t…” “Yep.” He did.
I knew Jay was planning to get a Prius. After all, just three weeks ago he stopped by my condo to pick my brains about the car and the local Toyota dealers I’d considered. He has a long commute to work, and like my boss wants the advantage of being able to drive in the HOV lanes. A week later–just two weeks ago–he told me that he’d put in his order.
So what happened? Here I was just last night making a minor rant about the Toyota corporation, concerning the waiting time for the Prius–three months and counting for me–but at the same time defending Toyota dealers in a separate comment. Well less than 24 hours later, though, a friend pulls up with a new Prius after having ordered one only two weeks ago. Turns out that while I’ve been waiting for my dealer to get back to me when they get to my name on the list, Jay’s been actively calling all the dealers in the area; today he reached one that had just received a new Prius that the person who ordered decided not to take. So they sold it to Jay; apparently they didn’t contact the next person on their waiting list, but sold it to someone who just happened to call them and ask for it.
Now, it wasn’t my dealer, but I was still pretty pissed. Not at Jay, though he thought I would be–it’s not his fault that some dealerships don’t play fair, and I’m happy that he benefitted from it. And it also wasn’t the option package I wanted anyway, but rather the more limited package I was told in November I could probably get within a couple of weeks. So maybe there really wasn’t anyone else waiting for a Prius who wanted this one. But I did have a strong visceral reaction, at first almost angry enough to call and cancel my own order. But really I wouldn’t send any kind of message to Toyota, or hurt anyone but myself by doing that; there are plenty of people waiting who would snap up my car when it finally arrives. I have sent an email to my dealer, though, asking what their own policy is for distributing cars when the person who ordered it decides not to take delivery.
The most shameful truth, though, is that part of the reason I was upset was that I had made the decision first, months ago, and Jay only recently decided to buy a Prius. And yet now everyone will see mine showing up in a month or two and think that I was a copycat. Yes, it’s not an adult reaction. No, I don’t really care what the other people think and, frankly, I bet no one will even give it a thought. But it still went through my mind. I wanted to be special with my car, at least for a couple of months. I think Gene would understand.