Cars: Life is a Highway

Local business owners are the lifeblood of any community. They open stores, bake goods, run restaurants, fill inventory, sell products, and serve loyal customers. While chain stores are often necessary to our existence...I know I couldn’t live with my almost daily trips to Target...the small businesses we frequent give us a sense of kinship with the owners. They know our names. They ask about our lives. They realize that without us, they wouldn’t exist.

My father bought almost all of his cars at Hazelriggs in Decatur. He would look carefully at the invoice, haggle with Jim, argue the price of delivery, and then they would shake hands at the deal they both thought they had made. After I moved back to Decatur, dad gave me his car, a black Chrysler LeBaron he had bought at Hazelriggs in the late 80’s. The LeBaron once looked sharp, but the paint was peeling off the hood and the AC never did work. I kept bringing it in to the shop at Hazelriggs, and Jim would say, “What are you doing to this car, Christie?” I’d respond, “I don’t know, Jim. All I know is that the AC is blowing hot air. Do you think you can fix it?” The technicians would attempt to patch the leak, but it never did get totally repaired.

A few years later I traded in the old LeBaron for a used white Dodge Neon. I went to Jim without dad by my side. I wanted to broker this deal on my own. Jim kept saying, “You know, Christie, I’m losing money on this deal. I’m only helping you out because I’m friends with your family.” That little car served me well until the boys started playing hockey. One day I glanced in the back seat and all I could see were these huge hockey bags squishing my tiny sons, so I went back to Hazelriggs to look at minivans. I ended up purchasing a blue and gray used Ford Windstar the boys christened my “Sea World van," and once again Jim said, “You know, Christie, I’m losing money on this deal. I’m only helping you out because I’m friends with your family.” God, I miss haggling with that man.

The dealership now sits empty on Oakland. Jim passed away a few years ago and the business folded. There are other dealers in town, but after my red minivan experience at a certain establishment, I won’t go back to any of them. In fact, I bought my present car on the internet from a wholesale dealership in Dallas. I clicked, had a short conversation with a salesman, filled out some forms, and had it delivered to my driveway a week later. No haggling. No negotiating. No headaches. I wonder what Jim would have to say about that. “You know, Christie, I could have gotten you a better deal..."