25 June 2009

How I met Mini-E #339...

I took half-a-day off from my job (in Westchester) to pick up my Mini-E from Mini of Manhattan today. I left a little later than I wanted... then got stuck in traffic. (Traffic? In New York? During the mid-day? What was I thinking? Not, obviously.) And if I was going to make the usual 30-minute trip -- even though I left 15-minutes later than I liked... Well...

Anyway... I met my Mini-E "sales consultant," Catherine Clark, just slightly later than the 3 o'clock appointment we set-up last Monday. And this was our first "face-to-face" meeting -- even though we've known each other since January/February, when she called to let me know I was among "the chosen."

Catherine, in a word, is just super!!! She's been through this whole Mini-E leasing thing with nine other NYC pioneers already, so she's got it all down pat! The "paperwork" (the DMV stuff, the insurance papers, the checklists, the lease agreement... all the legal mumbo-jumbo, bureaucratic stuff I think everyone hates!) went like a breeze.

In short, she's GREAT!! (I regret that I didn't take her picture to share here... 'Cuz I'd certainly buy a car from her again and would recommend her to anyone looking to buy a Mini in metro NYC!)

Anyway, with paperwork -- and first payment ($1,901 including tax and tags.. Owie!! :-P ) -- all signed, done and accounted for... It was "time."

Time to meet "her." Wow... My heart was beating!!!

I'm really doing this, aren't I? I'm really now part of a very small group of people on a grand (hopefully) year-long experiment. I'm really committing myself contractually, financially... But... What will happen?? How will this Mini-E perform as my daily 60-mile (or thereabouts) roundtrip work commuter car? Will it be better than my current vehicle -- my very beloved red '97 Honda CR-V SUV -- which obviously has been a more than able (and cherished) daily driver?

Then, walking through the dealership's indoor garage... those "first steps" toward this year-long commitment...

Ooo... All those Minis!!! A sea of similar... "smallness" yet... So many colors... So many body styles... the squeal of virgin rubber tires on the garage's clean and painted concrete floors... the smell of new paint... the shine of freshly-polished and flawless metal surfaces... like mirrors...

But where's the one that's looks like pewter?? The metallic-gray colored body with the stylized plug on the roof? You know... ?? The one... that "special" one... The one with the unique "numbered badge" that signifies it belongs to me and only me??? (Well at least exclusively to me for a year...) And what was its number?

I kept hoping it was a "cool" number, like #111 that was given to Peter Trepp -- the first Mini-E lessee (a "pioneering pioneer?") on the West Coast. (See his blog: Peter's Mini E)

"911" would've been cool -- if there were more than 500 Mini-Es made. Of course, that meant the "lucky" Asian number ("888") was out, too. Ditto my birthday since I was born after May -- unless you write dates with the day in front of the month. (And I woulda been ok with that...)

All these thoughts were running in my mind... And just as I was thinking, "Nines... A number ending in '9'...." Catherine and I turn a corner and...

Catherine: "There she is, Paul."

My eyes quickly take in its "smallness"... its smooth curves... The low-key pewter color, broken by accents of very-noticeable green... And then I catch the small "scuttle" badge on its side...

Me: (Gasp...) "Nine... Three three nine... "
Catherine: "Something wrong?"
Me: "No... Just that I wanted, to some extent to be 'surprised' by my Mini's number..." (We had traded e-mails about practically all the other details of "my" Mini-E. But not its actual number -- the one that signified my "place" among the "pioneers." ;-))

Catherine: "Uh-huh... And....? You don't like this one...?"
Me: "No, no... Just... I mean... '3-39'... Mini-E... Mini-E-Threeeee-three-nine... "3-3-9... And she's alllllllll miiiinnneee!!!!"

We laughed and as we got in... into the one-and-only "3-3-9"... my 3-39... my Mini-E... I thought, "Yea... Here's to the start of an interesting next-12 months..."

Next up: How 30 minutes with Catherine in the 339 (my 3-3-9!) got me through my first 30 or so miles!

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