Putting the Net to Good Use

My best friend wanted to buy an Audi S6 station wagon, but didn't get it done before all the dealers in his area (New York City) were out of them. The limited production model had been discontinued, but he didn't have that old sense of urgency New Yorkers are supposed to have (I've lived in California for over ten years and feel urgently about nothing!).

At his request, I trolled around through auto sites on the web, called Audi dealers on the West coast, and found nothing. Even had some dealers laugh in my face. They could sell more if they had them.

My friend also got into using the web for this purpose, visiting Audi-related sites all over the world, calling dealers up and down the East coast, checking out the Edmunds site, etc. Way, way beyond what i did. Still, nothing.

Basically, the car is gone!

Finally, a couple of months ago, he bought a Volvo wagon. Nice car, really safe, but nothing like the Audi (I drive an S4 sedan so i know he's right on this).

A week or so ago he received a call from an Audi dealer in Boston. Seems someone had just traded in their S6 Sedan to buy the new Audi A8 Sedan (a mean machine if you want a living room on wheels with quattro drive!). The car had only 6,000 miles, three-year Warranty and no-maintenance-charges-till-50k miles. Would he be interested?

My friend called me for an opinion. The car, while expensive, is worth it. In addition, he never buys anything totally frivolous for himself. Nothing he really wants. Still, there is a new Volvo wagon sitting in his driveway and this is a lot to pay for a car he'll mostly drive to the cleaners every Saturday. How much car do you need for that??

So, I told him to wait. "There will be more great Audis," I said, and we ran through all the other reasons. It was pretty compelling. He agreed with me, or so I thought.

The next day he called me and started reading a URL to me. I typed it in. It had a .za ending. Is that South Africa? South Africa!!

The home page comes up and he tells me where to click. Click and wait. Click and wait. Finally, we end up on a page ...


My friend is brilliant. He's serious, not frivolous at all. I've tried to get him on line to check out what I'm working on, etc., but no go. He had to have a real reason to do this. Hell, he didn't even buy a computer until early this year so his CPA wife, mother of his two beautiful daughters could use the thing to do the taxes. And he still blames me for telling him to get an Apple Macintosh (for the kids, the kids!!!) now that Apple is going out of business...

...where this gorgeous Audi station wagon appears. It's an Audi Avant RS2, the results of a special joint-project between Porsche and Audi (I know they're the same company, but the freakin' thing has a Porsche emblem and an Audi emblem on it!!!). Damn thing goes from 0 to 100km in 5.4 seconds! A rocket wagon with Quattro!! It's not available in the States, and won't be for awhile. And it may never be available with a stick. But there it is. Evidence that Audi is on the case!

Soon it becomes apparent that, despite the decision we made the day before, despite all the discussion and analysis, this newly found information, the emblem above and car below, is what finally convinces him to wait. Better days are, indeed, coming.
An awesome combination of space, power and luxury. The RS2 Avant is the family estate car with one unique difference: it was designed jointly by Audi and Porsche. Suddenly a whizz down to the shops becomes a thrilling experience as you accelerate from 0 to 80km/h in a mere 3.9 seconds.
You need this to pick up the dry cleaning??

I can see it now. He and I will take our families on a cruise to South Africa (you can get there by boat, can't you?) where we'll hob nob it with Nelson and the Mandelas and tool around the countryside in his new mean machine. He'll be upset when I refuse to let him drive me to Soweto in that thing (but only because I insist on driving there).

And when the trip is over, the car will go on a boat and eventually make it to the port of Newark, New Jersey (my home town and a great place to be from!) And he'll have his car. And all will be well. And he won't get back on the internet in a serious way until he really needs to.

Which is exactly why, despite all the hype on MSNBC and elsewhere, there's nothing compelling about the net. At least, not yet...

Earlier this evening, MSNBC's cyber-curmudgeon and Howard Beale impersonator, Cliff Stoll, delivered an on-air column on telecommuting while typing on a portable computer as he sat, presumably naked as a jaybird, in his bathtub. Guess you can't have the hype without anti-hype!. In addition to thinking that Stoll's segment is overreaching, you'll have to forgive me when I say that that was one skinny looking white boy...

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