Mazda mania!

Car salesman sells new car to woman with bipolar disorder who only came in to have the oil changed in the other, six-month-old, car she bought from them. But she was in a manic state, and easily persuaded to buy a whole new car she totally didn't need.

Hilarity, and a lawsuit, ensue.

There's some pretty good discussion board fodder for the Capitalistas and the Weenies right there, eh?

(And let's not forget the burgeoning population of people who decide they must be mentally ill because that'll make them cool and important. They're usually well represented in Internet discussions concerning any of the diseases they wish they had.)

I was going to post this as a comment on the Jalopnik page, but it grew into something post-worthy by itself, at least according to the low standards of the Department of Unwelcome Education.

I am, in brief, on the side of the unfortunate purchaser. But not for the simple weenie-ish reasons you might think.

Very, and uncharacteristically, unwise financial decisions are almost diagnostic of a manic state.

A person suffering from full mania is quite likely to feel like the king of the world. Able to take on any project, tackle any problem, speak wisely on any subject. And, of course, pay back any debt. So "suffering" is often not really the appropriate word - you're high as a kite, and it doesn't cost you a penny or involve any illegal drugs.

Until you start buying new cars, having unprotected sex with strangers, buying illegal drugs, et cetera.

(Traditional mania-driven car purchases lean more towards the red-convertible end of the market than the seven-seat Mazda SUV in this story, but I suppose there's no accounting for taste.)

If you can avoid the believing-you-can-fly kinds of behaviours, and the more obnoxious stuff that's likely to lead to people locking you up somewhere, full-blown mania is arguably the best drug in the world. It's a shame that, in bipolar disorder, mania is usually followed by full-blown clinical depression. But what can I say. God's a bastard.

OK, sure, say the Capitalistas. Crazy lady bought car for crazy reason. But lady's craziness is not the car dealer's fault.

And, indeed, car salesmen are not expected to be able to tell whether the bright and bubbly individual who just decided to buy a car on the spur of the moment is entirely in their right mind or not. Let's face it, buying a new car is seldom a very sane act in the first place.

Salesmen also shouldn't - and, generally, don't - sell cars to people who're obviously in a severely mentally compromised state.

(The mildly compromised are still welcome, and may be the mainstay of the pickup-truck market.)

But there's seldom any way for an average Joe to tell the difference between someone who's in a manic state and someone who really is just a very (I might go so far as to say insufferably) positive person, who is well able to afford what they're buying.

The sparse Associated Press version of this story doesn't give many facts to go on. There's a bigger version in the Detroit News, here. Assuming it's correct, after the buyer sobered up (as it were), her husband took back the car and the dealer agreed to rip up the contract, on receipt of a doctor's letter confirming the buyer's condition.

Said letter was then delivered. And then the dealer changed its mind, and "redelivered" the car.

If this is accurate, then the dealer is pretty clearly in the wrong, although they were not necessarily in the wrong - legally or ethically - for selling the car in the first place.

Now let's see how long it takes for this case to end up in one of those "Stella Awards" lists.

6 Responses to “Mazda mania!”

  1. peridot Says:

    Have you seen Stephen Fry's two-part series on (his) bipolar disorder? Shopping sprees seem to be very much par for the course.

  2. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Yes - it's The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive (not to be confused with The Secret Life of Machines :-), and I'd give it about four stars out of five.

  3. theirishscion Says:

    This all rings horrifyingly true to me. My ex went through 4 cars in the 4.5 years we were together, usually buying the new one while at the dealership waiting to have the most recent crash damage hammered out of the old car. I actually got stuck with the last one after we spilt (she took to self medicating with some fairly unsavory friends and some even more unsavory substances. The car was financed under my name so I thought it prudent to retrieve it and now I’m stuck with a honking great Ford Explorer that I neither need nor want, and a monthly payment such as would loose the very bollocks of the mighty bull elephant) She was actually released from jail last night following a 4.5 month stay for two counts of possession, which rather highlights some of the flaws in both mental healthcare and the frankly perverse drug laws in the USA. Let’s take a profoundly mentally ill woman with a concomitant drug problem and fix her by locking her up with a bunch of other ill addicts and criminals for half a year. Yeah, that’ll do the chuffing trick. Golf, anyone?



  4. raywert Says:

    Methinks coke or meth could make you feel the same as dementia. Should we let them off the hook too? Just askin'... ;)

  5. Daniel Rutter Says:

    If we agree to let them off the hook, then yes, we should let them off the hook.

    The point here is that the dealership (allegedly) agreed to call off the deal, then went back on their word.

    And, of course, those who take recreational drugs are voluntarily changing their behaviour, and should therefore take some responsibility for what they do while high. You're likely to know if you tend to do bad crazy things when you get very high; the solution to that problem is to not get very high any more.

    It's letting the side down, after all. Any number of people take powerful stimulants, laugh their asses off and go about their day, without waking up to find their congregation deserting them over revelations from gay hookers.

    It is my considered opinion that most people who insist that drugs change them into a whole different person are lying.

  6. techne Says:

    Raywert, dementia is not the right term if you mean to use it to describe this woman's behavior. (also, schizophrenia is not "multiple personalities", which I say not because you said it but because it's another common misuse.)

    Daniel, it seems like your last comment is contradictory (unless I'm missing some sarcasm someplace). There is no bright line between drug abusers and more "involuntarily" mentally ill people, especially considering how many bipolar people could be considered "responsible" for their manias because of noncompliance with their drug regimens. This is an extremely common problem with bipolar disorder as any clinician can tell you.

    More philosophically, if you accept a medical model of bipolar disorder that partially absolves people of responsibility for their behavior, why not also accept a medical model of drug abuse? Under such a model, that many people are exposed to drugs but few become abusers is ascribed to similarly uncontrollable biological factors and is not purely a personal weakness, as your "voluntarily" implies.

    I agree that this case is pretty clear, though. The underlying issue in this story is the contract dispute, and the responsibility question is not as much of a factor.

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