I Wasn’t In The Market, But If You Insist…

When I was pregnant with O3, and only had S-then-1, I drove a really cool four-door Jeep Cherokee. It had a little suspension lift and modest off-road tires, a roof rack that conveniently carried our skis and kayaks, four-wheel drive (which I used often, baby) and a nifty trailer hitch. I drove that truck for about 7 years. I loved that truck. But when we found out baby #2 was on the way, we knew it was time to look for something a little more family-oriented, especially since only one carseat could fit on the back bench.

A few months before O was born, we sold the Jeep and bought a minivan. The quintessential now-you’re-really-a-parent purchase, I quickly learned why it’s the vehicle of choice for many American families. With large, sliding doors and a foldaway rear seat, I could easily maneuver squirmy bitty bodies into carseats and haul home the groceries without breaking a sweat.

Our minivan, which is now three years old to us (but 11 years old on paper), runs well, but there are a lot of little things wrong with it. Most of them are just annoying, like the rear brake adjustor that squeals for no apparent reason (even after it’s been taken apart three times and tweaked and oiled and who knows what else). Some of the flaws are cosmetic, like the lemonade I spilled in the back hatch and which seeped into a strange and hidden crevasse of carpet and then promptly turned to a staining mildew, until it was discovered months later (too late, of course). A few things are actually broken, like the busted passenger sliding door-handle, or the tape deck that is now a jukebox (literally: the kids put all the coins from the coin organizer into the tape slot). (And, yes, my van is old enough to have a tape slot.)

Still, I hadn’t considered looking for another van, not yet. I had pretty much planned to drive this van until it croaked, figuratively or literally. But then my mom called to say that she and her husband were thinking of doing the patriotic thing and buying a new car. DH and I rolled our eyes at each other when we heard this. Her van is a 2005; mine is a 1999. Why she thought I would be sympathetic to the idea was beyond me.

But then she asked us if we were interested in buying her old van. Here was something we hadn’t even considered. And while it seemed silly at first, the idea grew on us, and we carelessly poked around at prices and values and Consumer Reports reviews and the like. But in the end, we decided that the blue book value (our price, should we accept) was a fair deal, but not a good deal, and with DH having some of his work hours cut back it seemed frivolous. We thanked my mom for asking us, but declined.

This morning, at approximately 9:32 AM, my mom called to say that they had found a new van and were going to purchase it. They had planned to trade in her 2005 van, but she wanted to check again to see if we were interested in it before they did. The price to us this time around was significantly less than blue book value, since she was now going by what the dealer was offering them for their trade. I told her DH and I would discuss it and said I would call her back.

At approximately 10:15, we called her back to ask a few questions about maintenance issues, logistics of getting it up here from Florida, etc. We said we would discuss some more. I asked her when she needed to know for sure. “Oh,” she said casually, “DH will be back around noon and we’re headed over to the dealership then.”

Well, shoot.

Normally I would just refuse to make any sort of decision like this in such a ridiculously short amount of time. But this deal was thousands of dollars less than a comparable van would sell for. Not only that, but we knew the history of the van (seeing as it’s my mother’s and all). We’ve driven the van. We know more about it than any other used vehicle we might look at. And our current van is in pretty sad shape, even though it runs well. We waffled. We wavered. We discussed. We ate breakfast.

Finally, at noon, I called her back to say we were interested. If things worked out on her end, we would like to do it. She said she would let us know after she talked with her DH, the bank and the dealership.

I didn’t think very much about it this afternoon, to be honest. We went on some errands, did some chores, started dinner. Then at 5:30 my mom called to say we were the proud owners of a 2005 Chrysler Town & Country.

Hoo boy.

So I asked her how she wanted to handle getting the van up here. I figured they would drive it up in August, when they were already planning to visit anyway. “Oh,” she said casually, “I’m leaving Saturday morning to drive it up there.”

Well, shoot.

So my mom is coming in on Sunday at some point to bring me my new van, which is very exciting, albeit very sudden and spur-of-the-moment. The girls are very excited about buying Nana’s van, because, well, because it’s Nana’s, and anything that belongs to or belonged to Nana or has anything to do with Nana whatsoever is extremely exciting for them in any case.

I have already promised DH I would not spill any lemonade ANYWHERE, and the children have been banned from using markers or stickers in the new vehicle (seeing as there is evidence of both markers and stickers in quite a few places in the old van, this seemed prudent). I find it amusing and sweet that hubby is more concerned with me trashing the inside of the van than he is with me wrecking the outside of it. That says something very significant about our relationship, I’m sure.

Oh- and to my friend L, if you are reading this and wondering whether or not I cut-and-paste most of this blog post from my earlier email, the answer is yes, and while it has been edited for content and privacy the truth is I was just too damn lazy to retype the whole thing after writing it once already, so sorry about all that. But you get what you pay for, ya know?

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