I wanted to wait until my minivan was actually mine before I posted this. It’s been a while since I picked the van up from the dealership, just over a month now. This has been a two month long endeavor, though, and it deserves to be described as the saga it was.
For anyone living under a rock, our economy has been a rollercoaster of sorts, and one of the issues that arose was the chip shortage that rocked the auto industry (read here if you want to know more). I would have bought a van much earlier if I had considered how far the reaches of the pandemic would travel.
When we considered trading in my truck we discussed a myriad of reasons, but ultimately three reasons tipped the scales. 1) We wanted to have something easier to maneuver. It was hard to get a kid in and out of the middle seat in the truck. 2) We wanted more interior space – the truck bed was great but things in it tend to get wet in rain or snow, even with a cover. 3) We needed more seats. Honorable mention goes to making the most of our trade in. Due to the chip shortage, used cars are fetching great prices right now, and it seemed like the best time to make the switch.
I picked out the van I thought was the best fit, picked out the level of trim, talked over the budget with my husband, and we decided it would be a good fit all around. I found a dealership, and we went to get the van.
It sounds so simple, but from start to finish the process was two long months. That’s right. Months.
I selected a van that was supposedly arriving that day, June 25th. They told me it was delayed (again, chip shortage) and it would instead be there between July 8-14th. If I wanted to, though, I could put down a deposit and sign the finance paperwork. This would secure the price of my trade in and make sure the vehicle I wanted didn’t get sold to anyone else. I figured, this van is exactly what I want, and the deposit is refundable. Good deal. So that’s what we did.
July 14th came and went, with no word on the van’s arrival. I do understand things happen, and I was trying not to be impatient. On the flip side, it’s not unexpected to want updates when things aren’t on schedule. Alas, no one from the dealership bothered to contact me, I had to call for updates.
On July 26th, a month after purchase, my van finally arrived. Finally this is done, I thought. I was wrong.
It is now August 27th and my bank hasn’t received a payoff from my trade-in, and I have had two payments drafted for the truck since first signing the paperwork for the van. Why am I still paying, you ask? That truck note is still in my name, affecting my credit, and I don’t want late or non-payments on my credit report. I still don’t have the information on how to pay for the van I bought, either. I did finally get the registration sticker, so it’s registered to me. Yay?
I have to say, as far as dealerships go, this was definitely the worst experience I’ve had. I’m sure it’s a perfect shitstorm of circumstances, they had great reviews from plenty of other people, but I’ve never had such bad luck trading in a car before. 10/10 do not recommend trading in a vehicle during a pandemic.
When I bought the truck back in 2019, we were a family of four, and my husband had a vasectomy on the books. Two months after I bought the truck, my positive pregnancy test had me measuring the back seat to see if I would be able to fit a third car seat. What were the odds? If only I’d had a crystal ball that February…
I could write a comparison of the two vehicles, something I originally set out to do, but that would just remind me of all the things I miss about my truck. And while the minivan ultimately has what our family needs most overall, it doesn’t give me what I really loved about my truck; the illusion that I still have control over how my family unfolds. Now, that control really resides with my kids. Three small humans who, for better or worse, will dominate the next decade or two of my life as they each become their own person.
Maybe the truck was my last ditch effort to feel “cool” or relevant. I’m not actually sure. I attribute some complicated feelings to my truck, feelings which shouldn’t be attributed to a vehicle because it’s not the purpose of a vehicle.
I think what the truck represented to me was a form of freedom. My choices aren’t my own now, I have to choose what’s best for my three boys. Motherhood – parenthood, in fact – is largely about making good choices for someone who can’t make them yet themselves.
The truck was fun, but it wasn’t the best choice for my children, for our family. At the end of the day, what’s important isn’t the height of the truck or its ability to haul things, or the interior flexibility of the space in the van and its “magic doors” (my son’s words). It’s the recognition that I’m not choosing those things only for me. Just like in pregnancy, when the food I ate or activities I participated in were choices for two people, not just me. I chose that with the same crystal clarity as I chose my husband when I said “I do.”
Yes, some choices are my own. This blog is mine, my running, the books I read and write, the items I knit or crochet. All mine. But my life doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and ultimately all those choices affect my family. So I choose what’s best for them. Because I choose love. And if love looks like a haze grey minivan with more room for my kids to grow and fit all their stuff, then I choose the minivan.
“We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” – Albus Dumbledore in The Goblet of Fire (Book 4 in the Harry Potter series) by J.K. Rowling