Monday, February 4, 2008

Car Woes

(Spell check doesn't seem to be working on Blogger lately. I do my best, but I apologize in advance for any glaring spelling errors ; )

We need a new car. Not a "new" new car, but an "old" new car. We've only bought three brand new cars in the course of our 23-year marriage, and don't ever intend to do it again. Can you say "waste of money", boys and girls? At least it is for us. We drive our cars until they die. It was no different this time.

Our '93 Toyota has 250,000 miles on it. It has never needed a major repair. Last year, it started working sporadically--years after the A/C, sunroof, and front passenger window stopped operating. A few months ago, the antennae snapped and the exterior driver side door handle broke. We can still open the door, but it looks like we're trying to break in. I don't worry about anyone calling the police because one glance at our car will convince them that not even the most desperate car thief would want to steal it.

Last November, my husband started shopping for a used car. We consulted with my brother, who knows everything mechanical, and decided on either a used Volvo or Lexus (each between certain years that I can't remember). My husband looked at all of those and other models of used cars. Some were just too expensive (over $14,000). We didn't want to spend more than $10,000. Then, in December, we discovered that good friends of ours were selling their 2000 Toyota mini-van for Blue Book value, which was far less than 10K. They agreed to let us buy it after they found a replacement vehicle first. However, they couldn't locate a car that they both wanted and told us last week that they'd have to keep the van for a while. Evidently, it wasn't meant to be.

My husband was using our car daily, even though it wouldn't start sometimes after he'd turn off the motor. Last year, he ran out of tows with AAA and they let him use mine. However, the car wouldn't start at all about three weeks ago. My son fixed the problem (in the gear shift box--or something or the other), but than it stopped working altogether. We figured that we'd just let it be because we thought we'd be buying a replacement vehicle soon.

Meanwhile, we had promised the jalopy car to other friends of ours (I have to be careful--they read my blog), who would like to have it, warts and all, if the repair to get it going isn't too much. This was thrilling for us because it would be useful to someone else when we no longer needed it. So now, they are waiting patiently for us to find our replacement.

But let's get back to my favorite subject--ME! How has this affected ME? Now my husband uses MY 12-seater van for business. Not only is that a royal waste of gas, but it prohibits ME from going anywhere. The kids sometimes get rides to where they need to go, but that leaves ME stuck here all day, everyday. Last week, I got to go shopping, but I had six kids and a new dog with ME. If I have a meeting, like the women's fellowship group that I belong to, it has to be here. So, who runs around like a mad woman, throwing toys, laundry, and kids into strategic hiding places? ME. Who cleans up after the meeting? ME.

If being stranded without a car happened at our previous house, I would have gone mad. Being in a development has it's advantages. Space is not one of them. I would look out my window and see one house looming to my left, another to my right, and one behind me. I would feel like I was suffocating. If I had been stuck in the house for more than a day or two back then, I would pounce on my husband when he walked through the door and say, "I'm going driving. I need to get out!"

Not here. There is so much space where we live now that, if I have the urge to "escape", I merely look out my window. I ignore the baby pulling at my clothes, the toddler screaming, the older kids debating who finished first, and my teenager's loud Christian music. I grasp my cup of The Original Pancake House decaf for dear life as my soul soars over the vineyards, citrus groves, and now green fields. It's so green from the recent rains that I imagine it looks like Ireland--or Oregon, at the very least. Then my mind meanders to my favorite subject (besides myself) and, when I view all this vacant land, I can't help but try to determine its value and wonder how many houses can fit on it.

However, the worst part about not having a car at my beck and call is when we're clean out of food and my kids get the munchies before my husband arrives with the groceries. My toddler writhes in despair if we don't have any apples. You'd think that I just told her that her birthday had been cancelled. My older kids ask me incessantly when their dad is getting home with the food. I ran out of organic steel cut oats last week. For two days the kids had organic rolled oats for breakfast, instead. How dare I?! Then, when I thought it couldn't possibly get any worse, I ran out of tortillas and sharp cheddar cheese! Oh, the agony of not having quesadillas for lunch! I had to cook the emergency frozen breaded chicken strips from Costco, instead.

Since my husband will be driving the car daily, he's the one who needs to pick it out. I imagine he'll be doing that soon, since the only items left on his to-do list are fulfilling business orders, cold calling, preparing Quick Books for our CPA, attending meetings, playing with the kids, chopping wood, and entertaining moi. Yep, he'll be driving that new old car in no time!