The Man-Van…part 2

As we were driving through Minnesota en route to hoosierland, we sped past a UPS truck on the side of the road with a for sale sign posted in the front. ‘Let’s get that,’ Jason suggested enthusiastically. ‘You’d rather drive a UPS truck than a minivan,’ I asked incredulously. Sometimes he really is too much. ‘Yeah,’ came his (duh) reply. ‘We could put couches in the back and a tv…maybe even some sand for the boys to play in,’ he dreamed wistfully.

Picturing the four five of us driving around in a refurbished UPS truck is certainly amusing, but not anything I care to do in actual, real life. Though, had I known how cumbersome it is to find a decent, (cheap) minivan….I might have gotten on board with the UPS plan.

On Tuesday Jason spent a few hours driving around Indianapolis looking for a suitable vehicle. In my mind I thought he was going to come back with a car. Instead, he came back a disgruntled individual. Apparently his experience with (used) car salesmen had been a bit challenging. Call me ‘unrealistic’, but I was sure that in the span of two hours he should have been able to pick out a van we could take back to Calgary.

Until I went with him to the car dealerships the following morning.

I realize times are tough for all industries, but car salesmen are literally standing outside the doors of dealerships waiting to pounce on anyone who enters the parking lot. And, for some reason, they’re all wearing blue or black polo shirts. At our first stop, we were approached by a veteran salesmen who introduced himself as ‘Stan-the-Man’. Like it was the name his parents had bestowed upon him at birth. Fortunately, when he introduced himself to me, he used his first name only, dropping the descriptor. He must have sensed I’m a mean, cynical individual who would scoff at such a silly nickname. (Of course, he didn’t sense that Jason is equally mean and cynical….)

We test drove a Chevy Venture Jason had looked at the previous day, that fit within our mileage and budget parameters. Since we have never, ever, shopped for a car together it is little wonder the experience was less than enjoyable. It’s one thing buying a car you’re excited about, it’s another – buying a car because you ‘have to’. And it’s another thing entirely when you’re trying to be as cheap as possible about it. As Jason put it: ‘I don’t find it hard acting like a disinterested customer….because I am disinterested (in buying a minivan).’

So we left the car dealership in a champagne colored Venture and drove around Indianapolis for a few minutes. Complete rookies (idiots). What are you supposed to look for when you buy a used car? I turned on the heat and the air conditioning, feeling like I was pretty clever for thinking of those things. We tested the side doors and the radio – even though we drove a car for two years that had no radio whatsoever. Jason looked under the hood of the car – because it seemed like a grown up thing to do. ‘I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be looking for,’ he announced. Well, I didn’t have any ideas either. Cleanliness?

We made fun of the ‘leather’ seats. ‘These must be from the same leather as those leather coats you can buy in Mexico for super cheap.’

Next, we tried a Chrysler Town and Country which was a bit more expensive, despite the utter absence of leather of any kind. It definitely had a bit more zip to it, but Jason worried the DVD player that had been haphazardly attached to the car ‘ceiling’ would come crashing down at any minute, bringing the car ceiling with it. (Perhaps there is a more technical term than ‘car ceiling’, but I’m not aware of it.)

After the Town and Country we tried out a Honda Odyssey that was called ‘green’ even though it was grey, at best. Given the ubiquitousness of the Odyssey, I honestly thought it would be the van we would drive back to Canada. Despite the fact that I pretty much hated the particular cloth used on the seats. But there was no denying this particular vehicle drove like a dinosaur, gas guzzling SUV – at best.

How long did it take to test drive a grand total of 3 minivans? About two and a half hours. Why? Because, (used) car salesmen move slower than sloths. And I have no idea why. Between trying to find the key for the particular minivan we wanted to drive, figuring out where the car was on the lot, making a copy of your driver’s license and bringing a dealer license plate to temporarily attach to the back, and looking up information on the antiquated sheets of paper they’re carrying with them, it took forever.

Having not had any luck in Indianapolis, we decided to head back to Muncie. But not before driving through Middletown, USA to visit a car dealer that had been recommended by one of my mom’s friends. I kept our sleeping baby company in the car, while Jason headed out into the rain to ask the salesman if he had anything in our price range. I didn’t even bother looking around to see what they had available – such was my level of enthusiasm by that point.

Jason came back to the car with a determined look on his face. ‘Let’s test drive this one,’ he said. ‘What is it,’ I asked suspiciously. ‘A Chevy Astro’ he replied. Well, I may not know much about the mechanics of cars, but I have a surprising knowledge of names of different models and what they all look like. And I knew darn well I had zero interest in driving a Chevy Astro. And Jason knew darn well I had zero interest in driving a Chevy Astro. Particularly a white Chevy Astro.

But he saw an opportunity to injure my pride and took it. Loading me and my now-awake-baby into the van. With, admittedly, cushy leather seating. But even the Hen knew better. ‘Do you like this,’ Jason asked our tiny car arbiter. ‘No’ came his emphatic reply. The kid is a total genius of course.

The thing drove like a tank. And, sitting inside it, I felt like we were in a slightly lesser version of an RV or, at least, a conversion van. I kept looking around for a stewardess to tell me where the exits were.

We drove it for about 1 minute before turning it around and returning it to its black polo shirt, gold chain bracelet wearing babysitter.

Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick

4 thoughts on “The Man-Van…part 2

  1. I just talked to a friend of mine who bought a Honda Odyssey for $6400!! So, I know they are out there! Thought her story might encourage you 🙂

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