On getting the man-van

If there’s an easy way to do something and a really complicated, incredibly stressful way of doing something, we’ll go with the latter ten times out of ten. Really, that’s not true – but it certainly feels that way. For some reason we just keep finding ourselves entrenched in bizarro circumstances, that make my stomach turn and other people shake their heads at our craziness.

Like the whole ‘acquiring-a-new-vehicle’ business.

Most sane people would not sign up for selling their current car and acquiring a new one in  a ten day period of time, while on a trip to visit family. But we didn’t have much in the way of options, so that is the strategy we went with. I didn’t worry about it too terribly much, because strangely enough things tend to work out – even when it seems like they won’t.

But, when it was Tuesday night and we still didn’t have a car, and we were supposed to leave first thing Saturday morning? I started stressing a little. More so when it was Wednesday night, and Jason went out to a dealership with his dad and two brothers, only to come back with two options that were out of our price range. On Thursday I met a friend for lunch and she kindly took me to see her car man. Sadly he only had one minivan, which was also…out of our price range.

I headed back to Muncie, discouraged, but knowing I had to take both boys to a doctor’s appointment by 3pm. When I left the house at 2.50, Jason and our oldest son were nowhere to be found. Apparently he’d left me a note on the front door saying he was in Indy looking at a car. A note I didn’t see because I’d gone in through the garage. I went to the doctor’s fuming that he would either forget or be late.

Around 3.20, after the doctor had already seen our littlest one (diagnosis: ear infection), the elder Johnson men strolled in. Apparently they’d gone to look at a Volvo station wagon in Indianapolis. ‘The motor sounded funny, I think’ my oldest son declared. Luckily the doctor came back and checked out Johnson boy 1.

At 5.30 we went to look at yet another Volvo station wagon (a 1998 V70). Through chance, a friend had sent us the Craigslist listing. And, as it turned out, my mom knew the guy and his fiancee. How small IS Muncie? I was willing to go with the wagon, but Jason was not, let the record show. He was dismayed by a few cosmetic things and just couldn’t do it.

At 8.30 – less than 36 hours before we were to head back to Canada – we went and looked at a minivan. The listing was found in the newspaper by my mom. Jason had already taken a look, and driven it earlier that day. We took it for another spin. It was clean inside. The motor didn’t sound funny. The price was right.

We agreed to buy it. Which meant Jason and my mom had to go back on Friday morning at 9.30 with a check, then over to the license branch (twice – as it turns out, because I had to be there too since my name was on the title), then over to Marion (40 minutes away) for the loan paperwork. By 4pm (15 hours before our scheduled departure time) we had a van, with a license plate, and the necessary paperwork should the customs officials get snippy.

A 2002 Chevy Venture in the ubiquitous ‘beige’ color that all Chevy Ventures seem to be. It has cloth seats instead of leather. There is no sunroof. It is, shall we say, basic. We made a pact that we would say nothing negative about it from this point on, so I won’t.

I will say it held all our existing luggage, plus enough baby clothes to clothe triplets for a year, a baby swing, a boy’s bike, a small coat rack, and many other things. We used up 80 gallons of gas on the return trip and got 24 mpg. That’s better than a SUV.

Even if the stylish Canadian couple in their black Acura MDX gave Jason a pitying glance when he retrieved items from his overstuffed Clark Griswold mobile. As if to say ‘we will never go there.’

Oh, but you might.

6 thoughts on “On getting the man-van

  1. It’s only fitting you got a van since Griswold already made you go into the woods last December to cut down your own Christmas tree (or three).

  2. And by a few cosmetic details she means, leather peeling off of the doors, filthy carpets, and a strange smell i couldn’t place…. but I am pretty sure it was the smell of quiet desperation…

  3. I don’t know why you’re telling such elaborate lies. Just admit that you got a Hummer. Whats the big deal? You have (almost) 3 boys. What else are you supposed to drive? 🙂

  4. Jason, I think the ‘quiet desperation’ was coming from you – not the car. Vicky, can you imagine our gas bill if we HAD driven a Hummer? Though a much more stylish option….


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