Thursday, April 24, 2008

4x4 disappointment

Since my husband's place of business is along a state highway, we have plenty of opportunities as we drive him back and forth to work to see cars that people have for sale along the side of the road. We've been keeping a sharpish eye on what's available, hoping to find something not too far gone to rust that would serve him as a work car. Because this business about being a one vehicle family? It is really hard.

Really hard. Mee's having to miss some teen activities because of schedule conflicts with dropping her off and picking my husband up from work. We've had to quietly cancel some other activities, simply because we can't drive my husband there and back every day he works -- it costs too much in gas and also in wear and tear on Poppy's Blazer.

But the worst is not being able to go to weekday Mass anymore. I miss it so much. Even on the days when I have the car, I can't go because Mass is usually just starting right at the time when he's supposed to be at work.

So imagine my delight when I saw a very elderly Isuzu Trooper sitting by the road with a For Sale sign in its window. It was one of those vehicles that just spoke to me; I felt an immediate affinity with it. It just looked so sportily preppy and you could see that there used to be ski racks on the roof and a bicycle carrier on the back. The day I got out of Buddy to look it over, I was amused to see an orange-and-black Princeton University sticker in the back window, faded and old. Do I know my preppy vehicles, or what?

The tires were good; the interior an old tannish tweed, but not torn, ripped or stained. It had a dignified yet jaunty air that I strongly identified with. My husband estimated that it was about a 1986 or '87, with a manual transmission. I loved it. I already felt like it was mine, especially since he looked up the Kelly Blue Book value on it and found that the Kelly Blue Book values don't even go back to 1986 or '87 and that a 1989 Isuzu Trooper in excellent shape should run about $780.

We were looking to pay about $500-$600, so I felt very hopeful.

My husband called up the telephone number that I'd written down on a scrap of paper and I lingered nearby, pretending to put dishes in the dishwasher and fold laundry and generally getting underfoot while I eavesdropped on his conversation.

It didn't go all that well.

My husband started out by saying, "Hi, I'm calling about the Isuzu Trooper along state road 38? Well, it says 'Make an Offer' on the sign, so I thought I'd call up and make one. I looked up the Kelly Blue Book value and it seemed like $500 or $600 would be fair, because it's a 1986 model, right?....Uh-huh......Oh.....Okay....I see....Well, that's definitely a lot more than we can offer you....No.....Well, I just need a dependable car to get to work and this looked to be in pretty good shape.....No, we can't offer that much....No....No, there's just no way....Listen, thanks for your time....Sure, sure.....No, I don't need to think it over. Good-bye."

I was terribly disappointed. I'd all but named this car and given Wimzie a ride in the back and hung a rosary from the rear-view mirror. Give it a little sprinkle with holy water for a heavenly blessing, and she would have been a done deal.

"What?" I asked my husband, my lower lip protruding slightly.

"Well," said my husband, his eyebrows raised and chin lowered in an expressive grimace of utter incredulity, "he said that he and his son-in-law bought it a year ago to use for deer hunting, but then the son-in-law bought a new truck just after they'd put all this engine work and new tires on the Isuzu, so this mad old coot is sticking firm to a $3000 asking price for this twenty-two year old vehicle with 123,000-plus miles on it."

"Everybody has to have a dream," I said, sighing. How's come, when you don't want one, the sides of the roads in our Hoosier state are littered with cars in the $500-$1,000 price range, but when you're in sore need of one, they dry up like a puddle in the sun?

So. No Trooper love for me.

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