Why I Love My Minivan Money Pit
As I sat waiting for the mechanics to finish draining my wallet once again, I pondered the life choices that lead me down the path toward this infernal minivan. I gnashed my teeth and audibly groaned. Then I drove the kids home from school and reaffirmed my love for our cursed carriage.
I’d been at the auto shop for more than an hour when the mechanic finally approached me. His team had finished its diagnostic and had a quote ready for recommended repairs. The mechanic was old, almost elderly, and had a calm demeanor that I liked. I got the impression he wasn’t a pushy salesman-type who was going to try to convince me my transmission was on its deathbed.
“Yes, sir, you’re gonna need four new tires. Then you’ll need alignment. Plus all four brake pads are shot…” He went on and on, going into great detail about why each of the repairs was necessary. When he finally gave me the total estimate, I felt a wave of panic. If I were a cartoon character, my eyes would have bulged way out of my head.
“I’ve done all of this in the past year or two,” I told him. “What about the warranties I purchased when I bought this set of tires and the pads?”
“Yes, sir, I factored those in to the total.”
Then I took out my phone. “I think I saw some coupons on your company’s app.”
“Yes, sir, I added several coupons to each of the items we recommended.”
I gave a long exhale. “Well, it’s got to get done,” I said.
He must have sensed I was bummed because he said, “Yeah these minivans can be a real maintenance pain in the neck. It’s just a design flaw. Nothing you can do about it.”
I appreciated that he was trying to cheer me up. But it wasn’t doing much good. In the three or four hours it took to complete the work, I had plenty of time to ponder the life choices that had brought me to this point:
Why did I buy a minivan?
Why do I waste time at night YouTubing football games rather than learning how to replace shocks and struts in my own garage?
Should I go back to school and take night classes on mechanical engineering?
The mechanics finished with my van just in time for me to pick up the kids from school. By then, the only lingering question in my head was why I’d bought this cursed vehicle.
I pondered this question as I ran errands with the kids, who were particularly rowdy. It had rained all day, so both recess and gym class were held indoors. The kids had a lot of pent-up energy. The funny thing was, their rowdiness wasn’t bothering me like it usually did. And I quickly realized it was because I was in Laurie’s van rather than my Jeep.
The Jeep has a front and back seat, while the van has a front, middle, and back row. From the driver’s seat of the van, the distance to a hyper child in the middle row is approximately four feet; a hyper child in the back row is approximately seven feet away. In my Jeep, the distance from the driver’s seat to three children crammed in the backseat with a tablet with 1% battery is, at most, three feet. This is just simple math.
I may have spent all day at the mechanic, drinking cup after cup of the worst coffee in the world, and playing Subway Surfer on my phone. I may have dropped four figures on the same vehicle I’d dropped the same amount on less than a year ago. But the din of “Quit kicking me” and “I’m hungry” and “Tell him to quit it!” was more distant as I drove home. So, ultimately, the day was a success.