“Ma’am, are you ok?” The salesman across the table asked as I paused from signing paperwork. My heart was racing and the room seemed to be closing in. “It’s ok. I’m fine. This is normal,” I force a smile and pick up my pen. It is normal, after all- normal for me.
Tim and I have been scanning the internet for months for used minivans. We set today aside to test drive the ones that stood out to us.
The first place we went had 3 cars on our list. The first van seemed promising as we test drove it, until we rolled the windows down and they wouldn’t go back up. We never got the second van off the lot because one of the sliding doors got stuck. I can’t even remember the third van, other than it made us return the keys quickly and sent us on a beeline to our car.
The next place had one van that we were very interested in. The salesman spun a tale about another couple being interested in it, but they were running to the bank to get their check, so if we wanted it now was our chance. They pulled it up front, and when we got in, the first thing we noticed was the overpowering smell of carpet shampoo that couldn’t quite overcome the overpowering smell of cigarettes. Tim opened the side door to look inside and the door wouldn’t close. We tried and tried, but it just wouldn’t. The salesman came over and offered the idea that there might be something stuck, but they would clean it out for us and treat it with some WD-40. The screeching sound of the door finally closing seconded his argument for the lubricant, but he assured us that he had a nicer van in the back that he would pull up. With a great deal of skepticism, Tim and I nodded and he drove off, water pouring out of the tail pipe. We looked at each other and once again beelined it to our car. We were long gone before the water stopped dripping from that van.
We drove slowly into the next lot. A salesman standing outside taking a smoke break waved at us and made his way to the car. Tim motioned him to his side and rolled down the window. We were greeted by a very gruff, (possibly inebriated), stereotype of a used car salesman. The stench of the cigarettes seemed to seep from him, and I held my breath as he talked to Tim. Tim listened to his spiel, walked into the sales office with him to see what they had, and within moments was back in the car speeding away from yet another defeat.
The next store on our list was an actual new car dealership with used cars on their lot. It was a little out of our way, but we decided to give it a try. We met with a salesman that clearly valued personal hygiene much more than our last encounter. He showed us a few options on the computer and then we narrowed down our test drive choices to five. Four were on par with each other in terms of price point, mileage, and age. One was slightly higher with significantly less mileage. We ended up test driving 4 of the 5 and liked them all! We debated about the pros and cons, sat in them all multiple times, talked through our expectations versus the realities of buying a used van. We scoured the Carfax reports and the dealer service records and in the end we chose the one with the least miles on it. This is a long term vehicle for us, so it made the most sense.
But naturally as we started signing the papers, I felt that familiar sense of panic I feel during any major life purchase, so when the poor salesman looked up, I’m sure he was convinced he was about to lose a sale! But knowing that the feeling would be hard to shake, I informed him that it was just fine, and that’s just how I would feel until we were completely done. I forced a smile and we finished the paperwork. Within about an hour the salesman was handing us the keys to our new-to-us minivan. At that point I could barely contain my excitement!! I have a van again! No more shoving three kids in the back of the Matrix like a Tetris puzzle! We have a van! The drive back to the new house was wonderful and I couldn’t be happier with our purchase. The kids came out to take a look when we got home and they all loved it too. They are looking forward to getting a ride in it tomorrow!