Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Minivan Woes

This morning the heat on my car wouldn't work. It sat "warming up" in my driveway for nearly 15 minutes and when the kids got in to head to school, I heard a non-stop flurry of complaints:

"I'm cold."
"It's freeeeeezing!"
"I can't buckle my belt. My hands are too cold."
"I thought Daddy fixed the heat."

I don't handle such complaints well because what they fail to acknowledge is the fact that I am not equipped with some magic inner heater that makes me immune to all temperature changes. I'm cold too dammit! I choose to keep such thoughts inside my head and take some deep breaths, bite my lip, and get the kids strapped in and ready for school. As soon as we start driving, Voila!, the heat kicks on and all is well with the world.

The first thing I did as I drove down the road was pick up my phone and call the huz to inform him of my problem. I try to steer clear of dramatics (I have a natural tendency TOWARD them--ask anyone) and simply tell him that his "fix" didn't take and that my car must be repaired. He tells me to take it to the mechanic. What? Mechanic?! He can't possibly be serious. A mechanic costs money and time, things that come at a premium in my world. When I stopped at my daughter's preschool and smoke poured out of the hood of my van accompanied by a toxic smelling odor, I decided to take his advice. The baby and I made a quick stop at the mechanic's on our way home. After a 45 minute onceover, I got the news. Some line between the heater in the engine and the heater in the back has a leak. This accounts for the smell and the smoke (actually steam). The cost to repair? About $400-450 with tax.

These are the kind of expenses that can send me running for the nearest Target, Visa in hand, ready to buy any and everything that might have that illustrious red "clearance" sticker on it. I am usually overcome with guilt by the time I reach the checkout line so I grab a Snickers to squelch that emotion. I'm just a picture of good health, aren't I? These are the habits that I am determined to break. Retail therapy and food are just not working for me anymore. So, instead of heading to Target, I took my broken van (it's still drivable and the part won't come in until Wednesday or Thursday) and I made my way home. The baby and I walked through the door, I took a little chunk out of savings and moved it to my checking account so it is there when I pay the bill and I took a moment to breath and put things into perspective.

The huz is great at helping me with perspective. All I need to do is think about his car and I am overwhelmed with grattitude for my broken down van. His car has 270,000 miles, no heat, no air, no radio, some jacked up windows and a terrible paint job. But he drives it every day to work, enjoys the 36 miles per gallon it gets, and never complains. He's no martyr--martyrs need recognition. He just wants his family to have one nice car so he makes that happen by dutifully driving his little trashdump on wheels.

So, I'll suck it up and pay the $400 and try not to complain. Then I'll do my best to enjoy the climate-controlled, radio-equipped, GPS-enabled luxury that is my broken down van from here on out.

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