One of the lovely parting gifts that Big Daddy left me with was the vehicle I drive to this day. It's a 2000 Ford Excursion.
I remember this was one of Big Daddy's "impulse" buys...it must have been about 10:00 one night when he came rolling into the driveway with this lovely white beast. Big smile on his face, a bunch of papers stacked up on the seat next to him. He had convinced his dad to co-sign a $25,000.00 loan, one of the many things that we'd pay off with his next big bonus check. Uh huh.
In his defense, we did need a new car. We were a family of six now, and our old Plymouth mini-van was in sad, sorry shape. Parts of the outer shell kept falling off, the side door wasn't functioning, and the engine would overheat if the outside temps were above 80 degrees. To this day, my kids love recalling one drive home from the zoo on a hot summer day, mommy sobbing at the wheel, terrified kids wailing in their car/booster seats as steam billowed out from under the hood. I remember shrieking "WE'LL BE OK!!!!!" as we drove down the highway like a modern day Clampett family. Good times.
So I was happy to have a safe, cushy new ride. The fact that it didn't fit in our garage was trivial at that point.
Anyhoo. Of course this loan didn't get paid off with the next big bonus check. By the time Big Daddy hit the road, it was pared down to about $16,000.00. And it became all mine. I managed to pay it off before I became destitute, and as much as I say I hate this thing, I guess it's better than not having a vehicle at all. Kind of.
This was all before a gallon of gas cost more than a gallon of milk.
When gas prices first started escalating and everyone with a conscience and disposable income was tooling around in their new hybrid vehicles (think it's coincidence that Prius looks an awful lot like Pious?? I jest, friends..I jest) I started to feel a little bit conspicuous in my big truck. Imagine the guilt I felt after asking for plastic bags at the grocery store and then climbing aboard this environmental travesty in the parking lot.
I now refer to it as the rolling garbage can. At this moment, there is a big metal rack in the back that rolls and smacks against the sides of the interior every time I turn. Why is it in there? It was used at our school carnival IN THE BEGINNING OF MAY and I just haven't had the chance to take it out yet. Inside the cavernous cabin are layers of family history. Every single water bottle I have ever purchased or borrowed is in there. There are cloth grocery bags, looking so earnest and constantly reminding me of just how inadequate I really am. A big insulated Costco bag which I have had for oh, 4 years, and have yet to use. More fossilized french fries than your mind can fathom. There are random pieces of clothing. I don't recall any naked kids climbing out of this truck, but for some reason you can find everything from nut cups to winter coats in there. It's full of crap, folks.
Every few months I get fed up, grab a leaf bag and delve into this gas-sucking time capsule. It's so nice and clean for about 2 hours, and then it's not. I drove a friend to our 4th grader's musical recital last night, and although I am 99% sure she wasn't judging me, it's leaf bag time again.
It's also time to think about getting rid of this thing. My Charlie is now 16, and as soon as he's able to pay for some of his behind the wheel courses he'll be getting his license. I think this would be a great "first vehicle" for him, don't you? He won't get too far...have you ever known a teenager who put more than $10.00 worth of gas in their car? He is almost guaranteed safety in anything but the most devastating accident. The brakes have issues, so the free back massage courtesy of a massive truck shimmying and convulsing at every tap of the brakes may just be a chick magnet...you never know.
But of course, until I find a coupon for a free car in the Sunday paper, this baby is mine all mine. In the meantime I do keep a spare key in the front cup holder, and rarely lock the doors. It would be a shame if someone were to steal it.