Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Everything But the Payments

Steve bought an old ('95) van a while back. He's vague about the mileage, but it was pushing 200k. While it made a few interesting (!) noises while running, it got better gas mileage than his previous vehicle and sported lots less rust. I could actually get into this one, rather than the old one where there was so much rust that nothing was holding the step in place so the floor was my only way in and that was above my knees.

Wasn't gonna happen. Nuh uh.

When the old one died, I wasn't exactly crying about it.

When Steve got the newer one, I was a little leery, but it was something he could afford, and afford to keep running. Well, keep insured and gassed up, anyway. It was his fishing vehicle, big enough to hold his gear so he didn't have to pack, unpack, and repack every time he wanted to head out. It was his independence, especially while I was still working and there was no other car available. It got him to his favorite fishing holes, whether the local Franconia Landing or the one he calls the Dairy Queen dock because that's the first corner he turns to get there, or whether the fishing hole de jour was down Stillwater way with his buddy Les or up near Cambridge with his son Lance.

It was also his chance to give back, loaning it to Rich when his regular transportation option dried up and he needed a way to keep his job. That was a strong point of pride with Steve. When one lives on a fixed income, as we both do now post-retirement, it becomes difficult to find ways to do that.

But good turns often come with consequences for the giver. In this case, the van started accumulating mileage at a steady pace. The inevitable happened, on an early Sunday morning on Rich's way home. He nearly made it, with the van coming to rest on the shoulder of the exit ramp from 35E to Hwy. 8 in Forest Lake.

He thought it was the battery, meaning it may have been the alternator. The cell call woke us, including the location of his set of jumper cables and the request to help after nearly 24 hours of his being on the job. We connected the batteries and he tried cranking the van. From the noise and how it acted, we both believe the engine froze up. Rich had added oil the day before but the dipstick now showed bone dry.

As bad as Rich feels about the van dying under his hands, I think of it as a blessing in disguise. It was bound to happen, sooner rather than later. At least it didn't happen with Steve driving, unable to walk any distance for help, and well within cell range rather than out in the boonies or down in the river valley in a coverage hole and unable to get help.

After giving up on the van and cleaning it out, being Sunday there was nothing to do until the next morning. Other than feeling bad, in Rich's and Steve's case, or feeling some relief at a narrow escape in my case, we all took advantage of the opportunity to grab some much-needed sleep. Rich made arrangements regarding work and alternative transportation. Steve made plans for towing and disposing of the van with a little help from me for Monday.

That help turned into a 250 mile drive since we had to go to Litchfield to get the lien waiver card from the seller in order for the junkyard to "buy" it for scrapping, a price that nearly covered the cost of the tow. Luckily, I had some cash I was sitting on, since there were still a few hundred owed on it. My Master Card can get that payment later, since I'm paid past minimum owed for this month. Steve will just make his final payments to me rather than the seller. The timing just happened to be perfect to enable the deal.

Eventually, all the Ts were dotted and the Is crossed. The van is just a memory now. Everything but the payments.

No comments: