car auction

The more chaotic my life becomes the less likely I am to blog about it. It’s just too difficult to sort it into digestible chunks, and besides, who cares anyway?

But here I am again anyway, and since I’m so far behind I might as well just jump in where I am, I suppose.

My husband, aka Mr Moth, bought me a van on Sweetest Day. Not for Sweetest Day, but it’s cute to say that’s why. The timing was coincidental. Neither of us actually knew it was Sweetest Day until after the purchase.

We went to the auto auction, where we have purchased a vehicle the last three Octobers in a row. Two years ago, we bought Silver, a Caravan, for Mr Moth to drive when his Sonoma became even more aggravating than usual. Last year we bought Forest, an F-150. This was also for Mr Moth, and Silver passed to me because Berta (my previous Grand Caravan) had passed 200,000 miles. Silver has been pretty reliable, but she has some quirks that I am not in love with.

So this year Mr Moth decided Forest doesn’t get good enough gas milage for the commute he will probably have to make when he graduates and starts a new job. But instead of him getting a third vehicle he (we) decided it was my turn and he would take Silver back. So we started our auction routine. Maybe we shouldn’t call it a routine, since we’d only done it twice before, and refined the process each time, but whatever.

The routine involves making a list. Mr Moth downloads the full inventory from the auction website and then we go through it and eliminate anything inappropriate, such as vehicles that don’t run, are wrecked, too much hassle. Also no school busses, golf carts, sail boats and etc.. Then we go to the auction location the day before the auction, which is when they let you start the vehicles and listen to them. You aren’t allowed to actually drive them, because that would create a rodeo. It’s a negative, not being able to drive them, but you can put them in gear, and test to see what works, look for leaks, and suchlike. This is the part of the process where I actually contribute the most because I have this superpower.

I am an engine whisperer. I can hear things. Not just obvious things anyone could hear like a bearing going out, but subtle things that I can’t quite put my finger on. I call it the Death Rattle. Sometimes I have heard it in my own vehicles for quite a long while before anything bad happened so maybe it’s my imagination (since all vehicles die eventually) but you have to decide based on something, so this is what I do. I find the vehicles that sound the best.

After this, we refine our list, crossing off anything with the Death Rattle or any other newly discovered condition that create a nope situation. The new list gives us priorities, first choice, second choice and so on.

The thing with auctions is, they go in order. Your first choice might be the last car sold. If you wait, you might miss out on somehting good, and still not get your first choice. It’s gambling. I’m not a gambler by nature, so this is all very exciting but also very stressful, and it takes days. By the end of the auction experience, I’m seriously depleted and ready for emotional collapse.

And then next year I want to do it again.

This year was worse, however, because I made a mistake. I had been waffling between passenger vans and cargo vans. I really liked the cargo vans, but they only have two seats. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, that’s all I need; it’s either Mr Moth and I, or Zor (my youngest spawn) and I. But sometimes my parents need a ride to a medical appointment or the store. If that happened I could always use Silver. Buying a cargo van was no worse than buying a pickup I figured. But there was still a lot of guilt, because parents. (They didn’t put it on me. I took this guilt for myself.)

The mistake was, I found one car, the perfect car. Another Dodge van like the two I already love. A passenger van, with fold down seats, in really pretty shape and it sounded beautiful too. The color is technically beige, but it looks kind of goldy-champaign to me. It matches my cell phone, ha.

There was only one.

I know better than to get attached, I told Mr Moth. I don’t want to be stupid. We looked up the Kelly value on that van and decided on a top end price. Based on the list of sold-prices from the last auction, I was sure it would go at least a thousand over that amount. This isn’t going to happen, I told myself. Don’t get attached.

It was too late.

So we finally get to the day of the auction. I had decided to let a couple of other possibles go by for a chance at The Van, although I had picked three others that would come after.

There was one van exactly like Berta, even the same color except with half the miles, that we hadn’t listened to because of hideous rust holes. Mr Moth suddenly suggested we could have bought it and put Berta’s body on it. Other similar vans were going for less than $500. I really wished we had listened to it; Berta has a lot of good parts because I took care of her. Then this one went for a thousand, and I felt less bad about not thinking of this the day before.

It’s during the bidding that Mr Moth works his superpower. Somehow, people mysteriously stop bidding. He has ideas on why this happens, but my hypothesis is, it’s a Jedi mind trick. “This is not the car you’re looking for.”

He did it again.

We never saw who bid against us because whoever it was stood on the other side of The Van where we couldn’t see. I don’t expect it matters, but I kind of think it was this short guy I heard a bit later who was bitching up a storm about what a sucky auction this one was.

Because The Van was so low in the numbers, we still had plenty of time to make it to the nearby BMV and register for a temp tag, and use the blissfully clean bathroom there. The porta potties at the auction are my biggest complaint. They are disgusting, revolting and horrible about ten seconds after you get there. Obviously women are not supposed to go there, or at least not go there. Next time I think I’ll take a big bag of cleaning supplies and maybe a hazmat suit.

Then we went back to the auction and by then they had “cleared” the row where The Van was parked, meaning they had finished auctioning there and buyers were allowed to remove the vehicles. When Mr Moth pulled The Van around, there was a lot of brake noise which we could not have discovered sooner because we couldn’t drive it. That’s also when he noticed Silver, which we had driven there, had developed a substantially low tire on the driver’s side rear. Blargh.

We stopped at the Duke station on the way home and aired that up, which gave me time to play with the controls in The Van. There are a lot of controls. Power everything, except seats. The side and back windows all have controls, along with the mirrors. There are separate climate controls for driver, shotgun, and rear positions. The sound system has a radio, a cd player, and an mp3 player jack. It sounds really lux, too.

So we came home.

We recalled that when we purchased Silver, Berta had suffered a minor repair issue that required mechanical intervention, and we concluded that Dodge Vans are slightly jealous bitches.

Upon returning home, we discovered that the plates on Mr Moth’s truck, Forest, had expired in mid-September. Probably because we transferred Silver into my name then, and in his head that trip to the BMV was the trip for his plates. So we had to make an emergency run to our local BMV to renew him. That made one too many things, and we didn’t address Silver’s tire problem until Sunday.

So the next day, Sunday, Mr Moth tried to change the tire and couldn’t get one of the lug nuts off. So he put in fix-a-flat, we reminded each other how we always mean to get an air compressor but it’s never quite a priority, and drove it to Wal-Mart. They couldn’t get the damn lug nut off either. So on Monday Mr Moth called Car Guy and made an appointment to take The Van in on Wednesday (brakes), and Silver afterward (lug nut).

I didn’t want to drive The Van and risk creating or worsening any brake damage and increasing the repair costs. This left Zor and me sharing Berta. When I got in, the power steering–which I just had replaced a couple of years ago, not by Car Guy, I forget why–let out a heartbreaking squall. Because it never rains, but it pours, right?

I skipped school on Monday. I had such a stress headache. But I had to go on Wednesday because I had a poem due. Car Guy finished The Van for $80-something. All it needed was front pads, which he said were as close to metal-to-metal as you can get without actually being metal-to-metal. Also he sanded some rust off the rear discs. He said it looked like it had been sitting for a while. And Silver ended up costing $10, because he was able to get that dag ratted lug nut off without breaking it. I love Car Guy. Besides Mr Moth, he is my other hero.

Berta is still pending. I am burnt out on decision making.

So I have not driven The Van anywhere but home from the auction, and to and from the Car Guy’s place.

However, The Van has a name now. Mr Moth and I were returning from not getting Silver new tires, and I told him a couple of names I had toyed with but was not in love with. Berta was named after the housekeeper on Two and a Half Men. Big but likable and got the job done. Silver was named after Bill Denbrough’s bicycle in Stephen King’s book It. Forest, Mr Moth’s truck, was formerly a Parks Services truck, and is also green, so.

The Van is formally beige, but looks gold-ish or champaign to me. I thought about blonde TV charactes. Bernadette is my favorite Big Bang character, but I just lost a hamster named Bernie so I didn’t want to do that. Maybe Penny?

Mr Moth said, “It’s your van, you can name it Agnes for all I care.”

“Ohmigawd, that’s it! Agnes! Perfect!” Not after a blonde character, but after Agnes Moorehead.

So world, meet Agnes, the newest member of my fleet, I hope for a long time to come.

One thought on “car auction

  1. I would like to ride in Agnes… it looks very comfortable. Mp3 jack is really a nice convenience. As usual, your stories are captivating and entertaining. Thanks for sharing your world. I sure am glad I am still a part of it after all these years!

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