Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Minivanning in to the 21st Century

Last night, Tad and I were sitting on the couch together--the new (to us) couch that we got from Tad's parents at the end of summer.  Looking at our new television, playing a Nick Drake station on Pandora.  We had just put the kids to bed after having returned from purchasing a new (used) minivan.  Tad looked at me and said, "I feel like I want to melt myself in a pot of newly purchased technological goo."

And how.

We have been on rather a spree lately.   Tad and I have always had mostly used furniture and clothing and household items and automobiles.  It's nice to have a few new things, but also a bit overwhelming.

Nonetheless, we are the new owners of a minivan.  Tad's Subaru, 14 years old and with his family for most of that 14 years has served us very well.  We have taken good care of it and put some money into its maintenance and occasional repair.  This spring, we received notice that the license plate was about to expire and I sent in the $95 dollars.  We got a letter back saying that we were "not in compliance" because we had not tested the emissions and "failure to do so" would result in "immediate action" and on and on. And I said to myself 'Well!'  They didn't give me the emissions reminder which they usually do, do they not?  So I wrote a letter back which was very indignant and I said basically that I was very unhappy about having been reprimanded and that the letter to us was extremely scoldy and I would be happy to be "in compliance" if I knew what I needed to do to be "in compliance".  I would have ended the letter with a humph if I could have, but I did not.  I think I ended it "respectfully yours,".

So then I got a letter back from the DMV and it was very apologetic about the oversight.  They sent my stickers too! And said that I'd still need to go get emissions tested, but they apologized for the tone of their last correspondence.  I was satisfied and took the Subaru to get tested.

It failed.


So I took it to a shop--not our shop--as ours is not a "qualified emissions" place and the shop I took it too charged me $100 just to check it and then gave a quote of $1500 to fix what they could fix before they even told us about the emissions problem.  Well, we were not in any position to spend that kind of money at that point, so we took it to our own guys.  They (for FREE) told us all the problems with it and what we could fix for about $800, but that still wouldn't take care of the emissions problem.  We did nothing.

Shortly thereafter we received another letter from the DMV saying we were now operating our car illegally until the emissions passed.


So we've been driving this Subaru around illegally, the saving grace being that we already had our stickers thanks to my complaint letter, but I was feeling guilty about the environment and terrified every time a police officer was behind us. 

"I can't live like this!" I said to Tad, very dramatically the last time I thought we would be pulled over. And finally we made the decision to trade in our Subaru for  a new car.  Having two children and all the hauling and carpooling that needs to be done, a minivan seemed the best option. 

So here we are. Minivan owners.  And two people who are now pledging to stop spending money on anything at all except perhaps a nice vacation when summertime comes.

This was the only picture I could find of the Subaru.  Here is me and some friends in Madison,
preparing signs for one of the rallies last winter right around this time.

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