One of our first purchases upon arrival was my Bride's car. We had sold off mine when we left, and we gave hers to her parents as a kind of retirement gift (which was later totaled by my Bride's cousin in a moment of carelessness. Grr.) And for the past several years in England, we drove leased vehicles. So we knew we'd end up purchasing two cars on our return, a thought that filled me with a mix of anticipation and gut-wrenching nausea.
I like the idea of cars. Thinking about what we could get. Spec'ing out the options. Considering things like mileage and resale value and colors and interior. But the prospect of going to a dealership, negotiating and executing the purchase is about as much fun for me as scraping my teeth clean with broken, blunt shards of glass washed up with amongst the medical waste on a Los Angeles beach. Really. I don't like it.
To minimize the pain, we did a bunch of research online first, and made several phone calls to dealers before stepping outside the door. We knew what we wanted down to the model and options, and ended up driving an extra few minutes up to New Hampshire once we found a dealer willing to talk in the right price range. And that's how we met Bill. Our salesguy.
Bill is not small. Nor quick. Partly because he had broken his foot doing something with a dog. I didn't quite catch the details, other than it wasn't his dog. Really, I didn't care too much. I am just there to buy a car. Bill is there to sell the car. You would think that we would be able to focus on that transaction. But Bill likes to talk. Also, Bill believes the United Nations is colluding with the Democratic Party to make Bill Clinton the first World President under a global government. We have to watch out, because they have already begun diluting the history taught to our children through insidious alteration of text books. You know how I know this? Because Bill told me. Seriously, Bill. I just want that car. The blue one. Can you have it ready by Tuesday? Great. I'm going to take my children and go away now. You frighten me just a little bit. And also, you have funny looking hair.
In the meanwhile, I'm still driving a rental. The one the dog crapped in. And that I've taken to the dump several times now. Hertz is going to love me. But I'm stuck with the rental for a couple more weeks. Because that's how it goes according to my Master Plan.
See, I want to buy a truck. But not a new truck. I want an old truck. One that I don't have to feel bad about taking to the dump. Or to Home Depot for several bags of concrete, some plywood and maybe a table saw. Or whatever. But also, because I like old trucks. Big, and steel, and from Detroit. Something from the '60's or '70's. They had soul. And bench seats. I miss the bench seat.
The problem is, it's difficult to find something like that here in Massachusetts. Unless they were taken care of, the winter weather and copious amounts of salt spread on the roads tends to have left only a rusty outline where the old trucks used to be. So finding a good candidate in decent condition up here is way more trouble than I can really be bothered with. But that's ok, says I. I know where trucks like this are scattered across the landscape, front yards and drive ways like chiggers in a pine wood. My parents live just an hour outside of Nashville. Where people seem to feel incomplete without a truck or two in the family, sometimes collecting used examples along with their plastic Wall E novelty glass of the week from Burger King.
A quick search on Craig's List later, and I had found several good candidates. Like the great example owned by Wayne below.
Wayne lives in Fayetteville. About half an hour north of the Alabama state line. Wayne also believes Democrats are up to no good. However, his answer is much simpler and involves his property line, a shotgun and his dog Blue. When I asked Wayne if the truck was in running order, he told me that him, me, and my mechanic buddy could take it out for an hour or so, and if we weren't satisfied that it would get me back to Massachusetts in one piece, he'd take me for dinner at Cracker Barrel, we'd drop the truck off, and no harm done. The purchase is cash, with no paperwork other than the title exchange. I get a cheap vehicle, right up the alley I'm looking for, and even after a bit of investment in paint and some other work (like fixing those tires. Whoever came up with the idea of the low-rider should be introduced to the business end of Wayne's dog Blue. Wayne assures me it wasn't him that did it.)
I'm not sure if I'll end up with this truck or another like it, but I know this: I like Wayne.
This has now spawned my Master Plan. The Critter and I are going to fly down to Nashville in a couple of weeks time. We'll spend a couple of days visiting my parents, and finding the right truck. Then, she and I will drive from Tennessee back up to Massachusetts in our new purchase. I get the truck I want and an opportunity to re-introduce my six-year-old to America through the greatest family institution around: the road trip.
I am brilliant. Nothing could possibly go wrong with this plan.
My Bride will have a complete itinerary for the trip, though, and I'll be making sure my AAA membership is up to date.
Just in case.