I am indebted | Part One

My wife and I have just successfully paid off the second of two vehicle loans that we’ve incurred since getting married. Technically, the first vehicle loan started just prior to our marriage, after selling the two-seat, manual, lowered pickup truck of my bachelorhood and getting the automatic, miniature SUV of responsible marriage-hood. But since we paid for that loan during the first full year of our married life, I’m going to count it. Once that first loan was retired, we vowed we would never again take out a car loan.

But then we did anyway.

2002_saturn_vue_4dr-suv_base_fq_oem_1_500As the vehicle for which we took out that first loan got more miles under its belt, we knew we should start saving up for a new vehicle. In fact, a mechanic friend told us that most Saturn Vues that he had seen had their water pumps die as they got close to 150,000 miles. Ours we probably around 145,000 when he told us this. So he advised selling it before it got to that point and letting the next owner deal with that problem.

But since the Vue was the only vehicle we had that could accommodate two car seats, we kept driving it. And sure enough, the water pump died. We were faced with a decision. Do we pay the money to fix it and keep driving it until the next problem pops up? Or do we get something newer and maybe a bit more fuel-efficient and sell the Vue AS-IS to someone who can make the fixes themselves?

As you might have guessed, we opted for the latter and bought a used 2011 Mazda 3 hatchback. DeAnne was driving about 60 miles everyday and we knew that the fuel efficiency of something smaller would pay off in the long run. And so we did the thing that we vowed not to do. We took out a vehicle loan.

Fortunately, we have good credit and we were able to get a great loan from a local bank. It was the same bank, in fact, that had loaned us the money for the Vue just before we got married. And like we did for the Vue, we planned on paying off the 5-year loan within 1 year of buying the car. This surprised our loan officer when we bought the Mazda (or the Mouse, as we call it) when he asked what kind of monthly payments we were hoping to make.

Of course, part of our calculations were based on the premise that we would be able to sell our non-functioning Vue for a certain amount in order to cover a good chunk of the Mazda’s price tag. And that didn’t happen.

2002_saturn_vue_4dr-suv_base_s_oem_1_500And so we went in deeper. In spite of the fact that we had just bought a vehicle to replace the Vue so we wouldn’t have to worry about fixing it up, we fixed it up anyway. The water pump on a Saturn Vue is in the worst possible place beneath the hood, necessitating that the entire engine be removed in order to replace the pump. And since the engine was out anyway, we had the mechanic put in fresh gaskets and such which would have been the next thing to go after the pump.

Having done all of this work, we added the cost of repairs to the original asking price, parked it by the side of the road, listed it on Craigslist and in the local paper, and waited. And waited. And nothing. The online listings lapsed and the Vue just sat there. Eventually, we parked it behind our house and forgot about selling it.

We were making our payments on the new car without the sale of the Vue and it wasn’t costing us anything, so we waited.

And then we got a call from my pastor.

“Hey,” said he. “Do you guys still have that Vue for sale? One of the families in the church just had a vehicle burn down on the roadside and they need a dependable family vehicle to replace it.”

The heavens opened and my wife and I rejoiced. Not because someone’s car burned up. That’s terrible. We rejoiced because the timing seemed to have little to do with us.


Meet the Cast Tuesday | Pumpernickel and Fork

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I write flash fiction. These stories revolve around a pair of roommates named Thom (a squirrel) and Tom (invisible), but each episode introduces a new character. This week, I’ve decided to introduce a couple of my favorite characters in the Thom & Tom series.

Pumpernickel – True to the roots of his name, Pumpernickel is a flatulent Goblin. Seriously, look up pumpernickel in the dictionary and see if I’m lying. I’ll save you the trouble. I’m not. Anyway, Pumpernickel was adopted by wealthy hedgehogs, and now he’s sitting high on the… hedgehog. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But I’ll spare you the pain of making anymore bad puns, because that’s all I’ll say about Pumpernickel.

Fork – Fork is a kleptomaniac mouse who only takes items too large to actually get away with stealing. This form of self-defeat would normally take its toll on lesser beings, but maybe that’s what makes Fork so special. Or maybe it’s a weird birthmark or something.

Stay tuned because I’ve been debating on actually posting one of the stories. My hesitation is driven by the fact that publishers don’t like publishing something that everyone has already read for free. Although, publishers do like publishing things that have a built-in fan base, so maybe I’ll just post a story or two and you can all become ravenous fans, writing to the publishers of your choice and making them want to publish me. Just an idea.

Anyway, I think that I’ve talked myself into posting something, so check back tomorrow.