Monday, February 7, 2011
The Rest of the Story
It's time to tell the story about how we got our Airstream:
I have wanted an Airstream since forever. Forever being precisely 7-10 years. I can't remember the exact moment I became infatuated with the shiny aluminum. The earliest evidence is a photo snapped in 2003 of an Airstream atop Monteagle in Tennessee. It was shortly after taking this photo that I expressed a desire to have my very own shiny trailer "before my 30th birthday."
My dream of having an Airstream was never far from my thoughts. But life got busy. Suddenly, there were three Sanders children...and shortly thereafter, a minivan. I was beginning to think the trailer would never be a reality... or at least not for a while.
The fact that we didn't own anything to tow an Airstream nor have the funds for purchasing one did not deter me from looking for a trailer. (No harm in looking, right?)
For two years I looked at trailers for sale.
We were in the market for a new vehicle.
I was hoping for a not-a-van. We went to look at a few mid sized SUVs with (some) towing capacity. We found them all to be too small for our family of five plus our camping equipment.
Shucks. We'd have to wait a little longer for a tow vehicle. Maybe we could get Brian a bigger truck in a couple of years and it could be our tow vehicle.
If our new set of wheels was going to be a van (again) then it was going to be a nice one! Finally, we found "the one" at that big online auction place: only 2 years old, low miles, beautiful shiny red, leather interior, sunroof, DVD package! Perfect!
Nervous about buying a vehicle we'd never laid eyes on, we talked to the seller and asked lots of questions. We studied the pictures of the van looking for the slightest flaw. (A picture is worth a thousand words, right?) We bought the Carfax report. We took comfort in the fact that the van had been through an independent inspection. Our fears subsided. We bid on the van; we won. We sent a deposit. Brian and I giddily made arrangements to fly to Tampa to pick up our van.
When we got to the Tampa airport things took a strange turn...
We were blindfolded and transported from the airport in a green panel van to the dealership. Finding ourselves in an overgrown gravel lot next to a strip club, we took keys from a shifty-eyed man who suggested we take our new van for a test drive. He motioned to a dirty red van surrounded by weeds.
Maybe I'm exaggerating a little. I made up the part about the blindfold and the panel van.
Allow me to continue....
The stench of mold and mildew filled our nostrils and soured our stomachs the moment we opened the door. Feeling like sleuths in a Nancy Drew novel we began to investigate. It didn't take us long to find a large hole in the carpet, mildew on the seats, and a water line on the driver side door. Our van had clearly been flooded and certifiably misrepresented.
Mr. Shifty-Eyes had an explanation for everything. The mildew, it seems, was on the seats because the car hadn't had an opportunity to dry out after it was detailed. (Really? If it was detailed then why were there still cheez-Its in the seat pocket?) We complemented Mr. Shifty-Eyes on his precision. A stack of floor mats had been placed exactly on top of the hole in the carpet for the van's photo op.
Under no circumstances were we going to bring the flooded van home. Armed only with our laptops and a GPS (note: I did not say cell phone) we began thinking about how to get ourselves out of this mess. The GPS said there was a car rental place 4 miles away...not too far to walk. Brian was eyeing the *ahem* "bar" next door where he thought we could use the phone to call a taxi. Ultimately, we took the green panel van back to the airport... this time without the (metaphorical) blindfold but with a constant narration from Mr. Shifty-Eyes' partner about why it was all Mr. Shifty-Eyes' fault.
I wished we had called a taxi.
Four hours later we were on a flight back to Atlanta.
The idea of a buying a van was sour. Again, I poured over the Consumer Reports list of "best cars" for something, anything, that could haul around our family and an Airstream. I had new motivation. A trailer came up for sale. Not just any trailer. A 50s Airstream. My dream!
About a week after the online-auction-dream-van-turned-nightmare fiasco we were sitting behind the wheel of our new tow vehicle...a Toyota Sequoia.
Now to sell the minivan: I used a ton of elbow grease to wipe off three years of kids and camping; took some pictures; posted an ad. Within 24 hours of posting the ad someone came and paid cash for our minivan.
I called about the Airstream.
As Paul Harvey said... now you know "The rest of the story."
I'd like to take this moment to thank Mr. Shifty-Eyes and his partner for screwing us over. If he hadn't tried to sell us his flooded van then I'd still be perusing those Airstream ads.
P.S. If you must know, we didn't quite make the "before my 30th birthday" goal... but we were pretty darn close.