$500 Van For Sale!
Of course it runs. That’s why I’m asking so much. It’s a $500 van.
“How much?” you ask, kicking the tires.
Don’t pretend like you don’t remember the Craigslist posting. We both know you know ‘how much’. The price was in the posting's title. The price is the only reason you looked at it. Maybe you don’t understand this was our family van. Few vehicles can endure raising five children. It’s a $500 van.
You give it a quick look over. “Are you willing to budge on the price?”
Why are you here? It is being sold AS IS. No warranty, returns, refunds, complaints, or bitching about it. If it were any cheaper, you’d think something was seriously wrong with it. But you are here because you are desperate. It’s not an encouraging place to be, but life has brought us together, so let’s not pretend this is a normal transaction between two stable people involving a good vehicle. It’s a $500 van.
“How many miles?” you ask.
307,353 to be exact, but it may have a few more by the time you come back to pay for it. Did I mention I discovered the odometer had been rolled back before I owned it? It’s a $500 van.
“Does it run?” you ask.
What an insulting question. Of course it runs. That’s why I’m asking so much. It’s a $500 van.
“Does it have any problems?” you ask.
I roll my eyes. Are we really going there? Yes, it has problems. That’s why I’m selling it. It has more problems than Mike Tyson’s face tattoo or Criss Angel’s arousal template. It’s a $500 van.
“What problems?” you ask.
Okay, I’ll play along. Where to start? The transmission was rebuilt last year, and it is already slipping again. It might be more accurate to say when you press the gas it doesn’t respond, then suddenly it lurches forward making you feel as if you have been whiplashed by a fuel-injected mountain goat.
Our mechanic told us the transmission was fine. “It’s just a cheap sensor that needs to be replaced,” he said. We replaced it. Twice. But it’s still jerkier than Edward Snowden at an Apple Keynote. But who knows….maybe you can figure out what the problem is. Maybe you are smarter than our mechanic. But be warned, I think he may be some sort of strange prophet since the van quit when I was driving it last week and it somehow coasted itself into a church parking lot. I don’t take it as a mysterious sign or anything, because it wasn’t my kind of church. It’s a $500 van.
“Any other problems?” you ask, taking a step back.
It burns oil. Quite a lot, actually. Don’t worry — I keep refilling it. We nicknamed it George Burns because of all the blue smoke and coughs that seem to emerge when people are near it. It’s a $500 van.
“Anything else?” you ask, but not with words. I sense the question from the look on your face.
Of course. It leaks power steering fluid. The power steering pump will probably need to be replaced soon. Or you can just keep dumping fluid down it every month like I do. I think I’m pouring it in the right hole. It’s a $500 van.
“I think I’m good,” you say. But wait, there’s more. Those are only the problems under the hood.
“It’s okay,” you say, turning to leave, but I grab your arm and make you listen to the uncomfortable noise the passenger sliding door makes when opening. Then I show you how it almost shuts and then opens again. You need to know locking the door sometimes helps it close, but other times it just needs a good shove. It’s a $500 van.
You jerk your arm away and your elbow smears this pinkish splotch one of our kids painted on the door with colored chalk or something. It’s a $500 van.
“Thanks for your time,” you say, but we aren’t done yet.
I explain when it rains sometimes the back storage area gets wet. I’ve looked around and can’t see where any water would come in, but it magically gets wet somehow. It’s a $500 van.
You round the corner to leave, but then I remember, one of the rear brake lights is out. I tell you they sell replacement bulbs at a store right down the street. It’s a $500 van.
“Let me go,” you say. I didn’t realize I was holding your arm again. I remember to tell you the check engine light is on. And some other lights. Potential buyers want to know these things. It’s a $500 van.
You pull out your phone and punch a few digits as you get in your car. That reminds me, the back windows don’t open. They never have. It’s a $500 van.
You start your car, and I yell at you, informing you I only take cash.
You speed away. I can’t understand why you changed your mind. It’s only a $500 van.
If you enjoyed this piece, you may like some of Jim’s other humor pieces.