Offcuts: Minivan By: Don Heisz

It’s an unending adventure.

First, my station wagon, which I’d had for eight years, was destroyed in a total mess of an accident.

I replaced it with a so-called “crossover” vehicle. That’s not a car, not a truck, not an SUV. It’s something else. First, I backed it up into a metal post and had to fix it myself. Then, after that, it was written off from a fender bender. Now, that’s embarrassing.

So, I then had to deal with car sales people again. And I can’t recall if I recounted my interaction with one of them. I had to walk through the lot of a particular Korean car manufacturer to get from Japan to the United States. I was intercepted but swiftly told him that I was not interested.

“Oh, but-”

“No, I had one of these before and they’re junk.” Which was true. I had a compact one of those for a few years. It was a disposable car. Not only that, the dashlights continually blew, the windshield wipers actually seized up, a power-steering hose ruptured for no reason, and I once had their own service team put pure antifreeze in as coolant.

I know nothing about antifreeze. Apparently, doing that is a big no-no.

Anyway, I made that salesman of Korean cars a little angry. But my wife pushed me through to the next lot, where we successfully bought a car.

The car, incidentally, was to replace her car. Even though I was serially going through vehicles, a car is of no use to me, but she definitely needed a new one. That left me with her car, a 2007 Chevy Cobalt. I have been using that for work. It is not big enough to drag my tools around.

Furthermore, it’s wearing out. So, I found a decent vehicle online and sent an email. Yesterday, we went and looked at it and signed the paperwork.

It’s a minivan.

Mini Van front and back

Yes, a dull minivan, in all its glory. Seats seven.

Anyway, my only incident was when the guy who assessed the Cobalt for trade-in value came over and said, “So, we’ve looked at the car. It’s trade-in value is between five-hundred and a thousand. What were you looking to get for it?”

I looked at him. “You just said it’s worth between five-hundred and a thousand.”

“Yeah, yeah. But what were you looking to get for it.”

If this had been the guy selling us the minivan, I would have left at that point. “You said it’s worth between five-hundred and a thousand, right?”


“So, what does it matter what I want for it. I want to trade it in. Five-hundred to a thousand is a five-hundred dollar spread, not a number.”

“Yeah, so, what were you looking to get for it?”

“Tell me what you’ll give me for it. An actual number.”

He threw his arms up in the air and bounced away.

My wife looked at me, “Be nice to the salesmen.”

Past that incident, however, it was a painless purchase. The actual salesman was fine. I can appreciate the need for those guys to make money from their sales. That’s how the world works. So, I don’t mind a little bit of deception from them. He sat down with a list of things that were wrong with the Cobalt, that would need to be fixed before they could sell it, to talk down the trade-in value that they had already decided on. It was all a lie, of course, because that car will be sold in a package with lots of other such junk cars they get in as trades. It’ll be bought at auction for scrap cost, probably. It would not be worth their while to try to sell that car.

I’m happy to get rid of it.

Now, hopefully I don’t wreck this one. I’m not sure I can stand another trip to a car sales lot. Or be there without getting into a fight.