I drive a big white van.

Alternate title: A blog post in which I obsess over my big white van and complain about the week and a half that I was without her.

When my husband and I were not quite on the same page about having more than say, six kids, one of his reasons was because he didn’t want to have to drive a fifteen passenger van. He had easily been won over to the mini-van life, as I was, but the idea of a monstrous beast of a vehicle was a bit much for him. When we decided it was going to happen, but before I was actually expecting number seven (the magic number that one needs to officially outgrow mini-van life), we bought our big white van. It had a crazy amount of kilometres, snowboarding decals on the back window, and zero headrests on any of the back seats. But I fell in love instantly.

This was my dream vehicle, people. It meant I had made it into the elite club of crazy people who have way more kids than everyone else. It was a bit intimidating to drive at first, sitting way up high above all the other cars and remembering that it was massively long and therefore could not always fit into conventional parking spots. But I eased into it well enough and got used to the friendly waves of passing Mennonite families driving fifteen passenger vans who thought I was one of them. So cute.

In January of this year, I was rear-ended. It was not a big deal sort of accident, even though it was jarring and made me shriek like an old lady in the moment. I didn’t have the kids with me and was able to drive it away and get the car seats replaced by the insurance company without much of a fuss. We finally got it in for an estimate on the repairs early in the summer and set a date for early September to get it all fixed up.

We got home from our three week long, 6,000 km road trip, on which we had a breakdown and had to replace our alternator (another story) and had another breakdown just days before it was due at the body shop. This meant that we quit driving it through the holiday weekend, waiting for it to be mechanically fixed so we could drive it to the body shop the following week. It all worked out fine and we took it in on the scheduled day.

As we were not at fault for our accident and have a few extra coverages as well, we were provided with a rental vehicle. I went online and applauded myself for finding a local rental company with fifteen passenger vans. Hooray! I booked one for a week, double checked a few things with the insurance company and the body shop and showed up the day of the drop off to pick up a familiar vehicle.

Except they don’t actually have them, apparently. Which they informed someone…who knows who it was, but it wasn’t me. So they booked us a Yukon instead. A huge white brand new Yukon with one too few seats for our family. The kind with super narrow seats and way too many bells and whistles to ever figure out.

We did our best to find a way out of the mess but had to give it up and live with the beast for a week. I realized very quickly that my eleven year old van is just fine for me. There were so many lights and knobs and buttons in that thing and rather than being massively long in the back, it was huge in the front. I will admit that a back up camera is a nice little perk and I might even get one for the van eventually, but otherwise I was very excited to take it right back to the rental company at the end of the week.

On Monday afternoon, two days before the estimated finish of the body work, I called to find out when they thought it would be done. “Oh, it will definitely be done tomorrow.” Hallelujah! A whole day early sounded sublime to me.

Except apparently you shouldn’t trust a body shop when they say things like that. You should, in fact, take it to mean that it will take approximately two full days longer than they have told you so enthusiastically over the phone. Because that’s exactly what happened.

All things said, I have my van back now. All the kids’ seats are back where they belong and I am certain that loading them into it a few times will clear it of the odd cleaning solution smell that the body shop left behind. But oh, please, if this could never happen again and I could just go on driving this thing until it dies for good and then get another one just like it. Please?!


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