A van to go

The engine light is on,” the van driver announced last summer.

He took it to the shop. The mechanics fixed a part.

The light stayed lit. He took it to a couple shops. Mechanics tried one thing and another to turn off the lights warning of something amiss with the engine. Just before a long trip, he poured some magic fluid in the engine and the light stayed off.

Four hours down the road, the dash lit up again.

Stopped at an auto supply store. Mechanic came with battery tester and declared, “No problem”

Back on the road with no light for many miles.

It came back. Asked another mechanic what needed to be done. Nothing showed up on the analysis. The light went on and off until the van arrived at the home of the out-of-state family and did not move again for the entire visit.

Heading home, the dash lit up with battery and brake warning lights glaring their red warning. Again, yet another mechanic found nothing to fix.

The engine did not care, it surged and faded in strength.

“It is not shifting gears right. The light is back on. …. and the engine sounds odd,” the driver mused just as the motor sighed and died.

The State Police stopped to help. Hood up, key in ignition, the car roared to life, determined to show it could take the folks home.

Shrugs, handshakes and down the road again for about ten minutes and again the van began losing energy. It rolled along sounding ominously ready to quit right in the middle of Nowhere, with acres of farm land on either side.

“Oh, let’s just buy another car. This one has 317,000 miles. The CD player doesn’t play well. It has been in and out of the shop. It is time,” the co-pilot said.

The driver sighed. He really had hoped to get half a million miles before he traded vans. And it would only be a van trade. He had had four vans, all from the same company. He bought one of the first that the company built on this particular line. He replaced it with a red van from a car rental – purchased halfway through a trip when the first van finally died. A middle of the day collision with a drunk driver killed the red van at 350,000 miles. A gold van off Ebay replaced it for a couple years to be replaced with the silver van from a used car dealership.

As the silver van struggled to keep up its speed through farming country, it passed a crop of cars, a car dealership in the middle of the fields of Nowhere.

“We could stop there and have them look at the van.”

“Wrong company….. but they might have a van,” he said, his eyes searching for a van from “the right company.”

One van. White. Four years old. Working condition with a DVD player! A short test drive, cell phone check of blue book prices and three hours of paper work.

The silver van would not start for the mechanic. They shrugged, “Your problem, not ours.”

It took a few minutes to clear the silver van’s storage compartments, scoop up suitcases, audio books and trip detritus to transfer to the white van. Neither shed a tear for the silver van’s thousands of miles of service. Instead, they quickly embraced the luxury of leather seats, DVD player, automatic doors, high tech radio and working CD player. As the co-pilot observed, “We sure didn’t waste any time thinking about replacing that old van did we?”