There’s no other way to describe it.
As I sat freezing in my car Thursday night, waiting for Justin to get through all that rotten traffic to pick me up, I started taking a mental inventory of our finances and the car. I felt the panic rising in my throat, I started shaking uncontrollably, and I felt physically sick. And I just started praying. I prayed really hard asking God to provide for us somehow–I didn’t care how, we just needed some help.
After I went out with the girls, did my night work, and went to bed, I laid awake until well after midnight worrying about how much the repair to my car would cost, how were we going to pay for it, how were we going to keep maintaining a car that was racking more and more costly repairs, when and how were we ever going to replace it when every time we turned around we got hit with some crazy expense (either the car or some other expense). The worry kept piling on and on, getting thicker and thicker, my anxiety increasing incrementally.
I slept poorly and woke up feeling nauseous. I dropped the kids off and one of Gavin’s teachers asked if I was feeling alright. I got to work, opened my email, and I had four email responses to my query for the name/number of a trustworthy car repair shop near the office. Three of them were for the gas station around the corner. I instantly felt a little wave of relief–no need to worry about paying to tow the car 30 miles to our regular garage. I called the tow company and sniffed a bit as I watched my little car get carted away.
As the day dragged-on, I started getting worried again and finally called the shop to see if they found anything. I was told the battery was bad, they tried a test battery, and they still couldn’t get the thing started. At that point I started scouring car dealer sites, hoping for miracle.
A couple hours later the shop called back. Turns out that when the battery went bad (a 2-yr old battery, no less) that it tripped the theft deterrent system, which was preventing the car from being started (apparently the poor car got so senile it thought it was being hotwired or something). So just had to pay for a new battery, the tow, and the labor. The mechanic also mentioned that there were two other codes stored in the system: the catalytic converter (which our tax return would pay to repair) and the powertrain control module. I thanked him, promised to pick up the old girl the following day, and called Justin with the news, wryly suggesting that we take the car directly to a dealer to trade in before the car runs its self-diagnostic and sets off the “check-engine” light again. I then proceeded to have some of the worst verbal diarrhea I’ve had in a long time about my concerns with the powertrain control module which may or may not have been triggered by the car unable to start. I heard him saying something back but I couldn’t shut up. Finally he hollered, “hey! are you listening? I said make a list of those dealers you were interested in. We’ll go look tomorrow.”
I was too stunned to argue or start asking questions. Shortly afterward I walked down to my manager’s office to give her the sort-of good news that my car repair wasn’t going to be the monster we thought it might be, but I wasn’t sure what we were going to do about the other eventual repairs. She asked if I wanted some good news…and she proceeded to give me my yearly progress review. And it was good. Then she gave me the sheet with my merit increase and my bonus. My knees shook and tears pricked the backs of my eyes–it took all my strength to not burst into tears. I know that ours, like so many other businesses, had been having a rough year–the numbers on the paper were more* than I expected. And those numbers were exactly what we needed. They were the answer to my prayers.
So after some research online, some major number crunching, and some oaths to stick to brown-bag lunches and coupon clipping for at least 60 months, we went and picked up my old car and drove it straight to a dealer (okay, we got lost and turned around twice due to road construction). And through the grace of God, we were able to get a really good deal on this:
A 2008 Hyundai Tuscon…they have that fabulous 10-year/100k mile powertrain warranty which we extended to 10-year/100k mile bumper-to-bumper for a very good price. It has wonderful safety features and I felt so relieved that I don’t have to worry about breaking down somewhere (and if it does? we don’t pay a penny for it). As we drove home from the dealer, I sent up dozens of prayers of thanks. And I slept well for the first time in a long time.
* by “more” I mean I was expecting a next-to-nothing raise and no bonus…so the fact that I got something and it was the perfect amount to help us put a little down and still be able to feasibly make the monthly payments meant it was a lot to us.