Do you ever see people who are getting to experience all of the wonderful things of life and you feel a tiny bit envious of all that they're living? Well, I feel bad that I'm going to be one of those people for you today. I feel bad that all of the good things happen to me and that you, likely, will only get to experience one of the wonderful things of life through listening to my story. Unless you've been one of the lucky ones, too.
Today, my minivan was repossessed by an actual repo man who knocked on the door of my home with a police man by his side while my kids napped. One minute I'm booking tickets online for a trip in the spring and the next minute my car is being driven down the driveway by a repo man. Welcome to America, baby.
If you've ever seen a repo man on any TV show that has completely typecast the repo man, you'll know exactly what my repo man looked like. The police officer just looked like a nice guy full of shame and pity for me, with a tiny bit of "I'm the law" seriousness on the side in case I decided to, I don't know, not follow what they told me to do? When you open your front door and you've got these two guys staring at you, who say, in unison, "Ma'am...," you know shit's about to get real.
To try to explain away this situation and make it feel less loser-like, I'll make a long story short and explain that our van was leased and our lease was up. We had a new van picked out, paper work filled out, and everything all set with the dealership - paid in full (!) and ready to go. For the past two weeks, we have been trying to stop by to quickly exchange cars. I do not know why we couldn't do this. I mean, I totally do know why - we've been out of whack around here with sick kids and family members. We'd been talking to our people at the Honda dealership and they said it was all fine; we could come as soon as we could make it. They understood, they said. We kept paying our bill (even though our lease was up) to the Honda financial guys because that's what the Honda dealership guys told us to do. It all seemed fine. It was obviously, somehow, not fine.
Last week, on our way to visit his mom, my husband said laughingly, "I feel like we are so behind on everything right now. Like, for instance, this car. We've got to make the time to exchange it for the new one already. I get nervous that the dealership isn't talking to the financial guys appropriately. I don't even know what else we are forgetting around us...." I am a raging feminist and I think I might have giggled a ridiculous womanly giggle right then. "Haha," I barely answered because I was barely listening. Because I barely cared about the car amongst the things about which I was caring at the moment. And it was my car! Mine! And here I was depending on a man to figure it all out. My 16-year-old self would have taken off her bra and burned it right in front of my face. I kid - that is not what feminists do. Duh.
Here is the thing: Feminism does not mean that I don't depend on my partner. I do, for a lot of things. He also depends on me, for a lot of things. The way it works, at least for us, is if we both work our hardest in our best areas. And we make sure to make those areas equitably distributed (no fair if his list is double my list or vice versa. Egalitarianism is feminism.)
It's so funny how much you care once shit gets real, though, regardless of whose list it's on. Like, when I sent this text to my husband, well, I REALLY freaking cared then. No ridiculous womanly giggle going on anymore.
I followed the repo man out to my car with my key and my shame in my hand. I emptied out car seats and pencils, water bottles, shoes, and a hair brush. Oh, and a bra, just to make the repo man and my relationship extra uncomfortable. I'm sure he's seen way more.
The repo man was kind to me, though. My husband wanted to talk to him on my phone, but I knew this guy just had a job to do; he wasn't going to leave without finishing it. And I want you to know that only one of the lawyers in this house knew how the repo man was going down. The other one of us was trying to put up a fight. You guys, you can never fight the repo man. It is over at that point. Your pants have been pulled down already, even if they shouldn’t have been. You've lost. Just get your things and go. You can fight another day. Just wanted to share in case you get the opportunity to experience all this. If you don't, again, I'm sorry; everyone can't have everything.
I unloaded all of our things onto the driveway. I found more money in the seats than I would have ever thought would be hidden there and I thought about the irony of that since I am sure the repo man didn't believe my story at all. Can you ever imagine why he would? Think of all of the stories he has heard.
He said thanks for emptying it so efficiently and for giving him the key so that he didn't have to use the tow truck. "The tow truck?" I asked. "You came with a tow truck???"
"Yes, ma'am. Sometimes these situations get heated."
I was heated, but not at this guy. Well, except about the fact that he kept calling me ma'am. As if I needed another put-down in this moment.
I thought I knew but didn't really know all of the small indignities one can suffer, especially as a mother. There are hemorrhoids from babies who force you to hold them for three weeks straight, and there are leaky boobs and vomit and every other bodily function of theirs that happens right on you that you can imagine. And then, too, there are the straight-up, regular-old indignities that happen when you're looking the other way, when you think you have things covered, when you're trying to do your best.
Is there any other way to get through than to laugh? Well, I mean, first you can get super mad at somebody (spouses are useful here) and then you can laugh. I have not found a better way than that.
And I'm telling you, if you would have seen me pulling every last thing out of my car this afternoon (well, used to be "my"), you would have laughed right along with me. That is, if you weren't trying to avoid eye contact. A credit card denial has nothing on a car repossession; I now know this for sure.
Of all of the experiences I never thought I'd get to live, this was surely one. But just look at that - anything is possible.
Honda, I'm coming for you tomorrow without any hint of a giggle. Don't mess with a mama's minivan. Or her money.