When my almost-ex-husband and I got married, we bought a nice used mini-van. It was a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan, and although it wasn't uber-fancy, it served its purpose. When we bought it, my credit was shot, so he put it in his name. No big deal, or so I thought.
Fast-forward a bit to when we separated in May of 2009. I kicked him out (another story in and of itself) and since he didn't have a drivers license (a DUI'll do that to ya) I kept the van. And I kept making the payments. I struggled to keep it, as the payments were higher than what I could afford. I was on a first name basis with a gentleman at Chrysler Financial who worked with me for a long time to keep it from being repossessed.
Long story short, when it came time to renew the tags on it, I couldn't - because it was IN HIS NAME. I couldn't contact him because I had a PFA against him (threatening to kill someone'll do that to ya) so there was no way I could renew the tags and keep driving it legally. I scraped together some money with help from a couple of friends and a church in Wichita and scoured Craigslist until I found......the She-Beast. Then I parked the Dodge in the driveway with the doors unlocked and the keys on the dash until Chrysler finally came and took it away. (As an aside, various lights on the dash came on the very last time I drove it. Darn.)
The She-Beast is a 1991 Chevy Astro with 321,000 miles on her. She was apparently originally dark blue, but now is more of a bare metal/rust color. I've had to do some work to keep her running, but so far she's been pretty ok to me. Adding a couple of quarts of oil per week is getting a little old, but if I can keep her limping along for a while, I'm good with that. It's still cheaper than a payment for something newer (or prettier).
The other night, as I was leaving some friends' house after a WON-DER-FUL evening of hot tubbing and girl talk, I noticed that I had a headlight out. Colorful language escaped my mouth, as I really don't want to be running around rural areas of Kansas with limited visibility, since the wildlife around here seems to have been inbred with some sort of kamikaze instinct. So off to O'Reillys I went today - another group of people with whom I've become too familiar. Ten bucks for a headlight, and I was on my way home through the ice and slush and snow that just made me all the more chipper (not). I debated whether or not to change the headlight and thought about putting it off, but with even more brutal weather on the horizon I figured I'd be better off just doing it.
I got home and determined that according to the directions, I should only need a Phillips head screwdriver. Bonus! I chased the youngest two inside and started on my mission with snow falling around me. After struggling with it a bit (not wearing gloves'll do that to ya) I realized that I needed some other funky tool to get the housing off from around the headlight - some torx something-or-other (would have known that ahead of time had I read ALL of the instructions). Since I managed to maintain custody of all of the tools, I was actually able to find it and tear the thing apart. I replaced the headlight, put it all back together again, and even aligned the headlights better than they've been since I bought the thing.
Now, if I could only get the oil leak fixed as easily.....*sigh*
It's funny to me though....people tell me all the time that they're so impressed with the things that I do by myself. The thing is, I don't think it's anything that impressive.I grew up with a father who fixed EVERYTHING, and I watched. I don't see the point in paying someone to fix something if I can do it on my own. Granted,there are things that I can't do by myself, either because I just don't know how or I don't have the tools, but there are so many simple things that I have done. To me, it's not to amaze people or to show off a skill - to me it is simply survival. I've been in survival mode for so long now that I'm not sure what I would do otherwise. If there's one thing that I've learned over the past few years, it's that I'm a lot stronger than I ever thought I was. I think that a lot of people are too - but they have to discover it for themselves. No one taught me how to fend for myself - it was a by-product of putting myself into a lot of crappy situations. I know that I'm not totally out of the crap yet - but I'm getting there. One day at a time, one battle at a time. Sooner or later, the crap will all be behind me - then the trick will be to not trip and fall back into it.