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Handing in My Keys

July 28, 2015

(or

The Cars’ Tales)

There are two members of the family that will not be going with us on our adventure. In theory we could have taken cars to Japan, but it was so impractical that it bordered on the impossible. Perhaps not for everyone, but for me it has been surprising how hard it is to say good-bye to our cars, both emotionally and logistically.

Today I handed over to keys to a car I drove for almost 8 years. I am not a car guy. The car is a tool to get from place A to place B. I realized yesterday as I was cleaning it out that I have spent a lot of time in that car. Even with a couple years of riding the bus I have probably sat behind the wheel in that car for about half a year. Most of it by myself because if we went somewhere with passengers we took the van. It was a place I associated with being alone and, while I hate sitting in traffic, I have started listening to audio books the last couple of years and if the book was really good I found myself looking forward to the drive time. With the train system in Tokyo we decided we won’t need a car in Japan so with the sale of these cars we will be carless for at least two years. I liked the idea of that a lot when we started talking about it, but now I wonder if I am losing one of my places of refuge.

I’m making more of it than I really feel. The fact that I felt any loss at all was a surprise to me. The logistical issues we faced are much more interesting than more of my introverted ruminating. We own(ed) two cars until today and even though the car (a Camry) was always called mine the title was in my name and Kira’s name together. The van (a Honda Odyssey) is only in my name. When selling the Toyota we had to both be present so we sold that today before Kira leaves on a plane in a few hours. We figured out just a few days ago that we needed to get a lien release letter from the bank to make the title clear and free. We’ve owned both the cars for a few years now, but if they ever sent us such a letter we ignored it. Calling the bank they said it would take 24-48 hours to fax it over to the dealer we were selling the car to. There was plenty of time. We showed up today and no letter. Kira then showed them the fax number on the business card the rep handed her last week and verified with him it was the right number. He agreed it was the fax number and then the employee standing next to him said, “Oh, that fax number is wrong – everyone knows that. You have to use this one.” After some back and forth on how they might handle this Kira called the bank on her cell phone (that she will no longer own tomorrow) and got someone who agreed to fax over another copy to the correct number.  Some signatures and we managed to sell the car for a decent price a mere twelve hours before Kira left the country.

The Van. The original plan was to sell the van first and I would sell my car after I used it to drive to work for another week. The names on the title reversed that plan, but while we were figuring that out Kira had planned to take the van in for an appraisal last week. Moments before she headed out the door to see what our 2006 Honda Odyssey was worth there was a screeeech! and a bang! A knock on the door a few minutes later and the contractor that has done some credible work at my mother-in-law’s house confessed to hitting the van as he backed out of the driveway. Insurance companies were called and it was revealed that his nickname is Crash. The damage was all cosmetic and not quite enough to total out the value of the van. Kira was not able to persuade Crash to run into the van again so we could just be done. Later that week Kira got an appraisal for the worth of the damaged van and at this point a few people we know became interested in acquiring the broken van. They were in the market for a beater car that they didn’t need to worry about and that was exactly what we now owned. The van has always had a few things wrong with it that we just dealt with and it seemed like once a year we had to put repairs into it. We tried to convince they buyers that they didn’t really want the van, but we failed. We gave them a pretty good deal I think and I hope they can drive the thing into the ground over the next several years.

Kanji for the day:     車     くるま     kuruma     car

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