My Story: Chapter Twenty-One

I Bought My First Car In My 40s

Used but awesome

Woman hanging out of car
Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

After I totaled my car I felt like giving up. Maybe I wasn’t meant to do life alone and should go back to the abuser. Getting on my own two feet was a lot of work!

The morning after my accident I woke up feeling much better and ready to stop wallowing in despair. Amazingly, I wasn’t in much pain at all. The bruises hurt if I touched them but otherwise I felt fine. I believe my seat belt protected me from serious injury. I was worried about not having a way to get to work but I tried to stay in curiosity about what would happen instead of depression about what had happened.

I called my supervisor and told her I had wrecked my car. One of the ladies who worked at the shelter offered to drive me to my manager’s house early the next morning so she could take me to work. I would have to go home with her that night and stay at her house. I gratefully agreed.

We woke early the next morning and she drove me to my supervisor’s house. It was before sunrise and I felt guilty for making her wake up so early. I couldn’t even afford to buy her a coffee for the favor.

We had an hour and a half drive that day each way to our worksite. After our long work day my supervisor and I stopped at a few used car lots but no one would finance me. I didn’t have enough cash for the downpayment they wanted. I was also trying to keep my car payment under $300 a month but they all wanted close to $400. Things were not looking good but I tried not to think about it.

My supervisor asked if I wanted to spend the night at her house since we had work the next day. I agreed since it would be much easier than spending the night at my friend’s house and having her get up early again. She washed my scrubs for me since I didn’t have a clean set with me. I was really winging it. I had never done anything so spur of the moment before and felt like another level of freedom was opening up for me.

After work the next day the shelter manager picked me up and took me back to the shelter. I was off for the rest of the week and had some time to try to figure out how to get a car.

I had already gotten prequalified with some online options but they all wanted more than I had for a down payment. I felt like I was running up against a brick wall everywhere I turned. Again, I decided to hold onto hope instead of despair and see what happened.

One of the ladies who lived at the shelter was married to a car salesman. She set up a phone call for us and he said he had a car I could look at. We went the next day and I test drove the car he had available. It was smaller than I hoped but fit my budget so he set about trying to get me a loan. None of the usual banks would work with me so he called a local bank and set up a meeting for me with the loan officer who agreed to see me within the hour.

We drove over to the bank and I was ushered into a private office. The loan officer had a few questions for me but really wanted to know what my story was. I told him where I lived, about the job I had, and how I was starting my life over. I showed him my bank statements and paycheck stubs and he ran my credit. He said they would finance the car for me. I breathed a sigh of relief. It would be a three-year loan with a low-interest rate, a much better deal than anything else I had looked at.

After all the papers were signed it was time to drive my new car back to the shelter with my friend following me. This was the newest car I had ever driven and a hybrid to boot. My friend wanted to make a stop in town before we stared our long drive back so I followed her.

After our quick shopping trip it was time to get on the road but I couldn’t figure out how to start the car. My friend called her husband who drove over and he showed me again how to start the car. I felt so silly. Part of the problem was that the car is so quiet when the engine is running that I didn’t realize it was on and ready to go. I was glad I had my car troubles where someone could help me right away instead of on a work morning.

We made the hour drive back to the shelter slowly on the dark backcountry roads. I was so nervous I would wreck my new car but we made it safe and sound.

The next day I had to get up early and go to work. I was able to start my car this time and made it to work without any difficulties. After work, we had a celebration for one of our coworkers and my car wouldn’t start when it was time to drive there. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong and figured I was confused about how to start the car again. I grabbed my owner’s manual and got a ride with a coworker to lunch. As we were eating I read the manual and thought I was just starting the car the wrong way again.

My coworker drove me back to my car after lunch and stayed with me while I tried to figure out my car. I still couldn’t start it. She had more experience than I did and looked at the dials on my dash and found that I had left the lights on and my battery was dead. Wow, I felt like a fool for the second time in less than twenty-four hours with my new car. Being a grown-up woman who was expected to take care of herself was really hard.

We popped the hood and looked at the battery. She had no experience with electric cars so we began googling how to jump-start my car. Google was no help. There were warnings about how things could go very wrong and I began envisioning us being thrown six feet in the air from the jumper cables.

A man walked by and my coworker flagged him down. Ha! We had been up since early morning, crazy hair, black scrubs. He seemed hesitant to even walk over to us but finally listened to our sob story and decided to help. He ignored all the warnings on google and hooked up the jumper cables and my coworker started her car as I inched further and further away. Nothing happened besides my battery charging and we were soon on our separate ways home.

Again, I somehow walked right around a disaster and carried on with my life as if nothing had happened.

I finally had time to check out my car a little more closely and realized it had almost every option offered the year it was made. Every time I get into my slightly used car I feel spoiled and grateful. My car is nicer than anything the abuser and I ever had while we were married. How is that for some kind of justice? My kids love it and my son was impressed by my sound system. Win-win-win.

If you would like to catch up on the rest of my story please click HERE

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