Did you ever have a stuffed animal as a child that you loved dearly? One that you loved long after it lost its sleek new fur, its eyes fell out, and the seams started to pop open?
That same sort of attachment is what I felt toward our old van. My brother found it on Craigslist for an incredible deal while we were in law school. It may have been dented and scraped and have its seats torn apart, but after sharing a two-door Civic (and cramming two carseats into the back), I wouldn’t have traded our old beat-up Sienna for the coolest two-door car on the globe.
The thought of parting with it made me sad. But there came a point when it simply wasn’t worth fixing anymore and we had to begin the search for a new-to-us van.
That proved to be more challenging that I thought. We’d set aside money for the purchase, but when it came time to look, most of the cars we found were either under $2,000 (and looked about ready to fall apart) or over $15,000. We spent hours one Saturday driving by dozens of used cars lots and found a grand total of two vans in our desired price range. I combed Craigslist for days with equally discouraging results.
Then Joshua called one day saying that he passed by a lot on his way to an appointment with a couple vans on it, one of which looked promising. The kids and I headed over to take a look and I instantly loved it. It was another Sienna, but newer and safety-inspection-passable (definitely a plus!)
Joshua came over to test drive it and we decided if we could trade-in our old van and get the price down a little, we would buy it.
Joshua told the salesman our desired price, the salesman took our van on a test drive, and came back.
When he countered with the trade-in amount for our van, I instantly blurted out, “Yes! That sounds great!” He offered us even more for the van than what we’d paid, the the total price was still several hundred more than what Joshua originally asked for.
“Can we come up with the extra money?” Joshua asked me, trying to make a little room to negotiate.
“Yes!” I answered obliviously.
He smiled at me and said, “Okay.”
We signed papers, wrote a check, and traded keys. Not until we were leaving did he say with a grin, “You know Babe, usually people negotiate when buying a car.”
In the excitement of the moment I had totally forgotten. Thankfully, Joshua wasn’t the least bit upset, but I was upset with myself. What if we could have saved $100, $500, or even more if I had just been quiet for a whole two seconds?
I love the van and am so grateful we found it, but it was a good lesson for me to think before I speak. [And leave any negotiating in the future in Joshua’s much more capable hands!]
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” James 1:19