I’m not typically one to be overly concerned about the physical appearance of my functional physical possessions so when my van, Bebe the Bimbo Box, was turned into a golf ball by hundreds of hail divots I originally wrote it off as an aerodynamics enhancement. It was only after I noticed the cracked windshield that I started seeing dollar signs and let my friends convince me that after throwing money into the insurance system my entire adult life, it was time to cash in.
There were so many cars waiting for inspection after the massive hail storm in Austin that I had to set up an appointment two weeks in advance. When I rolled it into one of the four inspection bays I parked next to a shining 1940s era pickup with no visible damage. Clearly the idea of cashing in was getting around. The next car I saw had received a bit less of a peppering than mine, but the car was much newer and nicer. The well dressed Indian woman who drove it away was aghast that they were quoting $3600 worth of damage. That’s when I started to get nervous. Bebe is only worth about $4200.
Bebe’s original role in my life was as a cheap ride to Burning Man. I had a crew of people eager to wander lost through dust storms in a waterless desert wearing tutus but none of them owned a car. When I looked into rentals it was quickly obvious that I could do a much better job buying a van, writing it off as a business expense (I planned to shoot more footage) and then selling it as soon as the tax year rolled around on January 1st.
When I found her Bebe was being sold off to earn money for a Cancer nonprofit. She just needed just a bit of spit on a rag and an alignment to be road ready. I looked no further. She’s a Honda Odyssey, the first model made in 1995, and so at almost 250,000 miles still had plenty of life left to get us to Nevada and back.
The adventure was executed perfectly, with only one brief gaff when the speedometer went out and I was lead to believe that we’d prematurely donated all of our transmission fluid to the barren texas landscape from whence it came. We got to Burning Man and back without a speeding ticket and on returning ripped out all of the protective plastic we’d carefully taped over the interior. With the playa dust out, she was beautiful and ready to sell. There was only one catch: I had fallen in love.
I mean, come on, Hondas have troopered me through thousands of road trips and, unlike my Accord, I don’t have to wake up in the trunk in a ball when I sleep in the back! Better yet, Bebe has a rear bench seat that folds completely into the floor. With a little mattress I can almost beat out a VW Microbus with 60X the reliability!
Bebe is also the ultimate stealth vehicle. The bumper stickers on the back are all about “jr. high honors student” and, “My kid is in the high school band”. This was, at first glance, all very amusing until we found the note in the glove box, the clue that revealed the truth about the van’s true role as a carefully crafted mob cover vehicle. The signed note read, “please excuse Sylvia from school today, she isn’t feeling well.” It was all a little too perfect.
At last the bouncing little inspector who had been crawling around my dear friend and tapping on an electronic tablet returned. “There are more than 200 dents in the hood alone. You’re looking at about $7000 in damage. It’s probably totaled.” At first, my heart sank. But the future isn’t so bleak just yet. Apparently if the cost of repair is greater than the value of the car, the insurance company will either buy the car from you for its value or give you some chunk of the money to get it fixed and refuse to offer comprehensive insurance in the future.
I’ve spent a lot of years and extra money sticking with State Farm based on their reputation for treating customers well when it was time for money to flow the other direction so I’m hoping this will work out for the best. If all goes well I’ll be able to fix the windshield, resign to the fact that I’ll never be able to sell her, and thereby justify turning Bebe into an outrageous art car!
Please feel free, dear reader, to flood me with suggestions for what that might look like..!