I got my vehicle registration notice in the mail this month. That means I’ve had my new truck for one year, now. (It was “new” to me; it was “used” to the dealership.)
After buying and settling into our new house last year, I decided it was time to upgrade from an older-model sedan to a newer-model SUV. So I called my dad and got his input, advice, and help to find the right truck.
My dad loved car dealing. He’d been through the car selling and buying process many times through his years, and it was something he just really enjoyed. A few years before, he had helped us find our minivan. We told him what we were looking for — make, model, color, mileage, price, etc. — and a couple weeks later, he’d found it. Tada! Just like that.
He then quickly found a good buyer for the car the minivan was replacing. He was that good at the whole thing.
So last year, I told him to start looking for an SUV. I told him what I was looking for — less specifically than with the minivan — and a couple weeks later he’d found several vehicles within my range of choices.
In the two weeks while he was searching for me, I had come to be interested in the Ford Escape. It’s an SUV, but it’s not a big bus. The very first vehicle he found for me to look at was a red Mercury Mariner. The Mariner is the same chassis and body style as the Escape, (as is the Mazda Tribute); you can’t easily tell the difference between them without seeing the name plate. But the Mercury name didn’t sit well with me.
“No offense, Dad,” I said, “but a Mercury isn’t my kind of car. It’s my grandparents car.” I mean, I’d never noticed anyone under the age of 60 driving a Mercury.
He nodded, “I understand, son. But you realize it’s the same thing as a Ford Escape, right?”
Yeah, I understood intellectually. But at my gut level, a Mercury was an old person’s car.
So I passed on the Mariner without bothering to look at it in person. Within another couple weeks, he showed me some other vehicles in the same general range that I was looking for: a Jeep, a Honda, and a couple of others. Then he found a Ford Escape. It looked good in the pictures he sent me, and so we went to the dealership for a test drive. Coincidentally, it was the same dealership that had the Mercury Mariner Dad had told me about first.
I test drove the Escape, but there was a wind noise from somewhere that just bugged me enough that I couldn’t sell myself on it. While back at the dealership, after the test drive, the Mariner came into our discussion. “What the heck,” I said, “I’m here, let’s give it a test.”
It was a good looking truck. And it drove great. Yeah, I fell in love with it and bought it. So after all the other SUVs we looked at, and all the other test drives we went on after he showed me that Mariner first thing, I ended up, again going with his first find. Just goes to show, the man knew how to find the right vehicle.
That car shopping experience was the last time my dad was really up and about mostly normal. A few weeks later he went into the hospital for cancer surgery, and things went very bad for several weeks. He never completely recovered from that experience, and six months after helping me find my new truck, he passed away from the cancer.
This license registration renewal letter on my desk is a bitter-sweet reminder of a happy memory.