Toyota’s Christmas present

Every wake moment now, my thoughts wander to the terrible “Christmas present” that Toyota delivered to us Friday. T. took the car in for a pre-inspection that morning and got to borrow a little Yaris so he could get home and take “Sparky” to his little Chirstmas party. While baking the last set of cookies, the ominous phone call came and I heard T. say “28 ooo” in a grave voice. He came out and wanted my advice as to what to do.

In June, he had the car in on service for our drive to France. He came back and said that when we got back, he needed to go in and have the breaks replaced. Now, he tells me, that it will cost 28 000! I screamed and said that Toyota is trying to rob us, that they always find faults to give themselves work and that independent mechanics do not charge as much. I was completely hysterical. 28 000! Where are we going to find that sort of money? How much is 28 000 Swedish kronor? 3243 Euros. 2644 Pounds. 4275 Dollars.

While I prepared the last cookies to go in to the oven, we discussed what we can do. We still have not paid off our France trip. A couple of more months left. 4 I think. The camera bought for the London trip, has two more payments. And the change of summer tires to winter tires that cost us 232 Euros/189 Pounds/305 Dollars, has three more payments to go. With sadness in my heart I realized that “Cookie” and I ought never have gone to London. If we had only known. The camera I guess is a drop in the Ocean. But the France trip payments are not! We had to go this past summer though if we were ever going to get to go. Daniel is 18. This was something I wanted to do with him before it is too late. He did not get a summer job this year but he has hopes for next year, if he starts searching really early, like in January. That will be his last summer holiday before graduating from school in 2014. Then he will be off on a mission for two years and when he gets home, he will be 22 and well, let’s say, it will be time for him to start his own life.

The winter tires were also a necessity since there is a law that states that we have to have them on. I wouldn’t dare to go driving without them anyway. But a Toyota Hiace cost so much more when it comes to everything, including changing the tires. A tiny little car can get away with 400 kronor to have theirs put on, but we pay maximum. Options then? Sell the car to one of the companies that keep on sending us papers that they want to buy it. They ship them to Africa to use them as buses there. Then we would have to either buy a new car and pay for it, for the next five years. Or bag having a car and buy me a month card for the bus. Every day I would have to take “Sparky” on the bus to town to fetch his brothers. Eventually I would get so tired of that sort of life for myself, two hours on the bus every day, that the children would have to quit the school in town and start a regular council school, here in the village instead. That would be detrimental for “Kitty” who would be forced to go on ADHD medicine for the next ten years. And “Boo” would be forced in to the fold and not be allowed to be his own little person. Swedish council school does not allow individuality which is why all the “free” schools popped up in the 1990s, to give people an option, an option to be different. What a future for my boys!

We drove down to Toyota Friday to find out what on earth is going on. As I suspected, it wasn’t just the breaks that was the problem. Basically everything is suddenly wrong with it. Oil leakage. I haven’t seen any spots of oil on the ground! I was so livid that I asked them if I have been driving around in a death trap. They said no. But that it is wear and tear damage all over. There are no new Hiaces to buy. They rarely come on the market. But they kept on saying, it’s not a bad car, just a lot of wear and tear right now. Right. That helps me a lot! T. had thought about that perhaps we should get a smaller car for me to fetch children with. On Sundays, the surplus people needing to travel, would have to take the bus to church. And we could never go on holiday ever again. Not even to the beach or anything. Every journey, anywhere, had to be logistically solved at the time. Like dentist appointments, any kind of out of the ordinary trip, would need the most careful planning. I don’t know that I can live like that with all other stress there is in a big family. And two smaller cars is also out of the question since that means double everything. Double car tax, double tires, double insurance, double service. Not to mention the petrol.

What options do we really have? Toyota suggested finally, to take it to the inspection, knowing there are lots of problems, hoping that the inspection people will not find or care about some of the things that Toyota thinks ought to be fixed. And then decide. Then fix what they order us to fix. But Toyota only have a four month paying plan. I grew up, never buying anything on credit. But T. grew up in a family that was always high in debt. That is why his dad left his mother and asked for a divorce. All her shopping was hurting his career. It was driving him mad that when he had finally paid off her purchases, she had bought more on credit. I never thought I would stoop so low as to buy things on credit. But only having one income, has made it necessary. We can not take big blows. Not with high electricity bills, high water bills, high garbage collection bills. They just raise and raise the price, and you get less and less for the money. It’s inhumane, and yet services we can not live without. And the communcal association is soon going to ask us for 6000 kronor/916 Euros/566 Pounds/916 Dollars for building out the cable system somehow so that all our households can get cheaper broadband and telephone service.

To tell the truth, I feel so guilty for not being able to contribute to the household income. Lacking my bachelor thesis, and thereby lacking the degree. If I could have earned something on my writing. T. suggested Friday that perhaps I could translate. But you need a degree from University that says that you are a translator! Everything feels so hopeless right now! It doesn’t feel fun to celebrate Christmas having this dark cloud hanging over us. I haven’t been to the dentist for 17 years. I need new eye glasses since I can hardly see anymore. Why did we go to France at all? Why did we go to London, “Cookie” and me? If I had known what was to come, I never would have. I would have saved for the rainy day that was coming up so soon!

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