Yesterday we gave 17 year old Jake the ultimate birthday present: A stolen car.
There are several things wrong with that sentence aside from the obvious: Buying a stolen car. The most important being that we purchased a car for a kid who has failed his permit test not once but twice, and that in doing so, mom and dad left their due diligence at home in exchange for a too-good-to-be-true situation.
I’ll give some context, and let the on-line games begin.
Spoiler alert: I get that we screwed up. However, I still found a silver lining.
I wanted Jake to have a car for his birthday because I hoped it would become an impetus to finally pass his drivers permit so he could learn to drive. (That would include studying for it). I need him to take this next leap to get him to adulthood and since he has an (almost) girlfriend, and a nice big mother-in-law quarters to practice apartment life in, I figured a car would give him the drive to actually commit….and maybe even enjoy doing so.
Pippin found a great option on Craigslist and we met this kid and his girlfriend at their apartment complex (or so we thought) and took it for a test drive. We were in a hurry so we ignored any and all red flags and just handed over a wad of cash and he split—leaving us with a gorgeous BMW, a counterfeit title and a copy of (what we believe to be) his fake ID. I mean, a gorgeous BMW that now spews black smoke from it’s tailpipe, begging for a new expensive engine. Of course the kid’s phone number doesn’t work anymore.
This is the kind of thing that can easily pit husband against wife, leaving a bubbled over mess of resentment and anguish. Instead we said to each other: There are so many would’ves and could’ves —we took a gamble together and lost together. We have been so lucky and have done so well for ourselves. There’s bound to be a slip up like this in the mix somewhere. It was time, and this dig isn’t so bad. It could’ve been worse.
I can’t believe we didn’t fight. It would’ve made the situation even worse and we knew it. But we chose the high road. Well, really it was me who did, since Pippin is the one who is always so damn cool. I’m usually the one raking us over the coals…but I just didn’t. Instead I kept telling myself: That kid is in a bad spot. It must be so hard to live like that. I hope we helped him out. And….I’m glad he’s not my son.
The funny thing is that the moral of the story isn’t to be more careful next time, but rather—shit happens and it’s most important to lean in and love each other through it. As such, I’m calling this situation a serious fucking score for the home team.
The rest of the night ensued with birthday cake and watching Ghostbusters with Jake (his favorite movie). And while we likely need to give the stolen car back, I still gained something. Jake texted me on his way to school: Mom, thank you so much for the car. I know it was such a headache, but I want to get my license now more than ever. I promise to work harder for that.
After the dust of the night settled and the kids were in bed, Pippin and I finished unpacking in the new house. We poured ourselves a glass of wine and danced in our living room to a pile of records, laughing and talking until there was nothing left to be said.
However, even though the love is still in the air, none of it makes the problem go away. So we’re weighing our options. To put a lien on the vehicle and see if it can be ours (and then get expensive repairs). Or, turn it in (to whomever it belongs) and cut our losses. To drive the car downtown, park it in a high ticket area and walk away (yikes, but a good way to find the original owners quickly). Pippin has asked me not to worry about it. He’s got it, apparently.
Would love to know: What would you do in this situation?
Hustled to hell and back,