It's here. My van. My new home, eventually. It's a Ford Transit. The long wheel base, with the high roof. In white-van-man white. And a few special features, but we will discuss that later.
Funny, I'd been calling it a 'he' and as I sit here to write, I instinctively want to call it a 'she'. Any way, I bought it last week, but I've not told my family about it yet. I don't particularly want to hear their complaints. Besides, my parents aren't talking to me.
On the day I bought the van, I had woken up and decided that was the day I was going to buy a van. I'd been procrastinating, as ever. That day I went to see 6 vans. They have been nicknamed thus; blue van, crash van, screwdriver van, floating lock van, fake service van and special feature van.
I woke up early to view the blue van, it was about 45 minutes from where I was and I needed to be there at 10am. It was a light-blue, ex water-board van. Lovely colour, looked outwardly decent. Inside however was rather odd, as there were additional panels fitted to the dash for flashy lights and a 10,000 CD multi-changer [slight exaggeration] There were giant speakers in the back, more weird wires and strange built in structures, covered in a horrendous carpet. Next.
I met crash van that afternoon in Walthamstow. I went through the back of a 'Caribbean Restaurant'. The van was there. Outwardly decent. However it was trapped in, with cars blocking on all sides. He called a man, he moved his car. Whilst he was trying to get the van out, I could finally see it properly. The rear doors did not shut properly, neither did the side door. Also noticed black smoke. Then whilst struggling to get it out, he hits a parked car. The situation was more awkward that you can imagine. So I'm standing there, whilst they're arguing about the car. Giant black van man pretending he didn't do it, and VW Golf owning Asian-rude-boy getting 'upset'. I don't want a test drive any more, not only due to the new dent. After receiving a 'look' from giant black van man, I went on the test drive [down two roads as he had no insurance or tax] said no thanks and got the hell out of there.
Screwdriver van was in Chingford. We had to call the dealer, as he was next door in the pub. Good start. This was the most expensive van on the list, by £1000. He gave us the key and said, it's over there, take it for a drive if you want. After pausing in shock we went over there. That is the difference between Chingford and Bethnal Green. It was scratched to shit. Both of the chairs looked like they had been attacked by a starving rabbit. The central locking didn't work. I pressed every button combination possible, but for the love of toast, the drivers door just would not open. The side door had been jimmied. Twice. Went to open the bonnet, which you need the key for. There was no keyhole. So we went back across the road, told him about the central locking and the bonnet. He denied any issues with the locking, and in regards to the bonnet, his mate turned round and stated 'oh yeah, that's the one that needs a screwdriver'.
Floating lock van, was somewhere in Dagenham. The man wasn't in so we went to find the van anyway. He lied on the advert about the size of the van, as if seeing a smaller on would convince me to change my mind. As you may know, some vans have big sticking out locks on them. Not a problem, extra security. Except that this lock was at the top. As in two inches from the roof. Shortest viewing ever.
Fake service van, also in Dagenham. We arrive and the van isn't there. It is 'parked at my uncles'. So we wait. Ten minutes later the van arrives. He tells me all about it, what he's done blah blah blah. Have a test drive, seems good, brakes need checking and stalled three times, going around the block. A new record. Looked at the paperwork. Even though I know I didn't want it, I like to practise what to look for. And it soon became apparent to me that things didn't match up. Firstly for seven years, the same person, with the same pen serviced the van. Then I noticed, he had only owned the van for six months, but it was his 'uncle' that had serviced the van. Who apparently owned it before him. Which is funny, because Asian people aren't usually called Michael White, who incidentally lived in Norfolk, two years ago. He seemed genuinely shocked that things didn't match up. That's what happens when you listen to uncle.
And that leaves us with special feature van, who previously lived in Barking. The man who owned it ran a wrestling company, and had to take out the passengers seat to fit the ring in. Not an issue as I wanted to get a single chair anyway. The special feature is on the passenger side wheel arch. Someone, who clearly never learnt how to do anything properly, 'repaired' it using filler, and apparently, a spoon. By this time it was dark, and it appeared that that panel could be removed [it can't]. All of the doors locked, closed cleanly, and the rear and side are fitted with security slam-locks. I went for a test drive and it sounded good. I looked around as best I could using a torch, and saw what I believed to be an oil leak. I called someone I knew, that broke up cars, and picked him up so he could have a look. He said it was alright. I bought the van. For £200 less than asking price. I was happy with my bartering skills. I have since spent that £200 correcting things that I did not notice on the day. But that is for another time.
I sat in the car, and took out insurance using my tablet, as it was totally uninsured. I asked my 'friend' to drive that car to mine, whilst I drive the van. It was a fifteen minute journey. What could go wrong. A lot it would seem. He broke the clutch. Killed it. Dead. He calls me. "Your car is outside Costcutter". Now I'm 10 minutes from 'home', and I don't know where bloody Costcutter is. So I turn around the giant van, that I've barely got used to driving forward, and try to find the car. It was 5 minutes away. Why not ring me sooner? Thankfully I was swift about getting there, because I found the car ABANDONED half way into the road and UNLOCKED. With all my things in the back, including this very laptop I am using today. I couldn't believe it either, I mean how can someone do that? So after going into an almighty panic, looking through the car to make sure anything hasn't been stolen, I draw my attention to the van, which I had hastily dumped on the side of the road. It needed to move I hadn't found the keys for the car yet, so I had to ask CC man to watch it whist I parked. Thankfully, the ex's boss had made a mistake, he was still home and he came to the scene of the crime. By then I'd found the keys. They were on the inside of the rear tyre. He had time to hide the keys, but not enough time to put the hazard lights on and lock the damn car. I go across the road and beg the bar staff to let me stash the car in their car-park for the night, and after hearing the story, they obliged. The ex arrived, and with the help of a pissed woman steering, we pushed the car up the mini-hill to the parking spot.
Emotional, shattered from my van buying escapades, we move on. Four hundred yards from home I saw blue flashing lights and pulled over to let them pass, only to realised I've been pulled over. Really. As if I needed anything else besides a cup of tea. The van had no insurance according to their system. I had no license on me. They asked if I was the owner. I said yes, for an hour and a half. Any proof, yes new keepers supplement. And the picture on my phone of the insurance website, displaying my policy number and thanking me for choosing their company. The bid me farewell. Sometimes I love my brain for being so sensible.