After mishaps, family must press on to Plan B

October 23, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

So much for best laid plans.

In a recent column, I referenced my minivan. I shared that I'd gone three months without a vehicle waiting to find just the right one. I'd cared for it, maintained it and paid it off. I'd turned more than 200,000 miles on it, and it was still going strong.

My husband and I had plans for the money we weren't spending on a payment. We weren't thinking of an exotic vacation or an upscale television. We intended to put the monthly amount toward debt we'd unavoidably accrued during a crisis. We were eager to get it paid off.

While we were busy making plans, life happened.

A couple weeks ago, I ran my minivan into a curb. The reality of the damage I'd incurred hit when my mechanic called.


"I'd highly recommend you call your insurance agent and make a claim," he told me.

I conceded. About a week and a half and many new suspension components later, I picked up my van from the shop and headed off to work.

It had been raining all day. As I traveled the ramp onto the interstate, I consciously thought of the insurance claim - my first in about 15 years. The on-ramp curved sharply, and I resolved to drive slowly with extra caution.

Before I even finished the thought, my van slid and thrashed to one side, then whipped around, spinning on the road. At some point, the vehicle connected with the incline of a guard rail, and I rode the metal sideways for 20 or 30 feet before coming to a halt. The front end of my "Old Faithful" minivan was lobbed in a mound of mud. The middle rested on the unrelenting rail, and the rear end jutted into the air several feet above the ground.

I had a mad momentary delusion of me removing the van from the guard rails and fixing the extensive damage myself. But because I don't possess mechanical skills or superpowers, I have another insurance claim pending instead.

My first claim was forgiven, but this one will not be. Insurance reps say they'll likely determine the vehicle a total loss. I'm still waiting for the final word.

I knew the minivan wouldn't last forever. But I'd hoped to have it a while longer. Deductible costs, car rentals, increased insurance rates and imminent automobile payments were not on my radar.

I commonly write of life's pleasures and gratifying moments. My columns speak to budget-friendly routes to satisfying meals, comfy homes and idyllic outings. I value these things, and readers tell me they do too.

But I don't want to suggest a whitewashed, home decor magazine world where people read and say, "Yeah, right."

Life gets messy, rough and expensive. To present it as anything else would be disingenuous. Sometimes, despite best laid plans, things just fall apart.

The shower leaks through the kitchen ceiling. My 2-year-old tosses his uncle's eyeglasses out the car window while cruising down the highway. I crash Old Faithful twice in two weeks.

When things run amuck, I might wallow in frustration and what-ifs for a day or two. But then it's time to espouse a positive attitude and do what I can to get back on track.

When Plan A doesn't pan out, it's off to B and C, with conviction that no matter how taut or frayed the ends are, that somehow they will meet.

I fasten my seat belt for the ride.

Alicia Notarianni is a reporter and feature writer for The Herald-Mail. Her e-mail address is .

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