I was really excited to be accepted to Western Michigan University’s Master of Arts in Spanish program in the summer of 2000. I would have a teaching assistantship, and that would greatly help offset the costs of my studies. Besides, I had lived in Kalamazoo before and knew it was a cool town with great people. Still, Traverse City was where I called home and after a couple of weeks of getting settled into my cozy apartment near WMU’s campus, I was really anxious to head north for a long Labor Day weekend to do some camping and see friends and family. It was a stifling hot Friday afternoon when I left Kalamazoo. All I could think about was getting back to beautiful northern Michigan, where the temperatures would be cooler and the atmosphere soothing and unhurried.
I was tootling along US131 North in my ’89 Ranger when the engine started knocking and rattling, and my first thoughts were “this is it! this vehicle is going to the salvage yard before it even makes it to Grand Rapids!”. I limped along until I could find the nearest exit off the highway. Lucky me, there was one not far at all and it was the exit to Wayland, about thirty miles up the road from Kalamazoo. My luck didn’t end there; it just so happened there was a Ford dealership right off of the highway, and I gingerly drove my two-tone blue pick-up truck (with a dark blue topper) into the parking lot and walked into the showroom. I didn’t bother looking for the Service Department; it was about 4:00 in the afternoon and I knew there was nothing they could do for me short of replacing the motor, so I was resolved to either buy or lease a new vehicle from these guys before I spent a night (or two?) in Wayland, Michigan waiting for I-don’t-know-what to happen that might save me from a dead vehicle, and a ruined trip. I had to get another vehicle, period. If I had any hopes of getting to Traverse City for the weekend, I had to deal with Wayland Ford. There were no other good options. Well, they certainly were willing to help me! I mean I had little or no bargaining power at all at that point: Kalamazoo was thirty miles behind me, and Traverse City was still about 140 miles north. I suppose I could have taken a cab back to my apartment, and sulked the weekend away while shopping for a deal around Kalamazoo. No, I wasn’t going to do that. I was going to get to Traverse City!
To make a long story short, I spent probably close to two hours in the dealership when I left with a new Ranger pickup and a four year lease. The pickup was awesome compared to what I drove in: it had rear jump seats, a V6 instead of an in-line 4 cylinder, and air conditioning. Besides, it had no dings or scratches–something my old Ranger had plenty of. I’m sure I got a bad deal on the lease, just like I am sure I wasn’t prepared to buy a car that day, either. But I got back on the road, and I got back on the road in style. And sometime around 7 or 8 o’clock, I arrived in Traverse City and was so glad to be there. It might not have happened. Sometimes getting stranded is not the end of the world, but it can be the end of a car. I was fortunate to be able to get out of what could have been an ugly situation. It cost me financially, but it didn’t cost me my plans and my dreams for the long Labor Day weekend. I am on my third Ford vehicle now, so I guess you would have to say I have been pretty satisfied with them in spite of that one mishap in September of 2000. Yes, Traverse City really is that good! If you have a chance to go, don’t miss out.