Case in point; my van. My van is not cool. I know it's not cool. In fact it's uberly-uncool and I am completely aware of this. Please don't point it out to me. I know it's going to be hard because after all, it's not your typical mini van. I could never be cool enough to be mistaken for a soccer mom in my van. Why? Because it's white. And it's a 15 passenger van. And I look more like a plumber, electrician or delivery guy when I'm behind the wheel. At first, when the van was new, it was a real boost to my ego to be waved at by so many men but it didn't take long to realize they were waving mistakenly. They thought I was a fellow handyman van joining them on a job site, not a mother of a tribe.
I have no anonymity in my van either. Since I live in a small town, once you figure out I'm not the cable guy rumbling down your street, you know it's me. Almost perfect strangers have stopped me in public to tell me they knew I was at the library, bank or burger joint because they noticed where my van was parked.
And just for the record it does not have a beeping mechanism that engages when I go in reverse. That's reserved for ambulances and other public service vehicles.
And for your information, neither do I need a special driver's license to drive it. I hear Warren Achievement drivers need their CDL but I don't. Yes, I too admit I have been mistaken for the WAC bus. I overheard the father of my daughter's friends call out, "Halee, either Warren Achievement or your mom is here to pick you up!" And that's not all, I've also been mistaken for a church van and a newspaper delivery guy.
Once, while Christmas Shopping with my husband, I sent him out to pull up the van and help with the packages. While he was idling at the curb an elderly woman approached him and asked if he was her ride back to the home.
I even submitted my van to MTV's now canceled television show, Pimp My Ride. I thought with some cool decals, big base speakers and extra power outlets I could transform my van from not to hot. But MTV never called back and now it's too bad because my passenger side window won't roll down and only one kid can plug in their portable device at a time (which makes for really long, long distance drives to grandmas house). I'm doomed to be uncool forever.
Once, I thought about selling advertising space on my van. I know you all notice my van anyway and maybe you're small business would like to pay me to drive around with your company's logo. I recognize it won't help my alleviate my cool factor but it will offset rising gas prices. And that's a plus, right?
I even considered getting business cards printed up and advertising with the Amish when I heard they hire van drivers for their gatherings and quilting bees. I got a call once to drive a group of ladies to a Tupperware party in Iowa but they cancelled due to an outbreak of Chicken Pox in their community. They never called me back to reschedule. That's a true story.
Oh, and one other thing, if you drive a car that is cool, please don't park next to me. I'm still dealing with the disappointment that comes with the realization I am mistakenly waved at all day long by the hard working men of white van brigade, don't heap coal on the fire by sliding your little convertible up next to me at the soccer game. Because you and I both know that if a demolition derby spontaneously broke out, my van could eat your car for lunch.
I know in our western culture judgments are made about a person based on what car they drive. And if you adhere to those standards I am the most uncool person you could possible ever know. But the truth is I am brutally aware of it and trying to rise above it. So please hold your tongue the next time your tempted to poke fun at my van. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why!
(this article appeared in the 10/11/11 edition of The Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series)