My car is dying.
It’s a 1994 Acura Integra with an impressive 260,000 miles on it. When I went to the Dublin Honda dealer the other day to window shop for suitable replacements, the salesman called his manager over to admire the durability of the ole girl (I assume my car is a girl, don’t ask why).
"Wow," one salesman said. "She should be in a museum or advertisement for Acura."
Apparently he thinks my car is female, as well. Thesis confirmed.
True to her gender, she’s been finicky lately. Starts only every other time I want her to. As if she’s somehow sensed the man in my life, the only one capable of caring for and fixing her, is now gone.
So this, she’s decided would be the optimal time to make my life miserable and seek her revenge.
Vindictive woman, my Acura, but I cannot complain. She’s served her duty well. I bought her six years ago, shortly after separating from my husband. I did my best to care for her with regular oil changes and tune-ups, following every instruction bestowed upon me by oil changer people, much to my ex-boyfriend’s dismay.
"You bought every service they recommended?" my ex-boyfriend used to ask, incredulously. "Why?"
"Let’s see…maybe because I know nothing about cars beyond how to drive them." I didn’t have the guts to tell him it took me two years to learn how to program the radio.
Now that my boyfriend is gone, I need a car with a warranty, a nice long warranty, preferably.
For that matter, this is my goal for my next relationship, as well. I want a warranty to protect myself from further break-ups and break-downs. At my age, a 10-year relationship warranty would probably suffice.
But I digress. What’s important … in fact even a bit miraculous…is that I recently qualified for a used car loan.
What makes this feat so remarkable, you ask? Here’s why: I have a scarlet F and a scarlet B on my credit report. About three years ago, after a failed short sale, I lost my San Ramon house to foreclosure.
Lawyers told me that meant I’d have to declare…(da, da duuuum) bankruptcy.A rather daunting, despicable thing to go through, especially on the heels of the short sale roller coaster.
What killed me was we had two buyers wanting to buy my new, perfectly beautiful house in Windemere … but the bank, know formerly known as Washington Mutual, did everything in their power to prevent the sale.
They ignored my realtor’s daily calls for nearly 10 months. When they finally did start talking to us, they lost key paperwork, tried to shut the whole deal down, saying we didn’t send paperwork that had been sent not once, but several times.
I later learned that many of these under-trained foreclosure negotiators are paid on a commission — any money they negotiate on behalf of the bank as the deal closes, they get to keep.
This is, I believe, was possibly the reason why, weeks before my house was set for foreclosure, the Washington Mutual negotiator quibbled over just $2,000. As a result of his stubbornness and irrational request, the bank let our perfectly good $700,000 offer die.
In foreclosure, our house sold for close to $500,000. Now I’m not great at math, but seems to me that was a bad deal for all of us.
For me, it meant my credit would be ruined. Lawyers advised me to declare bankruptcy as a protection from a lawsuit. That’s right, the bank, who prevented the short sale from going through could now turn around and sue me for failure to pay my loan.
Life, as anyone over 2 knows, is not fair.
So recently, two years after my bankruptcy filing, in an inexplicable fit of optimism, despite my blackened, sullied credit history, I applied for a car loan at my employer’s credit union, thinking, if anyone might trust me, perhaps they will.
After submitting my application, I immediately regretted it.
"What am I thinking? No way they are going to push a loan through with someone with foreclosure and bankruptcy on her credit report." I told myself.
But what happened was, the fellow reviewing the loan called me. He said, "I’m looking at your credit report …"
My stomach tightened, preparing for the punch. "I see you have a bankruptcy … but for some reason your credit rating is surprisingly high. Can you tell me what happened?"
I was shocked my credit rating was "high," but I explained the whole short sale story and added my theory that "maybe my credit is high now because I had perfect credit going into the bankruptcy. Never missed a payment. I wouldn’t even have stopped paying my mortgage had that not been a requirement to get the bank to talk to me."
He pointed out that I must be doing a bang-up job paying my bills to have such a high credit score in light of things. He said he’d recommend approval to his boss.
After a long weekend of holding my breath, waiting for an answer, sure enough, my loan was approved, albeit at a slightly higher rate, but approved. I felt somehow vindicated…suddenly no longer the criminal the bank negotiators had made me out to be.
Which means, now my kids and I can find a safer car, one that starts preferably. Getting the loan and making all my payments can only boost my credit score.
Lesson learned: You can recover from foreclosure and bankruptcy and other seemingly unrecoverable things.
Sometimes life surprises us with fairness. These are times of celebration.