How our Mitsubishi van became blue…

As I was entering my daughter’s new-to-her minivan yesterday, I noticed something.

“Ah! It has a sunroof,” I stated. It was simply an observation, but my daughter made it so much more.

“Well, I hope it lasts longer than the one we had on the Mitsubishi.”

And that started the memories.

A.J. with the blue Mitsubishi.
A.J. with the blue Mitsubishi.


I married into the white Mitsubishi van, much as I’d married into four children. I sold my house, my 1989 Honda Civic, and gave my house cat to the roommate I left behind as I fully embraced being Sara Dagen, instant mother of four, driver of a minivan by necessity.

It was cooler than it sounds. This minivan drove like a little sports car but looked like a mini bus. The engine was under the front seats, so the van had nothing extending out beyond the windshield. Like most minivans, it had a bench seat across the back and two captains chairs in the middle — and a sunroof above those. That sunroof played a role in how the white van became blue. My son A.J. had more of a role.

The problem with driving a van so cool and unique is that it makes you conspicuous. Wherever we Dagens went, people noticed. Well, I don’t know if perfect strangers noticed us, but the van was distinctive and those who knew we owned it were quick to wave at us or tell me later, “I saw you at …”  I was usually too busy telling four plus one children to sit on their hands instead of mess with each other or singing wildly with Psalty the singing songbook adventures on our cassette player to notice. (Steve and I added one child along the way.)

At some point, the sunroof started leaking. I believe we had stopped at a car wash on our way home from church one Sunday, as the children always enjoyed watching from inside the car. When we pulled out of the gas station, a gush of water suddenly poured through the closed sunroof window, soaking the baby and whoever was sitting in the other captains chair. I believe my husband was able to fix the problem that time, but later in the Mitsubishi’s life, the sunroof was a complete liability.

The last few years of the Mitsubishi’s life, we carried plastic bins in the car, ready for passengers to catch falling water lest we drive in rain, positioned strategically to catch rainwater when we were parked. It made driving a bit more dynamic — as the passengers had to be involved in water catching and the onslaught of moisture inside the vehicle demanded creative responses to dealing with the foggy windows. It was more than a bit scary at times.

Eventually, I graduated to another van — an Oldsmobile Silhouette, which is quite similar to the Chevy Venture and a couple other models by General Motors car brands. While I drove incognito, my son A.J., then 16, inherited the Mitsubishi van.

At this point, the van attracted even strangers. When parked in our driveway.

One day, a man knocked on the front door to our house and I opened it. He asked about the Mitsubishi, said his parents had a Mitsubishi van that looked similar but had a bad computer they couldn’t replace.

“I thought maybe the two vans could get together,” this complete stranger told me.

(Definitely the weirdest pickup line I’d ever heard.)

“My parents’ van has a nice exterior but an interior that doesn’t work,” he explained. “Your van has an interior that works but an exterior…” (and there he wisely ended his sentence).

“Anyway,” he shrugged. “It was just an idea. Here’s my parents’ address if you want to go see it. They would probably sell it for about $500.”

“What is this near?” I said, peering at a strange address.

“You don’t know? I thought you did mail delivery.”

“No, why would you think that?”

“I saw all those plastic bins for letters and packages in your van.”

I laughed and explained that those bins were merely for catching water when the roof leaked. I think that made his point, actually. He also took the time to explain the strange location of his parents’ home.

After I told my husband about this incident (and got scolded for opening the door to a stranger), I tossed the Post-It note with the address. My husband knew the engine of this vehicle inside and out, and while the exterior was less than sound, the most important part was highly maintained. He had no interest in merging the two vehicles.

A week or two later, he changed his mind. Our son A.J. crashed the Mitsubishi into a tree (long story). Because he ran over the neighborhood cable box en route to the palm tree, the collision brought people out of their homes. Because it was in our neighborhood, parents of A.J.’s friends intentionally brought their children out to show them what not to do. Most important, because A.J. crashed into a tree, the body of the Mitsubishi was totaled. But because the engine was located under the front seats, it suffered no injury.

Though I had no address, I remembered the odd location of the blue Mitsubishi van at the stranger’s parents’ home. The children and I surreptitiously drove the oddly private public one-lane road over a small bridge to this house and left a note. A few interactions later, the blue van was ours and the merging of the two vehicles began.

Our Mitsubishi van became blue — and bin-less. It didn’t have a sunroof or a sunroof leak, which was a good thing.

I hope my daughter and son-in-law have better luck with theirs.


Posts for NaBloPoMo 2015:

  1. Why I love my hairstylist…
  2. To NaBloPoMo or not to NaBloPoMo? That is the question…
  3. No AC November…
  4. That dubious gift of an hour…
  5. I can’t wait to be discovered…
  6. Once an English teacher, always an English teacher…
  7. Of mice and men (or when you give a mouse a cookie)…
  8. When you replace people with possessions…
  9. Do what you know is right…
  10. When your eyes are bigger than your weekend…
  11. Attempting “The Glad Game”…
  12. When the Christian life is a bit too much like a political debate…
  13. Vertigo: When the world around you begins to spin…
  14. How our Mitsubishi van became blue…

One response to “How our Mitsubishi van became blue…”

  1. Mike Avatar

    Wish I had a Mitsubishi van. Found your story while looking for one. If you guys ever think about selling it let me know. Cute story 🙂


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