It all happened much more quickly than Sara and I had expected. We put our 1993 Volvo 240 Wagon on Craigs List last week, and within two hours it was sold. In addition to the guy who bought the car, three others called to ask if they could check it out. It got me wondering about the psychology of selling. What is the right amount of time or effort for the sale of something like a car? If it sells too quickly, you think you’ve priced it too low. If it sells too slowly, you’ve priced it too high. But what is too quick and what is too slow? I don’t know, but I bet some economist does.
What I do know is that I also seriously underestimated the effect the sale would have on our kids. When Edgar—that’s the car’s name, of course—pulled out of the driveway for the last time, the kids cried. They cried hard. They cried for 15 minutes until we managed to stop them with the bribe of watching a video during dinner.
Sara has been sad about Edgar’s departure, too, with good reason. It was a very cool car—the last of the boxy Volvo station wagons, with a third seat that faced the back. Sara drove that car a lot and didn’t seem to mind much that one door handle broke off so that nobody could open it from the outside and another door couldn’t be opened from the inside and the CD player didn’t work when the weather was cold and the driver’s side speaker was sitting, unattached, in the front passenger’s seat and the cruise control was busted and the air conditioner didn’t work and the engine was weak and the car shook at high speeds. It was still, believe it or not, a fun car to drive.
I wish I had been more aware of the rest of the family’s attachment to the car. We needed to get rid of it, regardless, but I regret not realizing that I needed to prepare the kids for it. Next time we sell a car, I’ll approach it as if we’re putting a dog to sleep. Maybe that way I’ll act with enough sensitivity.