Choosing Lunar Silver felt as stupid and necessary a choice as finding a different shimmery brown color than Sable. I pulled my shit together, crying hot tears over the color that I actually wanted, and went into the showroom.
“Alright let’s go with the silver.”
“Are you sure?”
“Not really, but I feel like I need to just be ok with it.”
“You don’t have to be ok with anything.”
Actually, in this life, you have to be ok with a lot.
“No, it’ll be good. Clean slate. New color.” I forced my confidence.
We started the paperwork. I scrolled Instagram as I waited and happened upon this quote:
“Don’t ignore the signs you asked for.”
Ugh, I don’t want t a light blue minivan.
Stop it. Stop being dramatic. It’s not light blue. The “sign” is that everyone is really supportive of silver being a clean slate. Don’t you want a clean slate. Don’t you want a way to forget. Stop clinging to grief.
Our sales lady returned, I put away my phone, and we started to go line by line through the bill of sale. All the usual for a new car. A price that seems like a small home mortgage, sales tax that I had forgotten about and made me want to throw-up in my mouth, and $499 for accessories.
We asked about this random line item and in quintessential car salesperson style, our sales lady casually explained that it was an additional, but not really optional, just a little something they “do for their customers” thing that involved a warranty protection on the paint and leather made possible by a Scotchgaurd coating on everything.
Scotchgaurd. Friends, it’ like the teflon of upholstery. In the way teflon creates a “oh this pan doesn’t allow anything to stick to it!” situation, Scotchgaurd makes liquid ball up on the surface of fabric/upholstry. Which is fun, and full of terrible toxins.
“Well,….shit.” Josh and I looked at each other, both thinking the same thing. ‘Is now the time we reveal our crazy, where we explain that we are “those people” who push back on everything in the name of clean living? I guess so.’
“Is there a way to not have that added?”
“Not really, I mean, it’s done right when the cars arrive from the factory.”
“Ok, but it’s not, like, a factory thing, you do it here? Are there any cars that don’t have it, here?
“Um, I don’t think so. Like I said, it is just a thing we do, to serve our customers…”
$499 of toxic shit isn’t serving me, ma’am.
“Ok. Here is the deal,” …here we go….” Our son has cancer, and… sorry, I know, it’s a lot.” I felt like I had to add that both because the statement always catches people off guard and because she looked particularly thrown by it. “And well, we just do a lot to not add extra chemicals and toxins to our life. And really, a new car, I mean, it’s chock full of toxic stuff, but to add more, especially Scotchgaurd… well, yeah, we just can’t. I mean, well, is there a car that doesn’t have it?”
She seemed to be taking it harder than most. I knew because she was holding the hot tears back. They were real buried, but I could see them. I can always see them. And she didn’t try to sell her way out of my point. She just looked at me for a half second too long that made me brace for impact.
Ugh. She is pissed. She thought she had the sale and now she may loose it on account of hippie dippie opinion on toxins.
“Let me see if we can find you guys a car without it.”
“Ok. Thanks, sorry, it’s just, yeah, sorry, we just……”
“I completely understand.”
“We’ve just been trying so hard to limit toxins, and…”
“I get it.”
“Ok,… this just seems like, well, if we could not have it, that’d really be….”
“My brother had childhood cancer. I’m going to find you a clean car.”
She turned away before the hot tears escaped, but I saw her hand wipe them away as she walked across the showroom.
Oh wow, that was a turn I wasn’t expecting. Damn.
She returned some moments later and explained that every car on the lot had already had the process done, with exception to two cars that came in yesterday. They were still covered in factory plastic, and she wasn’t entirely sure their color, but likely Lunar Silver since it’s the most popular, so it’d be an equal trade. She had sent her manager back to figure things out.
I asked her about her brother. Because that’s what I do. Because thats what we should all do when we see someone hiding the hot tears. She told me about him. He brother, four years older, who battled Osteosarcoma for 4 years, from 13 to 17, before finally passing away. She told me that he was a “quintessential big brother”, her “everything”, and through the hot tears that at this point just rolled freely down her cheeks, she told me that she was “just glad to have him for 14 years.” That is how she had made sense of the horror, with gratitude.
She shared these details with me, but for most of our wait we just sat in silence. We knew it was both too much to talk about and it could never be enough. There was not enough time to understand the full scope of what any of this meant.
“I was hesitant on the color because our old van was the darker gray, the Modern Steel, and I just have a lot of memory tied up in that car.” I said after a couple minutes of silence. “It feels like home. I love that color so much. But I just want a new start, you know, that’s why I went with the silver.” This time, my hot tears falling.
“I get it.” she said, handing me a tissue. And this time, I knew she did.
I apologized again for being a burden, and delaying this process. She assured me that she wasn’t sending me home in a Scotchgaurd car. Soon enough her manager returned.
“Ok, we have two vans that shipped in today, so we have to get the plastic off and what not, but problem is they don’t have Lunar Silver: both the vans are Modern Steel.”
I you want to learn more about Scotchgaurd and why I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole, you can check out the resources below. Any google search will also get you there. It used to be made with a highly toxic, fluorocarbon called PFOS, but upon realizing that their factory workers had measurable levels in their blood, they thought they should pivot, and now instead produce it with a different toxin, a touch less toxic, but requiring more to be effective, perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS). My thoughts: You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.
The Guardian article from 2000, before the composition was changed.