Overnight Trip to Atlanta

I had never bought a vehicle without seeing it, test driving it, and in general fretting about the details until we bought our first GMC Sierra AT4 in Atlanta. Yes, you read that right: the first one we bought. We actually did get to test drive the second one we bought in Pittsburgh, but I am getting ahead of myself.

When we made the decision to upgrade, we knew our biggest hurdle would be the truck market. Or, as it was, lack thereof. Will did all the research and knew exactly what truck we wanted, but we could not find one anywhere in Georgia, Tennessee, or within a large radius around where we were in northern Georgia. We knew when one did show up online, we would have to act fast.

So when one showed up on a dealer’s website just outside of Atlanta, Will made a call to confirm it was there, packed up Bird for an adventure while I worked, and they took off.

However, it turned out the truck was not actually on the lot. It was scheduled to be delivered within the next 2 weeks. (This was the first of many red flags.)

Of course we know all of the stories about trusting car salesmen and to expect all of the sleeze, but we honestly did not know if or when we would be able to track down this exact truck.

So we turned over Silvy the trusty Silverado, gave the dealership our downpayment, brought home a less than desirable loaner vehicle, and prayed.

The first of my prayers in this whole senario did come true: the “check engine soon” light on the loaner came on within the first few days, so we were able to get a much more acceptable truck (i.e., I could actually get into it). One that would comfortably get us to Pennsylvania with Cate if necessary.

And necessary it was.

The initial promise of 2 weeks came and went. Then 3 weeks. Then it was time for us to head north. We had our fifth wheel to pick up, appointments scheduled, all of our plans made. The last thing we wanted to do was to hook up that truck to the trailer and head out of state, but there we were. The dealership would not give us an updated timeline (spoiler: it’s because there wasn’t one).

Once we arrived in Pennsylvania, the games the dealership were playing just continued. And now they knew we were not even closeby to show up in person.

However, soon we were needing to make payments on a truck we did not have. A truck we could not get a definitive date of delivery (though we did eventually find out was in Michigan). Even though the truck was “ours,” there was nothing we could do to get it.

Finally, the dealership agreed to undo the sale.

So, after we happened to find an AT4 on a lot in Pittsburgh, which we were able to see and test drive before we bought it, we found ourselves in a very awkward position of having responsibility for three trucks: the new AT4 in our possession, the phantom AT4, and the loaner from the dealership.

Clearly, we needed to get rid of the eight spare tires.

After a (finally answered) call to the dealership to let them know we were bringing the loaner back and would not be leaving until we had a check in hand, miraculously they were “just getting ready to call us” because they would have the check in hand on the same exact day we were planning to go to Atlanta. Imagine that.

Off Bird and Daisy went to the grandparents’, and off Will and I went at 6 AM making the 12-hour drive south caravan style with walkie talkies and all.

To say we were anxious is an incredible understatement. Of everything we have been through in the 2.5 years since Will was laid off and we began this adventure, dealing with this dealership and a truck we never actually saw was by far the most stressful situation we have encountered.

We arrived in Atlanta on Wednesday evening with plans to meet with the dealership first thing Thursday morning. Will and I did our best to enjoy our “date,” with dinner out and a kid-free trip to Target to wander the aisles, but we were 100% on edge.

To make the situation even more exciting, when we called to confirm everything was ready to go at the dealership on Thursday morning (we were not going to turn over their property until we knew they had a check waiting for us), we started getting the run around again.

Now, we had time to waste. Sure, there are thousands of things to do in Atlanta, but none of them sound enticing if you do not want to be there, spending that time. So, we turned to our trusty friend AllTrails and found a trail nearby.

Even though we were stressed to the max, getting out in nature was exactly what we needed. We saw turtles, deer, and so many birds. We wandered through woods, down a paved bike trail, and across some beautiful bridges. We did our best not to dwell on the elephant that was hiking with us (i.e., Will’s phone as we waited for it to ring).

When we finally confirmed everything was set, we were told the guy we needed to see would not be back until after lunch. Naturally.

With more time to waste, we visited the Kelsey Montague mural that we had not been able to see yet , and we found an amazing place to have brunch (which we were both able to stomach knowing there was a glimmer of hope that all of this would be over soon).

Thankfully, when we arrived at the dealership, we spent all of 10 minutes turning in the loaner and signing the paperwork to absolve the sale before we walked out with all of the money due back to us. A miracle that answered so many prayers.

Finally, Will and I were able to ride in the same truck — our now one and only truck — and start the 12-hour journey home. We arrived back in Pennsylvania in the wee hours of Friday morning, which happened to also be my birthday. A sweet, sweet birthday present, indeed.

The whole ordeal was an absolute debacle and was chock full of about a million lessons that we certainly learned the hard way. However, the silver lining of the whole thing was that in those 24 driving hours to and from Atlanta, I drove our new truck more than I had driven Silvy in the previous 2 years combined. And I did not just drive it, I loved driving it, I got comfortable driving it, and that has paid dividends since then.

While the truck we now have does not quite have all of the bells and whistles we thought we were getting to begin with, we have the truck in our possession. And, thankfully, we are only responsible for making that one monthly payment.

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