Monday, August 4, 2008

A little Nuts, even for Me!

Just in case I needed Proof of my insanity... This might just be it! Thankfully, the man the Law considers my, Next of kin doesn't visit my Blog and has no way of Seeing inside my head; otherwise, someone might have what they need to Commit me and Run off with all of my money - Ha!

As you know, I bought William a Jeep for his birthday in February. And, for the first time in my auto-buying Life I took along some Good sense and had the vehicle inspected by a Mechanic before I accepted their terms and Price.

Good for me because that $35.00 inspection I ordered revealed $1,200 in Repairs the Jeep needed that I would not have known about without it. Although I'm glad I took the Jeep to the mechanic, I can't lie and say it wasn't the most Unpleasant experience when the mechanic came right out and Called the seller's explanation for disconnecting the battery cables a Lie. The Seller blamed his Little boy, saying the Child left the door open so the interior light ran the battery down. The mechanic said it looked more like the Seller disconnected the battery to clear the, "Check engine" light that was likely triggered by the, six different engine repair zone codes coming up on the computer. Ouch! Turns out that handy-dandy little computer Mr. Mechanic plugged in under the Dash knew all the secrets Mr. Seller was unwilling to confess!

With his Handy computer, my Fabulous-Mechanic was able to tell me the catalytic converter was broken, the muffler had holes in it so the Jeep probably wouldn't pass its next emissions test, and there was a minor oil leak at the, something-that-sounded-expensive, that could eventually cause a major problem and be a very expensive repair down the road. Finally, although the Seller told me the night before during our test drive that he just had the Air conditioner charged, my Mechanic told both of us that not only hadn't the AC unit been charged, the compressor was gone. Hey! Don't look at me... It was February in North Carolina so it Felt cold to me!

Of course, I should have walked away from the lying-sack-of-excrement and his Jeep, but he and his Wife told me they both work for a local Church (why is always the Christians?) and they were trying to Sell the Jeep to get into a mini-Van they really needed since having the second baby. The added pressure of seeing Mrs. Seller holding their baby girl and their cute little Boy standing there, the one daddy threw under the Bus to explain away the battery disconnection, was More than I could stand so I agreed to buy their Jeep.

I remember what it was like to have little Kids and I know what it takes to support them, (although babies are SO much less expensive than teenagers!) so I told the Seller that if he deducted the cost of the repairs that absolutely had to be done, (oil leak, muffler and the catalytic converter) I would take care of the cost of replacing the AC compressor myself, which I was told would cost only $400. And, what did I get for my act of Charity and kindness? Seller-wife says, "We'll do that but you have to pay our Notary fees." I said that was fine, (my account status with Bank of American provides free Notary service and cashier's checks) but when she began talking about how she had Just filled up the gas tank I gave her, The look. You know the look... and her husband knew too because the look he shot her after seeing my Look said, "Don't blow this for us, Honey!"

So I bought the Green Jeep and William loved it. Mainly because it spelled Freedom for him and had one of those 1982-James Bond-style cell phones bolted to the console so when he pushed the Buttons it sounded like Kit, the Night Rider car. However, the more I looked at the Jeep in the driveway lately, the less impressed I was. I am a stickler for Detail so how I overlooked that the headliner was attached to the roof with shiny silver thumb-tacks, I'll never know. Also, the day after the Jeep came back from having all the repairs done, (minus the AC because it was still technically winter) one of the Interior light fixtures fell out of its socket and could not be repaired. But again, William didn't much care so I rolled with it.

I told William he could drive the Jeep as soon as he got a Job (same deal my parents had with me, and the same deal we made with Brandon). And, to his credit, while the Jeep was being repaired, William landed a job at a New coffee/sandwich place downtown. I was so excited for him! Unfortunately, it didn't last and William was released from further obligation to said job before the Jeep got out of the shop. Something about refusing to work the counter because the possibility of having to Serve his friends who might come in was where William drew the line on his abilities there. As God is my witness, it's exactly what he said!

So, the Jeep has only held down the driveway since February because William believes having to work, at all, is somehow an Injustice. No... really! He told us that working is one of the, more Unfair aspects of Life and that everyone should have as Much money as they want without Ever having to work. I told him that's the same Attitude people have that PLAY THE LOTTERY for a living; however, if he wants to drive the Jeep, he'll have to get a job to Afford his gas. Unfair or Not, that's the deal! Hello!? Free Jeep, free insurance, you pay for Gas and get to drive... I don't get the Rub.

So five months go by... Five l..o..n..g months of William begging us every day and sometimes twice a day to reconsider our Position on the, job-to-get-the-Jeep thing. But this time, unlike every other time since he was born Seventeen years ago, we did not give in. Even when it caused an argument between us. Even on Prom night, we did not give in. Nope, I would not be giving in this time. Honestly! Who refuses to work because it crimps his Cool? Especially when his mother had to deliver papers to the Cute boy's house at Thirteen! And, let's not forget that at sixteen I somehow Managed to lead an active Social life while working as a Kennel worker at the Junction City Animal Shelter where I cleaned out dog runs and litter boxes every day after school!

Finally, about a month ago, William presented himself to say, "So I guess I can't Break your will on the whole, not driving the Jeep without a Job thing, and since Hanna is sick of driving us everywhere, I guess I'll have to get a Job." Yea! I'm loving, Hanna!

Long and very painful job-hunt-Story short, William has been hired, orientated and Trained to work at the new McDonald's not far from our home and relatively Close to his school. Unfortunately, a delay in Construction has pushed his start date from August to September. Still, it's a start and I'll take it!

But, in case you thought my buying a Jeep from a proven Church-working Liar is proof that I am Insane or that paying all that Money to fix a Jeep that would not be Driven for five months Qualifies me as such, you're Wrong. However, this next bit is where the Rubber of my insanity hits the proverbial Road...

So I'm at work minding my own business last week, checking the on-line employee Classified ads for fun, and what do I see? A Jeep! But not just any Jeep... This one is Better than the one I bought for William. Better in that it is a year Newer, only one-owner, has 50,000 less miles on it and comes complete with working everything, including the AC! Best part... the Interior, especially the headliner looks brand new, which also matches the condition of the Exterior. Oh, and it also has leather seats and New tires too! Best of all, the Seller is asking Less than I paid for William's Jeep in February. Sounded like a slam-dunk winner. But this is My life, and where is gets a little nuts... Even for me!

I decided that William, bless his little, anti-working-for-a-living heart, deserved something Better. I didn't say earned something better; he just deserves something better in my mind, which we've already Established is a little in question! So with the Seller agreeing to let me have first right of refusal, I immediately crafted a plan to Sell William's Jeep this weekend. I disclosed up front that the AC needed repair and I priced it so as to recoup what I paid for it as well as the documented Repairs. I'm off on Fridays during the summer so I cleaned out the Jeep (William was very busy furthering his XBOX skills and could not be disturbed), took it for a Spin through the Jiffy-wash and parked it adjacent a very Busy road where I knew I'd attract a buyer.

And, less than twenty-four hours later a Buyer appeared! Turned out that my Buyer was illegal and offered $900 less than my asking Price; but still, I felt I could work with that, because remember, the new Jeep is better!

So I met Julio and his wife, Catalina at the Jeep and we go for a test drive. First of all, the test drive confirmed my Theory that William deserved better. It was humid on Saturday afternoon and just as we got into the truck it began to pour so without AC or the benefit of open windows, I was dying in the back seat of that Jeep! Additionally, I set off the alarm when I unlocked the doors using just the Key because the remote is missing (Seller was supposed to deliver that item later but never did). Any way, I was uncomfortable so Clearly, that Jeep had to go!

Back to Julio and Catalina. Even with the broken AC and missing remote key unlock/lock thingee, they liked it, Mucho and wanted to, Buy right away. So we began, in my broken Spanish and their broken English, discussing Julio's shortage of Cash... Does he need a few hours? Until Monday? What about ten days or until next pay day? Tell me how I can help, I told them. Give us two hour and no-sell until we call, they said. Fair enough. After that test drive I needed another shower and a Nap so I took the Jeep home to wait for their call...

Three hours pass with no Call so we decided to go to Dinner. But, as luck would have it, my cell phone rang Just as we pulled into Outback. It's Catalina and she wants to know if I remember her and Julio. Yes, I tell her... I remember, which pleases her. Then she says, We come up with 3-more hundred dollars. Great! So now we're only $600 apart. He's hungry and so am I, so I said, "Okay, you have a deal." Catalina replied, "Really?", which is exactly what the man sitting next to me said at just about the same time. Yes, I said to both of them... Really! Let's just get this Over with!

Because I left the house with just such a Call in mind, I asked him to forgo dinner a while longer and take me over to Kinko's so I could print off the, "As-is" Bill of Sale I prepared in Spanish (how much do we love and English and had saved onto my flash drive. After Kinko's we met Julio and Catalina back at the Jeep where I proceeded to fill out the Title in Julio's name. Then he says, "You Notary?" No... I'm not a Notary. Then he says, "We go to Notary now." Okay, we'll follow you, I said.

We followed them through the worst parts of the City and down a road I was sure went Nowhere until I started to wonder if it wouldn't just be best to hang a Left and forget the whole sorted thing. But just as I was about to ask for Agreement on my thoughts of Abandoning them out in the sticks, I remembered that I had their cash and noticed that they were finally coming to a Stop in front of a single-wide trailer out in the middle of exactly where I feared we'd end up, Nowhere. And, as surreal as this scene was, there, Nailed to a tree, was a tiny Hand-written sign that read, "Notary." I'd left my gun at home because we were just going to Dinner but I sure did wish it was under the seat to Grab and take with me. As I got out of the truck he said, "I'm coming with you and I'm taking both our phones and this screwdriver, and I'm leaving all the doors unlocked, so first sign of trouble, you run back to the truck and don't worry about me." What!? We're selling a Jeep because William deserves a better one, right? How did we end up here?

While we plotted our Escape in the driveway, Catalina and Julio were already knocking on the Door of the trailer. And, as if right out of a Nightmare the door opened but it was like remote control because I couldn't see anyone in the doorway. I expected to be able to ask the Notary to step outside because once inside that Trailer, I wasn't sure what might happen to us. But as I got closer to the door I saw what appeared to be a Wheelchair, and upon further inspection I saw what Turned out to be an elderly woman sitting there motioning what I assumed was a Welcome. But that was no welcome, what she was Saying to us was, "Get in here, the Air's on!" She didn't look like the Witch in the Hansel and Gretel storybook so I went a little Closer and then stepped inside and around the corner into the kitchen where Julio and Catalina were already waiting for us.

Turns out, Mrs. Thomas is a legitimate, sworn North Carolina Notary and has been doing this from her Trailer home for 26 of her 78-years on this planet! Guarded by Falkor, her trusty mutt-mix companion - So named, she explained for the Fantasy-film, Neverending Story, which is what this Ordeal was beginning to feel like to me. Finally, Mrs. Thomas put on her Notary cap and began filling out the necessary paperwork to Notarize our Title transfer. But wait just a minute! Julio is illegal, and not only is he Illegal, Mrs. Thomas noted that his North Carolina driver's License expired last April! She told us that six years ago, when Julio's license was Issued, anyone could get a NC driver's License without documentation of any kind; however, recently, in order to have those Licenses renewed, proof of residency and a Valid SSN are required, which Julio unfortunately didn't have.

Julio's Catalina doesn't have a driver's license either (Yes, they were both driving!) and, we learned neither of them has vehicle Insurance! What to do? Mrs. Thomas said she Cannot notarize without proof of Valid Identification, as stated on the Poster she pointed out taped to the beam over her head. But wait! Mrs. Thomas said she could, "Clear" Catalina to sign on the title using her North Carolina ID card, but it would require her to fill out Another form and for all of us to sign Twice, which would raise her fee from Ten dollars to twenty. At this point I would have Given her all the cash Catalina and Julio just paid me just to Get out of there, but before I could say anything, Catalina produced a twenty to give Mrs. Thomas from the wallet she said was Empty as she paid me, all the money they had for the Jeep. But before Mrs. Thomas could notarize our signatures she had to take a phone Call and then she had to answer the door to some good neighbor Dropping by some of their Garden tomatoes. Honestly, I thought I was going to pass out...

Finally, with our Title properly notarized we left Mrs. Thomas and Falkor to get back to their Direct TV, which flashed on and off on the small Television sitting on top of a stack of magazines in what I guess passed as the Living room.

At dinner we both ordered alcohol for the First time in twenty-five years of dining together, and it was Good.

Still don't think I'm a little Crazy? Well, wait for it, because Here it comes!

William was treating us like Crap all weekend. More so lately than he usually does... And, although I sold his Jeep and know we are under No obligation whatsoever to replace it with another one, I felt I could not go back on my promise to Buy the better-Jeep from the lady that I work with.

So I'm in the kitchen plating Dinner last night when the phone rings and it's the Lady from work. Secretly, I was hoping she was calling to say that like me, she found a Buyer for her Jeep this weekend... But no. Instead, she's calling to say she has News about the Jeep. See, I was supposed to meet her last Thursday at work to buy the Jeep but she called to say her Husband ended up needing the Jeep for work so I'd have to wait until Friday. Then on Friday she called to say she couldn't make it to the inspection I lined up with my Fabulous mechanic for noon; but, maybe if I wanted to come to Greensboro on Saturday, she said... When that didn't work she said it would have to wait until Monday. I was actually glad. Because if you're Keeping track, adding the better-Jeep would make Five vehicles parked at our house, which I think technically makes me a Dealership in at least 98 of North Carolina's 100 counties. So first dibs on her Jeep with time to unload the one I had was actually a Good thing. But no that wasn't it; she was Calling with Other news.

So I tuned in... And, the other News is that on his way home from work on Thursday, the transmission blew out on her Husband. I couldn't believe it... not because I didn't believe her, but because what happened sounded more like my kind of luck! Until that exact moment, I had no idea that other people actually suffered that kind of Luck too. But there it was. Their Jeep (not mine, yet!) was at the AAMCO in Greensboro and Mrs. Seller said if I still wanted to buy it, they would deduct $1,600.00, the cost of a New transmission. Wow! Finally, a break in my favor! No, no, no... Not the break that allowed me to back out of the Deal, like she said I could... No, the break that I have an opportunity to buy a 4X4, Way better-Jeep for William-who-doesn't-actually-deserve-it, WITH the added benefit of a new Transmission and a 1-year warranty on that new transmission! And, this deal gets better... Of course, I called AAMCO to get the scoop today and the manager said (he told the Sellers) the repairs could actually run as high as $1,800 (if it needs something called a Torque Converter), which when I told the the Seller I knew, she also agreed to deduct from her Price, whether or not the Jeep needs it. And, Mr. AAMCO said that for only $290, I could purchase a 3-year extended warranty for added protection on the new Transmission. Oh, and AAMCO said they did a mechanical and electrical systems inspection while diagnosing the Transmission problem and everything else on the Jeep checked out fine. Hell yes, I'll buy that Jeep!

After we reached agreements on price and delivery, I sensed a bit of desperation in her voice when Mrs. Seller said they were thankful I was taking the Jeep because they feared they might have to, donate it, which probably means I could have picked it up for less or no cash at all, and just agree to pay for the Transmission. But we work in the same building and That's not who I am... So I'm meeting Mr. and Mrs. Seller this evening in High Point to trade their Title for some of my Julio-Cash. Tomorrow morning I will authorize the Transmission repair and in a few Days, William will have the better-Jeep.

So now you know everything about my weekend Jeep adventure. Clearly, my Jeep adventures have declined since that night in 1982, when Steve Kidd took us for a ride in his Wrangler near the Junction City stockade and we got stuck after he plunged it through a huge puddle and water got under the distributor cap. It was also the first time I had hard liquor - We were all freezing so Steve broke out the Southern Comfort to stay warm until we could get help. That was an adventure! Now I'm old so my Jeep adventures are what they are... Ha! Any way, that's it. And, I'll leave it up to You to decide which part of the adventure Certifies me Certifiable. Just for the record, I think out of everything, it has to be Buying my William a better-Jeep when he's done nothing yet to Earn it. In my defense though... I did it for Hanna. Because I could not see that Pretty girl, (who convinced William that he does need a Job) suffer in a Jeep without air conditioning. If I needed it so would she and now She will have it.

I'm off to Buy a better-Jeep! Wish me luck...

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