I’d like to start off this post by saying that the title is a lie. By anyone’s estimation my life thus far has been a relative cakewalk. Not that there haven’t been any bumps along the way, but certainly nothing to whine about. But I’m going to do it anyway.
What I’m sure are normal, problem free business transactions for most people always seem to cause me trouble. I’ll buy an MP3 player and it won’t play. I’ll purchase a cable or wire of some sort only to find when I get some that it has the wrong connector. I’ll buy a shirt without trying it on first only to find that holding it up to my torso on the hanger isn’t an accurate representation of how it will fit. I know these sound pretty silly and nothing to get worked up over, but when it happens over and over again its like Chinese water torture. Sometimes they’re a little bit more involved than a quick trip back to Wal-Mart. Such as with my new (to me) truck.
This story actually begins way back in June with a roadside stop by one of the state of California’s fine CHP officers. I was on my way home from work in my then current vehicle, blue Toyota Tercel, when the aforementioned guardian of truth, justice, and the American way pulled me over for expired registration tags. OK, I was guilty. He did his duty and I was on my way. A registration citation is no big deal. You go down to the DMV, not the excruciating experience it used to be, get everything current, then go down to the police station to have them confirm you’ve taken care of the problem. You pay a $10 fine and go along your merry way. Somewhere between taking care of the DMV stuff and getting the car down to the precinct, the old Tercel gave up the ghost. Not being drivable, I had been unable to finish the last stage in the process. Thus the Tercel remains in my driveway collecting dust and pine needles. What about the ticket? Extensions my friends. I will not have to answer for my infraction until February 9th, 2007, nearly nine months after the ticket was issued.
What does all this have to do with the truck? Obviously I needed a new means of locomotion. I found a potential conveyance on Craigslist that looked promising, a 1995 Toyota pickup, dark metallic green, with a camper shell. I asked around to my car-guy friends and decided to make the move. The truck was owned by a guy down in San Rafael and I made arrangements to go down and have a look. My cousin and I drove down and everything looked good. It was in excellent condition, the test drive went well, he opened the hood so I could pretend I knew what I was looking at, everything was going fine. I’ll take it. We went inside so he could draw up a bill of sale and we could sign all the papers. The seller was an interesting fella. I won’t go into the details, but judging by what we saw in his office he was clearly very at home in Marin County. Perhaps that’s a post for another day.
After we signed all the papers, there was just the matter of payment. This is where things began to go awry. Not being a wealthy individual, I don’t usually have the pleasure of handling copious amounts of cash. And this evening was no exception. I had intended to pay the man with a check from an equity account. I can tell by the look on his face when I pulled out the checkbook that that wasn’t what he had in mind. He was expecting a very pregnant envelope. We decided that he would take the check, but hold the truck until the check cleared. As he looked at the check and saw that the bank was located in Cleveland, Ohio he decided he didn’t want to do that. I understood his concern, not knowing us from anybody. We talked for a bit trying to come up with a workable scenario for everybody. We eventually decided that I would round up cash the next day and then return to complete the purchase. How I was going to do this, I had no idea. The account where I had the money, or credit, was in Cleveland. I decided that I would have to write myself a check from that account and deposit it into my regular bank account and then withdraw the cash. But it would take a couple days for the check to clear. I called the seller, and he reluctantly agreed to hold the truck, even though he had received several calls about it.
The check cleared in a couple days and I headed down to the bank and withdrew more cash than I’d ever seen in person. I immediately took it home where Jen and I threw it up into the air and rolled around in it. That’s not a joke. That night Jen and I drove down to San Rafael and picked up my new car. But the story goes on. Later that week I went to the DMV to have the appropriate papers processed, a seemingly simple formality. Unfortunately the previous owner had registered the truck to a holding company he owned but had signed the title release with only his name. The lovely DMV lady told me that I needed to come back with something showing that he did in fact work for the business. **sigh** I called the seller and let him know the situation and he was more than happy to fax me some documents that should do the trick. I made a second trip to the DMV and after taking care of what I thought was everything, she informed me that I also needed a smog. At least she gave me an envelope to mail everything back in so I didn’t have to make a THIRD trip to. Like I said, the DMV is not the torture chamber it once was, but it’s still not a place I want to spend too much time. The smog went fine and I mailed everything back, finally completing my long quest to own a new truck…though I still haven’t received my registration. But for all intensive purposes the truck is mine.
Which brings us to this morning, Wednesday January, 17th. I pulled into the parking lot of my place of employment at about 8:30. I was running later than usual and most of the parking spots close to the door were taken. I spotted one that had been obstructed by a large pick-up, but was almost all the way past it so decided to go down toward the end of the line. I turned to park in between the white Ford Ranger and the navy blue Park Avenue. As I cranked the wheel, I suddenly was unable to control where I was going. What is going on!? I hit the brakes but it was too late. ¡CRASH! Right into the rear of the Park Avenue. I backed up, straitened out, and got out to inspect the damage. First my truck; the left hand corner light was cracked and part of it had broken off, but very minor. The Park Avenue had modest dent and was now a Park Ave…the rest of the emblem was inside my corner light. The paint hadn’t cracked, but a piece of molding had fallen off. As I made my way to the door, I discovered what had caused my wayward skid, black ice. Hopefully this is the last chapter to a tale which has already gone on far too long. This post I mean.