alex barrie
April 19, 2014
is now workin for the man
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- My Short Lived Experience as a Motorist -

March 15, 2005

Last summer, when Jeff graduated, he moved to Utah and sold me his car. I got a pretty sweet deal on it because he didn't have to clean it and he probably still felt bad about the time he spilled an entire large soda cup full of mustard and another full of mayonaise under the seat of my car at the time. When I first got the car, the stereo was busted but still had like a week left on the warranty. Jeff and I went to Best Buy to get it fixed.This also happened to be the same day the cable was getting installed and Joe said that he may need me to wait for the cable guy since he had class or something. I called joe about 30 minutes before the appointment to confirm that I needed to be home and he said that I did. So I had to leave Jeff in Roanoke to wait for the car (he had his new car also since he was getting the XM stuff put in it, but it meant he had to sit in Best Buy by himself for three or four hours) and drove home to meet the cable guy. When I walk in the door I see Joe and some other guy, who I beleive may have been Andrew, sitting on the couch. I ask them why they are there and not at wherever they said they had to be that warrented me having to leave Jeff in Roanoke. Joe's response was something along the lines of 'oh I decided not to go to class and to wait for the cable guy instead.' When asked why he didn't call me back to tell me he said: 'I guess I didn't think of it.' I don't remember why Andrew was there, but I seem to recall he had a good reason - although I am confidant that him having a cell phone would have mitigated the problem.

After several confusing calls to Best Buy, I determined that my radio was broken, but they would give me a new one and I went to go get it. I did not have the original purchase receipt anymore, (it was lost forever in the big move) but they said on the phone that all I needed was the work order receipt which I had. Of course, they would not give me the radio since I did not have the purchase receipt. I explained to them that they had the reciept when I brought the radio in and even made several photocopies of it, but apparently they were all mailed somewhere or stuck in some place where this guy was not aloud to go. I was told that I could call some number and get a receipt sent to the store from the Central Reciept Storage and Processing Department. When I called that place, however, they needed the original credit card number it was purchased with. I was, this whole time, saying that I was Jeff Poole since my claim on the stereo was tenuous enough without a receipt, let alone some guy who is not the owner trying to get it back without a receipt. So I said that I would have to think about it or something and called Jeff. He didn't have the old credit card number, but did give me a variety of phone numbers which might be linked to the purchase as well (they had said that a phone number may work.) None of the phone numbers worked though. After several calls between me, jeff, reciept distro, the manager of the store, and some customer service goon, it was determined that the 3 year warranty period had expired while they were fixing the radio, which meant that they deleted all records of the sale and the reciept that went with it so there was no way to retreive it. At this point we were at an impasse. They acknowledged that I must have had a reciept at some point since they serviced the radio but had no form to fill out for this scenario that would result in me getting it, or the previously promised new one, back. I would have been OK with just getting the old one back because all that was broken was MP3 play, it still played normal CDs OK, and I had at been in Best Buy for so long at this point it was approaching the point where paying for a new radio seemed less irritating than spending five more minutes in that store. After some more discussion between the higher ups of Best Buy, they decided to just give me some new stereo all under the table like. This actually turned out to be the best outcome - since there just gave me the radio with no forms or anything, the question of whether or not I was actually Jeff Poole never came up. I imagine they would have at least made me sign some new receipt or fill out a new address or something had the deal been more legitimate. Needless to say, I was not about to get a new warranty, or have them install it, I wanted out of there as quickly as possible. I installed the radio myself and was all proud of myself.

Soon after I got the car it would not start. The engine made no noise at all and I was not able to jump it so I figured there was some sort of starter problem or something. (When I say "I" figured that what I really mean is some other guy who I asked figured that since I don't know anything at all about cars.) So I got it towed to South Main Auto and they said that the battery had been completely drained, probably from some short and they would fix it. I said to go ahead and to change the oil and fluids and stuff while they were at it. They determined that the rear defroster remained on at all times regardless of the engines on or offness. When I heard this I suddenly remembered several occasions complaining about how I had to hit the defroster button a bunch of times to get it to turn on or off and how the switch was messed up and it irritated me. I asked if they had also done the oil change and he looked back and forth between some pieces of paper for a while and then went into some back room and came out a couple minutes later and said "yeeeeaaah, we did that.... you therefore owe us 25$ more dollars." My suspicion is that nobody knew if it had been done or not so they better charge me to make sure. My only clue as to whether or not it was done was that my windshield sticker had not been replaced with a new one telling me when to change my oil. Crooked South Main Auto!

About two days after I got my car back it died again in a similar fashion. This time I was able to jump it and get it back to SMA so I could tell them that they suck and to fix my car. I had assumed that they just didn't fix it right, but they determined this time that the light in the drivers side door was stuck on and drained the battery. This made me remember how whenever I went around a right turn the door would think it was open and trigger the light, which also infuriated me. They tried to charge me like 75$ because they had to do the short finding test again so I said "I don't want to pay for that" with no further explanation and the guy said "OK, I'll just take it off then, you really owe 5$." It blew my mind. I didn't want to leave the car there anymore so I just took a new door relay (which I also installed myself!) and left.

The next major event that happened to my car was that allen ran into it while backing out of the driveway. The problem is that he thinks in boolean when he drives - it is either gas to the floor or brake to the floor, there is no in between. So in pulling out of the driveway at 100 mph, he scraped the back of my car. It looked like all that had happened was that some of his cheapo Saturn plastic had rubbed off onto my car and there were a couple scratches so I just told him to rub all of his Saturn residue off and didn't really care. This did make me want to start parking out front, however. I went to the realtor to get a town permit and they said I had to go to the police station. The police acted like I was an idiot and told me to go to the Blacksburg Municipal Building. Why would the police hand out parking permits I guess? So I went to the municipal building to get my parking permit. They asked for a copy of my lease, which I did not have but I convinced her that my car being registered to 610 progress was good enough proof that I lived and would be parking there. I asked for a couple of guest permits while I was there and was directed - back to the police department. I went back to ask for a guest permit just to see what the woman would say and she responds with 'oh sure, we have those, would you like some?' I wanted to punch her in her fat face. They were only good for a few days, though, so I did not get any.

After a couple months of parking out front I noticed my rear bumper was slightly disconnected and not really attached to the car anymore. I was not sure whether to blame punk kids being drunk and hitting me, or if it was some sort of after effect from Allen. Just to be safe I started paying more attention to parking my car out back on the weekends to avoid drunk kids. I would park it as far over as possible to give allen a wide berth. Andrew wanted me to park on the other side so that the less torn up side of the driveway was available, but I said I didn't want Allen to have to S curve around my car and would rather that he did. I told him I would park on the other side if he switched sides with Allen but I guess he didn't care that much.

At some point in the near future Wren wanted me to drive her to Walmart. It was raining, but was above freezing so I took her. The problem was that we went to Walmart, Home Depot, the Suncom store, and Quiznos. At this point it was below freezing and had become rediculously slippery out. I was driving home with extreme focus and was doing really well when out of nowhere my car suddenly rotates 90 degrees to the right and slides towards the conveniently placed wall five feet off the side of Rt. 460. Had I been 20 feet in front of or behind where I was, I would have simply rolled into some grass to safety but I happened to slide at the exact point where there was a wall there because of an overpass. This led me to think: why would I suddenly rotate 90 degrees on a perfectly straight section of road when I had been perfectly fine going around all the corners and hills and whatever. After a lot of analysis, being an engineer I determined that since the overpass was at about 45 degrees relative to the road one wheel hit the ice before the other so I had only one wheel of traction thus rotating me 90 degrees.

As I was sliding towards the wall, I remembered all of my skid training from watching TV, that I should turn into the skid. The problem was that there was only about one car length between my car and the wall so I did not have much room for any sort of maneuver. I manadged to turn the car enough so that I hit the wall at about 30 degrees instead of head on. All that really happened was the bumper got ripped off. But the airbags came out... and broke the windshield. Wren and I were both fine, but she was holding her soda at the time and it had gotten all over the car and apparently her coat. Some guy pulled over and told me my radiator was also cracked and that I should get the plate off my bumper assuming I was going to leave the bumber on the side of the road as a marker to other travellers to not the mistakes of the past. This seemed like a good idea since so I took the liscense plate and was on my way. It was somehow satisfying that my bumper remained along the side of 460 for almost three weeks before it was finally removed. Every time I passed it I would look at it and shake my fist at that crooked overpass for being so non-perpendicular.

The car seemed fine on the way home, as in it drove OK and didn't even make any rattling noises, unlike Allen's car right before the piston shot out the side of the engine since it had absolutely no oil in it. I left it out front for a few days since I did not want to deal with it. When I did decide to take it somewhere I found that it no longer started. I assumed it was more battery shennanigans and was tempted to try to take it back to South Main Auto and tell them to fix it again for free. I could not get the hood open to jump start it, though, and eventually started calling body shops. The first one I called had had their phone disconnected by the phone company. The second one did not actually do body work dispite their add in the phone book. The third company was willing to take my car, but their truck was broken so they could not tow it to their place. It was right down the street so I was thinking maaaaaybe if I just put it in neutral.... The fourth place never picked up the phone in several hours of calling, but the fifth and final place was willing to take my car and the guy said he would come out and try to get the hood open and jump it. I can only assume he did so because I looked out the window after a while and it was gone. And so began my adventures with Barnett's Body Shop.

Barnett had not called me after a few days so I called them and he said that he needed some parts and would look for them used if I didn't mind used or aftermarket parts. I told him I didn't care what it looked like, I just wanted it to run and be as cheap as possible. He said he would do what he could and would fix it for as little as he could. After about two weeks I had not heard anything so I called him back and he admitted that he had lost my phone number long ago which was why he had never called me. I asked if he wanted me to give it it to him again and he said no - for some reason. As for the car, the frame was apparently dented in such a way that he could not put in a new radiator, and therefore the car was not fixable unless the frame was fixed which would cost a couple thousand dollars. The windshield was a few hundred and the airbags cost 1200$ each, which made me all the more angry that they deployed in the first place. The car was clearly not worth fixing at that point so he said he would call some places to see if I could sell it.

I decided to go over there a couple days later and get all my stuff out of it that I wanted. This place was sort of far away (which is why I called it last) so I had to use mapquest to get there. The place was located on Cedar Run Rd. The directions were to take Main st to Ellet Rd for 2.5 miles to Jannele rd for 0.1 miles and that was it. I was a little suspicious that the road that the shop was on was never mentioned in the drections, but I figured mapquest knew what it was doing. I turned onto Ellet Rd and after about half a mile it turns into Cedar Run Rd, the road the shop is supposed to be on. I trusted mapquest, though, and kept going. I found the left onto Janelle Rd after the desired 2.5 miles and then went for 0.1 miles and looked around. I saw a railroad track and a couple houses. According to the map, the shop should have been right around where the railrad track was, but all that was there was woods. After a few minutes of driving around, we (Allen and I) decided to go check out that stretch of road a couple miles back that was labeled Cedar Run and sure enough, the shop is right there about a quarter mile off Main St. So mapquest's directions were essentially to drive right by the place and go for a couple miles and then stop at some railroad tracks and then it was done.

When I got there nobody was around so I started taking off the roof rack, radio, and anything else of value I could think of. I had this grand notion of driving the car home and making some sort of go cart or robot or something out of the parts. At the very least, I could the steering wheel and dashboard buttons to control the lights in my room. But I knew that inevitably, I would just have a pile of junk that I would have to clean up and no robot so I left the car where it was. Eventually a guy who identified himself as Ernie Barnett pulled up in his 1980's POS car and said that he still had a couple more places to call to try to sell it and I should call back in a few days, but I should bring the title by since nobody would buy it without the title.

I went back the next week with the title to find Ernie again gone, but now my car was also gone. As I was looking around for my car Ernie showed up and said that he could not find anyone to buy my car. As I was about to ask where it was, he preempted me by telling me that he had given it to someone and they had already crushed it into a cube. "He didn't need the title afterall. Hope you got everything out of it! Yuk, Yuk!" As with so many other occasions, my only response was "Oh." I can only assume that he sold the car for some fat loot and bought himself a gold dollar sign necklace with the proceeds. In the end, I wasn't too upset since I didn't have to deal with it this way and I likely would not have gotten much money anyway, even though the engine was fine.

So after a brief stay at my house all that is left of my car is the liscense plates, roof rack, radio, and evidently not needed title... plus the occasional "I am so cold, I would wear my warmer coat if there wasn't DR. PEPPER ALL OVER IT!"*

* Note: It has been requested that I mention that the jacket in question was expensive and made of soft leather.