No, you didn’t miss anything. This is a two-part story (see? tale of TWO cars?), but I’m not ready to tell you part 1, just yet. Part 1 cannot be told without flames shooting out of my eyeballs and veins bulging in my neck. Part 1 is the story of why—nearly eight weeks after moving—I still do not have a car of my own. Part 1 should come first, I’ll grant you that, but, um, too bad.
This is part 2. This is about Otto’s car.
So I moved down here, carless, and Otto and I were drunk on love and possibly cheap beer, and we said that me not having a car would be NO PROBLEM for a little while, because Otto has a car! And Otto would not be going back to work until August (oh, hey, look—it’s August) and also, Otto had an extra car so we’d be perfectly fine. Hahahahahaha.
Otto’s real car is new(ish) and shiny and very reliable. The “extra car” is a 600-year-old Ford pick up truck that is standard issue here in the south for haulin’ yer junk to the landfill and picking up some-a dat pine straw at Lowe’s. The truck is old and ugly but it runs fine… or, rather, it did until I moved down here and we actually needed it.
As soon as I arrived, the truck died. (I’m trying not to take it personally.) Otto spent some time taking it apart and then he let some local grease monkeys do something to it and then he took it apart AGAIN and eventually it started running again. But the problem is that the truck, she is now finicky and delicate. She runs great, but only on alternate Tuesdays when Mercury is in retrograde. The rest of the time, she will run for short distances and then overheat. Which is really spectacular and high on my list of requirements when looking for a reliable vehicle.
Gentleman that he is, on the occasions when both Otto and I have had need of a vehicle, Otto has graciously taken the truck and said a prayer and so far we’ve been okay.
Yesterday we headed out to a small local restaurant for breakfast, and we took both the car and the truck, as Otto was going to head to his office afterwards and I was going to return home here to work. We were having a lovely time, as all the components for a perfect morning meal were present: No children, a cup of coffee as large as my head, fluffy buttermilk biscuits that melt in your mouth, bacon, and cheese grits so creamy I had to resist throwing my body at the plate so that I could roll around in them.
Otto and I were having adult conversation (well, okay; we were talking about how good the biscuits were) when the waitress came by our table.
“Hi,” she started, “do you happen to drive an orange snowmobile
“Yes…?” we said, and I remembered how, when we’d arrived in the tiny parking lot, there’d been a gigantic delivery truck blocking most of the parking spaces. I’d had to park further off to the side than I’d planned, but I’d checked to make sure I was in a marked space. Had I parked illegally somehow?
“Okay, um, well, the owner of the restaurant just, um, hit it?” The waitress looked like she wanted to crawl underneath the table. Otto stared at her in disbelief. I turned and clawed at the blinds on the window we were sitting next to, and peered outside. From our vantage point, I couldn’t see any damage. “She, um, had to leave? But she hit it on her way out and she said to leave your information, she has insurance.”
Otto and I looked across the table at one another and experienced that sort of wordless communication that only couples deeply in love can manage, and in this case the message dually communicated was “OH. HELL. NO.”
“Go take a look,” I murmured to him, and he stood up and put his napkin on the table, and took a deep breath.
“Call her,” he said to the waitress. She looked confused. “CALL HER,” he repeated. “She needs to come back. Now.” He left to check out the car.
The waitress scurried away, returning after a moment to DROP OUR CHECK on the table. Which was extremely classy, don’t you think?
I caught up with Otto outside; in the absence of mastery of technical car terms, let me just say that part of the car was ALL SMASHED IN. Otto was, to his credit, remarkably calm. Or maybe he was in shock. We went back inside.
He had another discussion with the waitress about calling the owner, this time pointing out that “leave your information” is all good and well, but at this point what we have here is a hit-and-run, and the owner needs to return. They speak on the phone, she promises to be back in ten minutes.
We pay the bill. We go outside to wait.
Otto explains to me about how this kind of snowmobile is put together and how this is just about the most expensive body damage that can be done to it because this piece is part of the unibody and has to be cut off and welded back on and something something something. I nod a lot and pet his arm.
The owner returns in her hulking behemoth of an SUV (surprise!) and she is full of apologies. She is “so so so so” sorry, but the delivery truck was blocking her sight line and her sorority’s caterer hadn’t shown up so she had to run them over some food, and OH MY GOD SHE WOULD NOT SHUT UP with the excuses. I mean, lady, start with “so so so so” sorry and then STOP.
She and Otto start exchanging insurance information, she mentions that oh, she thinks she’s gonna get in trouble because her tags are expired. Well, no matter, her insurance is fine. When she heads back over to her car for something, Otto turns to me in disbelief.
“If her tags are expired, her insurance is automatically void.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, because I don’t know how it works in Georgia, and also, hello, I have never let my registration lapse.
“Yeah, I’m sure.” He shook his head, and she came back over and they resumed the copying of policy numbers and such.
“It’s just that, well, you know, the restaurant business, it’s hard to get started, and I only made about $6000 last year, and I’ve been having trouble paying my bills—” she yammered on, and I tried to muster some sympathy, but I noticed that on $6000 she’d managed a really large vehicle (complete with large blind spots, apparently) and also some pretty expensive shoes, and so my sympathy was short-lived.
“Well, I need to take this down to the police station,” Otto told her, and then? She started to cry.
It turns out that the restaurant owner hasn’t just let her registration lapse, she’s been driving on a suspended license! AWESOME!
“They’re going to arrest me, oh my God, I’m going to have to go to jail, and I just, it’s, I had no CHOICE, they didn’t have any FOOD at the sorority and I HAD to—” Yes, I have often felt that breaking the law was completely justified when it comes to busty college girls, myself.
Otto and I exchanged another look. I put my hands into my pockets, lest I accidentally slip and SLAP THIS WOMAN SILLY.
Then she commenced begging us not to report it and swearing that she’d take care of the repairs, honest. Except, OOPS, she’d already cried to us about how she can’t pay her bills, so that didn’t feel like a really safe bet, you know? Also, given that we are down to ONE RELIABLE CAR it just didn’t seem like a great time to start hedging bets on it. Otto apologized but stood firm that he wanted it reported, and she sniffled and said she understood.
Then Otto took the snowmobile and I took the truck and we parted ways.
Luckily for the restaurant owner, it turns out that in Georgia you have to call the police to the scene in order to file a police report. So it’s unlikely that she’ll be arrested. Luckily for Otto, her insurance is the same as ours AND they don’t seem to know or care about the expired tags problem, because they’re taking care of it. It’s a Hassle with a capital H but at least we’re not being stuck with the expense of a huge repair.
Please note for the record that she DID NOT COMP US OUR MEAL which was—to me—the icing on the crap cake. Not that I care about the $15 or whatever we spent, but it would’ve been a nice gesture, you know? (At one point she asked me if they had charged us and we said yes, and she said “Oh, they shouldn’t have done that” and then went back to crying over her sorority. Alrighty then.)
Please also note that the truck HAS NO AIR CONDITIONING. I had to take said truck to pick the kids up from school and while it is uncomfortably hot in there while you’re tooling down the road, at least you can get a breeze going. While waiting in the school pick-up line for 25 minutes (and not moving) it transforms into SATAN’S OVEN and by the time the kids got in, I was actually lightheaded. So that was special.
So in case you were wondering how my date went yesterday, there ya go.