Friday, January 03, 2014

Mi Caro es Mi Caro

Dave pulled up his car and idled by the curb. Several other cars with workers at the paper had already begun standing waiting for the rush hour parking restrictions to expire at 6:30 PM. Technically the night shift had to be at work at 6:30 in the evening and a ticket for parking early would get the owner a $100 fine - a good deal of money for an average digital paginator. But the physical realm of the possible was that around 6:27 PM there were enough cars illegally parked as far as the eye could see so that by the time the enforcer made it to one of the cars of people working at the paper it would be well past 6:30 PM. So workers would park at 6:27 PM or so and head inside the paper. In fact the only time anyone got a ticket it was mostly Tumbleweed. These were not his tickets but rather, discarded citations found in the street by Dave, Randy or one of the other notoriously infamous practical jokers working in advertising. The first four or five times it happened it shocked Tumbleweed until he read the ticket and realized it was for someone else. Eventually the joke no longer worked until more devious methods were employed. Randy found a ticket that had the written-in information washed and sun bleached out. Randy filled in Tumbleweed's car and tag information then gave him a rush hour violation even though Tumbleweed was certain he had parked legally as it was a Saturday with no rush hour offenses even possible.

Dave appearing to come to Tumbleweed's aid grabbed the ticket and shouted, "You don't have to pay for this. I'd just tear it up since there no rush hour on Saturday's." Dave acts as if he'll rip the ticket causing Tumbleweed to grab for it.  Both pull and the ticket rips. Tumbleweed screamed at Dave fearing he'd defaced government property which caused everyone in on the joke to lose control and begin laughing. Even still Tumbleweed checked with security about the ticket. No one in advertising could ever say if he actually paid the ticket.

Tumbleweed got his revenge, at least on me. He waited months after being cited for a fake infraction then came to work early and found my car park in the neighborhood where parked in the afternoon. As fate would have it was late that day overstaying the amount of time legally permitted and was already in fear of getting a ticket anyway. As approached my car I saw the little pink ticket and screamed, "God dammit!" I snatched the ticket off the windshield and threw it to the floor of my Celica. I drove to my evening parking spot on L Street and parked as usual waiting for rush hour to end. Finally I grabbed the ticket off the floor to see how much he owed and read the words "Got You" written across the ticket that Dave had written to him a month earlier. I laughed realizing Tumbleweed had gotten me good on alright. I was also happy I hadn't actually gotten a ticket.

As 6:30 pm nears a car pulls up from behind then another. This pries Dave back into the present. He looks at the dash clock, sees it's now 6:28 PM so he shuts off the car and gets out. He notices Tumbleweed getting out of a car but not the Neon. Dave walks back towards Tumbleweed. "Hey Tumbleweed, where's the Neon? Why are you parking here and not in your space" The two walk towards the building and Tumbleweed starts to explain. "I'm saving money by giving up my space and slumming here parking with you guys now. The head gasket blew in my Neon so I traded it in. I was going to ah..." They walk into the building and stand by the elevator when Dave interrupts. "Head gasket! You blew the head gasket? How'd you do that?" The elevator doors open and the two walk in as the doors close behind them. "Friday night they were running a sobriety checkpoint and the line was so long that waiting in traffic my car overheated." Dave interrupts Tumbleweed again. "Wait. Why didn't you just shut off your engine and let it cool down?" Tumbleweed after hesitating a moment when the elevator door opens and Don one of the daytime paginators enters, begins to answer. "I didn't want to draw any attention to myself during a sobriety checkpoint. You know what I mean..." Then Don asks, "You drinking again Tumbleweed? That's going to ruin your liver." He starts to respond to Don  who is laughing loudly now but before he can get more than ah out of his mouth Dave asks another question. "Hey Tumbleweed, didn't you have like another thirteen payments on that Neon and she would have been all yours?" "Nine." Tumbleweed corrects Dave. "Nine more payments." Dave having formerly sold cars says to Tumbleweed. "You must have been upside down big-time!" Tumbleweed replies defending his purchase, "Well the dealership gave me two thousand for the Neon. How about that? Pretty good." However his pride is short lived as Dave continues explaining the car business. "The dealer just added two grand to the selling price. They hit you with full list for everything and you got to pay more tax for the higher price too. Don't even deny you got undercoating. You get to pay high interest rates too for the car loan. Right? What's your monthly payment, dude?" The elevator doors open to their floor and the trio exit the elevator and they walk down the hallway. Tumbleweed's owner pride has crumbled into buyer's remorse. "Well?" Now Don demands to know having his curiosity aroused. "Ah..." Tumbleweed stammers and clears his throat before speaking softly. "Five twenty-seven." To which both Don and Dave simultaneously scream, "What?" Tumbleweed  starts to form the words again but before he can get them out Dave shouts, "Five hundred and twenty-seven DOLLARS? A month? Oh my God dude! You're getting reamed! How long you have to pay that note back? Did you have to put any money down?" Tumbleweed hesitated as he threw his things down to his desk. "Five." He mumble. Dave eyes brightened up. He replied, "Well that's more like it. You say you only had to put down five bucks?" Tumbleweed began shaking his head no but not saying a thing? "Five hundred down's still not too bad man." But Tumbleweed keeps shaking his head before correcting Dave. "Five years. The loan's for five years. I had to put two thousand down." This caused Don to laugh then remark, "Jesus Mary and Joseph, Tumbleweed. Did they sell you an extended warranty too?" Before Tumbleweed can answer Dave jumps right in for him. "Yeah! Sixty days or sixty feet...whichever comes first." Everyone but Tumbleweed laughs hysterically. Instead he was wondering again how he was going to pay his mom back for the down payment money especially after having to pay over five hundred bucks every month for the next five years. One thing certain though. He would not tell them he owed his mom two thousand dollars or they'd make fun of him during the entire night. He'd never hear the end of that.

The car payment, like the adjustable rate mortgage and condo fee increases all cut into Tumbleweed's once ample salary. The future would bring only more woes for Tumbleweed who kept looking for love in all the wrong places and this was costing him a fortune. But for me, I needed to figure out how to get a new whistle modification for his latest car.

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