Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I bought a Prius

Last weekend I finally did it. I found the Prius I was looking for and I pulled the trigger and bought it. I had been searching craigslist for months in cities from Portland to Seattle to Missoula to San Antonio and everywhere in between. After a few dead ends including a fantastic plan that had my dad and step-mom buying the car for me in Missoula and the bizarre correspondence with self declared "Bomb Wife and Loving Mother" Whitley Evans, I was finally able to find a 2006 Prius with only 80,000 miles on it in great shape (it has a few scratches and dings, but nothing I’m concerned about) for the price I wanted! It’s great. The lady I bought it from is a physician who works in The Dalles (why The Dalles is special enough to get a “The” in front it as though it’s as important as “the flu” or “the clap” or “the herpes” or "The Oprah" I don’t know, but it could be because it is home to the world famous Spooky’s Pizza). She was selling the car so that she could buy a motorcycle. She was going to be hitting the gym this year to build up enough strength to manhandle a Harley around. Whatever, it’s a goal.
She wanted to sell the car TODAY when I met her Saturday and she wanted the money in cash. Yeah, no red flags here…but I happen to be one of those idiots who thinks “I’m a pretty good judge of character” and I trusted her story so we drove to the credit union. At the credit union I made her show me her ID to match up the name on the title with some photographic evidence that she is who she said she is. She again insisted on cash instead of a cashier’s check because she thought it would be fun if this was as close to a drug deal as possible. It was pretty fun…watching all those hard earned $100 bills get laid out on the table one by one and knowing they were going from me to someone else. She remarked “isn’t it funny that this (pointing to the stacks of paper money being slid into an envelope very drug-dealesquely) equals that (pointing to the north wall of the credit union beyond which the car was sitting)”. Yeah, hilarious.
If I’m being completely honest, Alison was a very very very nice woman and I couldn’t have been happier with her as a seller. She said she would be willing to make right anything that turned up in the inspection I would have later in the week and again I believed her because I’m such a great judge of character and I had judged her character as strong. I hate it when I realize I’m “that guy” but when it comes to “good judge of character guy” I’m pretty sure I am him. What a jerk.
So I took the Prius down to Wentworth to check it out. Why Wentworth? Because I don’t trust mechanics but I know a Wentworth. For the fantastic price of $89.95 (I have no idea if that was a good price since I called nobody else) I found out that I wasted my $89.95. The car is in perfect shape. The brakes are good. The battery is strong. It’s a great car. I didn’t really waste the money…I bought peace of mind blah blah blah. Some might say “I WENT and it was WORTH it!”
As a bonus, when the mechanic was doing the inspection I walked around the streets of beautiful inner SE Portland. I came around a corner after admiring endless gutters full of litter. Lo and behold, in front of me was a small fat man in a tiny three wheeled vehicle. Who be you, sir? Who do you think it was? If I told you his first name was Douche would you know? That’s right, fresh from writing two parking tickets it was Meter Maid Douche Thoreson making yet another appearance in my life. He had already altered my life negatively by putting in motion the events that led to me to quitting Meals on Wheels. Here he was, looking me in the eye without an ounce of recognition. So I followed him on foot, trying desperately to keep up with the ice-cream-man-motorized-tricycle the good citizens of Portland had bought for his use. About block three of what I now refer to as “the chase” I watched him write a ticket then he stopped at another car and was radioing it in to headquarters. I can’t imagine the poor depraved soul who has to answer this idiot’s questions all day: “Yes, Thoreson, that car is registered and has just as much a right to park on the city street as anyone else” day after day after day. Anyway, as he was radioing I just stood there 10 feet away and stared at him. He stopped radioing. “Hey, remember me?” No. “You wrote me a couple of tickets a few months ago.” Oh, around here? “No. I’m the Meals on Wheels guy.” Oh yeah. “I wanted you to know that for the last ticket you gave me when I called you a 'Meter Maid B**ch' I drew a picture of you calling you a douche, wrote that you were everything that’s wrong with the city of Portland and they gave me nearly all my money back.” Oh yeah? “Yeah…I guess that’s how you beat the rap. You make fun of the Meter Maid.” Huh.
That was it, that was all. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for me. I was able to let him know just how little his job is worth. Despite the fact that he makes legitimate money for the budget, the way he uses no discretion when issuing tickets has led to the courts giving back fines to people who draw pictures of him as a fat idiot in a bicycle helmet.
But I digress…the Prius is so great. I drove it for 8 days before I had to fill up the gas tank. That was over 375 miles. It cost me $27.49 to fill the tank. Much of that driving has been with the entire family of 5 in it because the back seat is big enough to fit the three kids. What I have noticed, however, is that because there is a real-time fuel-efficiency meter and I know exactly how much gas I’m using at any given moment I now drive like a grandma (no offense to the grandmas out there). I never want to use the gas because the electric is free. I’m quickly turning into an old Asian woman behind the wheel…but for $27.49 I’m okay with that.
Then Sunday I went and bought this putter.

Now I’m an old man on the golf course who can’t bring himself to bend over a regular putter. Essentially I’ve become a senior citizen in a week’s time which wouldn’t be so great if it didn’t get me discounts at Sayler's Old Country Kitchen with their weather-beaten sign that’s nothing more than a revolving picture of a 40 year old sun-bleached t-bone steak. I don’t know what color to call it, but I wouldn’t say it’s “steak color” at this point.

Anyway, I’ll see you on the roadway…probably in my rearview mirror yelling at me because I’m going 8 mph under the posted speed limit while I’m laughing about how I’m currently getting 75 miles to the gallon which is pushing up my 45 mpg average for this particular tank of gas. Fred Flinstone didn't get this kind of gas mileage!

Friday, June 1, 2012

My lucky day at the gas station

It seems like every time I think of something interesting to write about the story ends up making me look like the idiot. This post is no different. I usually consider myself to be pretty intelligent but you can see from my occasional lapses in judgment that I keep my brain pretty well in check with poor decision making.
So a couple years ago I was driving home from work and was low on gas. I decided to stop at the Johnson Creek exit off of I-205 to hit the Fred Meyer gas station. This is typically a pretty congested area at rush hour, but the low fuel light was on and the only gas stations between Freddy’s and my house are terribly overpriced.
So I exit the freeway and take a right down toward 82nd Ave. The plan is to cross 82nd in the far right lane (there are two left turn lanes and two straight lanes) then turn right into the Fred Meyer parking lot. I’m in luck because there are only about 10 cars in front of me waiting at the red light and…dumb-frocking-luck!...the light turns green as I’m approaching. As I draw near the line is doing what all lines do at green lights, namely, it’s stretching out like an inch worm as each driver slowly reacts to the car in front of it. (Sidenote: I fantasize nearly every day that just one time when the light turns green every driver in line will start moving forward all at once in a synchronized motion thereby saving everyone valuable seconds which over the course of my life would save me a day or two). I happen to be the very best driver ever to sit behind the wheel of a Galapagos Green 2003 Honda Element (insert bread box or toaster joke here)...

...so I have my speed measured out just right so that I won’t have to brake when the guy immediately in front of me starts moving. It’s then I begin to realize that my plan has been foiled. As I approach I can see that the maroon pickup in front of me isn’t moving at all. As I draw even nearer I see him turn on his turn signal. Great.
Blink…blink…blink…goes his signal. He’s not moving. I finally have to hit the brakes as I approach. He just sits there. A car tries to let him in. He’s too timid to take advantage of it. That car passes, another tries…same result. I throw up my hands and say to myself “come on!” I see his beady little eyes in his rearview mirror. He sits there…blinker blinking. There are cars lining up behind me. The light turns yellow. He flips me off. The light turns red. He moves over to the straight-only lane immediately left of where he was. Great..he’s just prevented 8 cars (most importantly ME) from making this light and he’s going straight through this light anyway…wait a second. Did he flip me off?

I pull up next to him and roll down my window. He doesn’t roll his down. “Why did you flip me off?” He holds up his fist. At this point I size him up. He’s kind of a squatty, nerdy dude in a t-shirt that’s a little too tight for his beer belly. He may or may not live in his mom’s basement and he’s probably 37 years old. Wait…did he just raise his fist at me like he wanted to hit me? I mouth as I’m doing hand motions to communicate through his window “roll down your window (making circular motion with my closed hand) so we can talk (making an opening and closing motion with my fingers and thumb like a sock puppet) about why (I shrug my shoulders) you (I point at him) flipped me off (I point at my middle finger).” He holds up his fist again. “Oh, I see (pointing at my eyes). You’re a real brainiac (I point at my temple). “ He points to the gas station. “Okay. I’m (pointing at me) going to the gas station (I make a nozzle-like motion then point to the gas station) to get gas. You (pointing at his stubby little figure) can follow me (I wave him over like we’re playing red rover) if you want.”
The light turns green and I go to the gas station. I look in my side view and see he’s followed me. Great. So I know I’m going to have to get out and go talk to this idiot to make sure he doesn’t follow me home. Time to go into defuse mode. I get out my credit card so I can start getting gas before walking over to talk to this numb nuts. I turn to the attendent at my window…oh crap. That’s no attendent. That’s Stubs McFistyfart.
Him: “You’d better think twice about who you threaten.” He’s still not intimidating me, honestly, but he’s probably off his rocker so I try to swallow the sarcasm I want to use. This is a critical point and something that didn’t come naturally.
Me: “You think I threatened you? You flipped me off. Tell me how you think I threatened you.”
Him: “You were tailgating me.”
Me: “Do you know what tailgating means? You were at a complete stop at a green light. How could I have been tailgating you? Tailgating implies that you were actually moving.”
Him: “You’re lucky I just got out of prison or I would drag your a—out of that car and beat the living sh-- out of you.”
Me: (Well this just took an unexpected twist. I wonder if he could actually do it). “I guess it must be my lucky day then.”
Him: “Yeah, I guess it is.” He starts to walk away, looks back and says “you’d better think about who you threaten.”
Me: “I DIDN’T THREATEN YOU. GET A GRIP.” Did I really say “GET A GRIP”? No, but I think I said something in my head like “holy s…that was as close one. And these business casual threads ain’t fightin’ clothes.”
I watched him drive away as far as the eye can see to make sure he couldn’t follow me home.
This is what he would look like if he was in a giant diaper and was fatter and less beardy...and had a soul:

Oh, remember how his little truck just sat there blinking at the light? Well that’s exactly the opposite of what his eyes did when he was (note the irony) threatening me. This dude was calm and cold. I was full of adrenaline and thinking about how to use the door of my toaster as a first strike weapon. I had just figured it would take about 15 seconds of me holding my own before a gaggle of gas station attendents would break up the fight and call the police when he started walking away.
To quote Headliner from Arrested Development in their smash hit ‘People Everyday’: The moral of story is you’d better look very hard at who you step into. You might get killed or shot and it’s not worth it. Africans need to be loving each other and you’re not.
Wait a second. I told you I was going to look like the idiot in this story. Nevermind about that, I’m obviously the hero.