Defending Dads

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Voyage to Manheim

An unfortunate byproduct of my divorce is that I have two cars. Only one runs, but I have notes on both. I keep the note on the functioning car current. The other? Not so much.

The bank knows that the second car doesn’t run, but, as one might expect, they still want their money. I let the note slip for 3 months and that car, disabled as it is, promptly disappeared. After I checked David Blaine’s tour schedule to make sure he wasn’t in town, I called the bank and my worst fear was confirmed; my 4,700 lb. albatross had been repossessed!

After the four year nightmare I’ve been living, I didn’t bat an eyelash. I simply made the calls to learn how I could re-repossess my useless hunk of metal. I’ve about killed myself 3 times over the years pulling my credit out of quicksand. I couldn’t bear the thought of a repo hit against my FICO score…

I value the professionalism of the bank rep who so cheerfully informed me that my car had been transported to a facility some 70 miles from my home. Once I brought the loan current, she chirped, all I had to do was go pick it up. Well, jumpin’ Jehosaphat! Who knew it was that easy?

I paid the bill and made more calls to figure the least expensive way to retrieve the car. The quotes I got from the tow companies hurt my feelings so bad, I cried my way through a whole box of Kleenex. Upon regaining my composure, I tried to make peace with the idea that the car was gone for good. I really did. But my FICO score…

My daughter was a little under the weather last Wednesday, so she stayed home with me. I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes when it hit me…U-Haul! I’d rent a truck and auto transport and drag my lemon on home with my baby girl riding shotgun. We’d be back in time to pick my son up from school, easy-peasy!

Where do I get these cockamamie ideas?

I reserved the equipment at a U-Haul in Bordentown, New Jersey, then my baby girl and I were on the road like Willie Nelson. Once in Bordentown, we stopped at a check cashing place to buy a money order to cover the yard fee. To my disbelief, they didn’t accept debit cards or have an ATM.

What? Do they get their mail via Pony Express?

So I went to a nearby ShopRite. They didn’t have an ATM, either. For my purposes, they were definitely ShopRONG.

Frustrated but undaunted, I figured I’d grab the money order after we stopped at U-Haul. There had to be another check cashing place, Walmart or something nearby that was actually wired for electricity. Off to U-Haul we went…a half-hour behind schedule.

Once at U-Haul, I looked at the equipment and rubbed my jaw thoughtfully. I had never worked with these things before. Easy-peasy? Maybe not. It took the clerk and me 15 minutes to figure out how to get the truck connected to the auto transport. It wasn’t a big deal, but a little nuance was required. Off to the auto yard we went…now, 45 minutes behind schedule.

Google Maps showed that the yard, located in Manheim, New Jersey, wasn’t far. I went straight there figuring I’d see what the process was, find some place close to buy the money order, then seal the deal. Like I wrote, there had to be a place nearby.

The yard was absolutely sprawling. Thank God the streets were broad because I had to make a couple of wide u-turns in my 15-foot truck with trailer in search of the “redemption” lot. This is where they hold cars saved by their respective owners from auction and thus made available for pick up. I spotted my blue hulk sitting way off in the back. I called the yard office to ask where I could find a Walmart or financial institution to buy the doggone money order. “Oh, there’s one about 5 miles down the road, but there are a few banks even closer,” said the nice lady.

Banks overcharge for money orders, plus my baby needed a restroom. Off to Walmart we went…now, an hour and 15 minutes behind schedule.

I don’t know if the lady on the phone measures miles the same as everyone else, but it had to be 10 minutes before we saw so much as a strip mall. By then, Joss was telling me that any gas station would be fine. I saw some Brand-X joint coming up, so I pulled over. Joss climbed out of the cab like a spider down tree bark. I had to run around the front of the truck to track her down! By the time we spotted each other again, we had both figured the probable location of the restroom and made a bee-line toward it. We met near the door and Joss pushed it ajar.

Sunlight may never have revealed such filth confined to such small quarters. Joss and I locked eyes and immediately burst into laughter. “Umm, I think I can wait for Walmart” she giggled and back on the road to Walmart we went…now, 2 hours behind schedule.

At last, we found that fabled Walmart, took care of our business, and beat it back to the redemption lot. Once there, I handed the attendant my ID and the money order to set the stage for our reunion with the world’s biggest Matchbox car. Mission accomplished? Er, we’ll be right back after these messages, ladies and gentlemen.

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