Sunday, June 15, 2008

What Goes Around, Comes Around...

You know how when you're alone and your eating breakfast, how your mind might wander off someplace that you haven't visited for a very long time? Well, that's what happened to what is left of my once pretty sharp mind. I was thinking about a transaction that brought a smile to my face, although at the time it was a disaster. It's also an example of how most things get evened out by the big guy up above and karma.

One fall day, I was at the auto auction when a white Dodge van went through. I'd recently had pretty good luck with vans and thought, this is a fairly low mileage one and the color is right, why not? I bid on it and eventually I was the high bidder and took possession of it. Sometime, between when I bought it and when I picked it up, it received a dent in the right front fender. I mentioned it to the management and they looked at the check in inspection, which included several pictures and sure enough, it wasn't there before. They told me to take the van, get it repaired and send them the bill for the repair. I was shocked that they would stand behind the incident and did as they said. I went to a body shop where a friend of mine was the owner and asked him how much to repair the dent. When he was finished, the estimate came to $700! I was again surprised, but he explained that I asked for a retail estimate and that he didn't owe me any favors currently and that's what he would charge to do the repair. I said, okay and took the estimate to the auto auction where they happily cut me a check. I took the check, tucked it deeply into my pocket for depositing and called Dent Masters. If you're not familiar with Dent Masters, they remove dents without body work. They prod and pry and with some pretty sophisticated tools cause the dent to just seemingly "jump out" of the fender. Although it wasn't perfect, it was certainly passable and it only cost me $50 for the 10 minutes of work.

Other than the repair to the fender, the van was completely ready for sale. I placed an ad in our local newspaper and waited. I got a few calls and eventually someone came out to see it. It was sort of an unusual couple. It was a father and son and the son was old enough to be my father, leaving his father to be somewhere around 90. The younger guy did all of the talking. They were looking for a van for Dad. He was more than capable of driving still and needed something to get him around as he wrecked his last car. It's never my position to judge people that want to purchase a car from me, but this guy certainly looked too frail to be driving. The son asked if they could take it for a test drive and of course I agreed. The son got into the driver's seat and pulled away with Dad in the passenger's seat waving goodbye. I waved back, looking in the garage for something to do for the 5 minutes they were gone. When they returned, Pop was driving and decided to back her into the driveway as opposed to pulling in straight. He was slow, methodical and precise, backing cautiously into my driveway............... until the last second where he meant to step on the brake and stop the van, but instead pounced on the accelerator, smashing into my house! I can't even describe the funny noise I made when I saw what he was headed for.

The old guy got out of the crunched van and started apologizing, using lots of, I thoughts..... I should haves..... and I'm sorrys...... That's when I pulled the van foreword to inspect the damage to the house. He had rammed the house pretty good and all I could think of is the $500 deductible on my home owners and the $1000 deductible on the car insurance. None of the damage was bad enough to reach those figures... The gentlemen left, promising to think about it. They called me the next day to tell me that they have found one that they liked better and it didn't have a smashed rear end.. I asked him if he was prepared to pay for some of the damage they caused and he explained to me something that I already knew.. That it was my responsibility to handle my own repairs if I'm going to do business from my home. Seething, I hung up and called the handyman that had quoted me $650 for the house repair alone. Humph, isn't that the same amount that I saved from the auction?

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