How Catholic guilt lead to a $3,000 car repair.
There I was, the Monday night before Easter, warming a stool at Jimmy’s. Jimmy’s on Monday nights, watching Monday Night Raw with the lovely Heather, bartender extraordinaire, was becoming a tradition. With my work schedule, Monday is my Friday, so, there you have it.
This wasn’t just the Monday before Easter. It was the Monday before the court date on Wednesday to finalize the divorce. Quite possibly the last Monday/Friday night out I was going to get in a while once child support and shared parenting began. I was hoping to make the night last, but seeing as it was just me and Heather, and the final hour of Raw was starting, that hope was fleeting.
Then Jim walked in. Not the Jimmy the bar’s namesake. White dude, ball cap, mid thirties, wearing a landscaping t shirt. He was already sporting a tan from working, even that early in April. He sat a few stools down, ordered a drink, and started playing Keno. He asked if we always watched wrestling on Monday nights, and casually joined in our conversation.
After a bit, Jim went and checked his Keno numbers. That’s when the fun began.
A fortune cookie once told me, ”Always stick around for one more drink. That’s when stuff happens.” Not the most noble of destinies, I guess, but fuck it. What do you want from a fortune cookie?
Jim’s numbers had hit for a few hundred dollars. He formally introduced himself, and bought a round. A shot of blueberry vodka and cranberry juice. We toasted Heather and drank.
I ordinarily prefer vodka flavored vodka. I thought the flavored stuff was for millennials and hipsters, but goddamn if that wasn’t tastiest shot I’ve done in a long time. Not too sweet, not too tart. A liquid Jolly Rancher with a bit of a kick.
With that, the night was young again. We made fun of commercials, watched wrestling, and bullshitted about everything.
Another guy, Nick, I think, came in and took a stool on the other side of me. He started ordering a drink, but Jim told him his money was no good. Bought a round of what Nick was ordering. Apple Crown and something something. Jim told Nick to use the cash he was going to buy the drink with to tip Heather.
The look on Nick’s face said, “What the fuck did I walk into?” He ponied up the cash on the bar.
Jim started to tip Heather also. He looked at me and said, “We have to make this the best Monday night in Heather’s life.”
I was feeling pretty good at that point. Jim had bought me another beer, and another on deck. “What the hell,” I said. “Seeing as it’s for history.” I threw some bills on the pile.
We were having a good old time. Well, I’m not sure about Nick, but, as you’ll see later, fuck Nick.
Jim was getting his second wind and wanted to go do something. He suggested a strip bar, and I passed. Nick was like, “That’s a thought.”
Jim also mentioned he walked to the bar and was going to need to get his truck before anything. He asked if I would take him. “It’s close by.” I didn’t say no, but did point out that I was going to need to let the drinks wear off a bit. I started nursing the beer.
Our general bullshitting continued. Eventually, Jim changed his mind. He now wanted to go to one of the casinos. Nick seemed to perk up a bit. He said, “I’d rather do that than give all my cash away to Jasmine.”
In retrospect, that seemed like an oddly specific statement. I would have went with a more general stripper name, like Champagne or Taboo, but he went right to Jasmine. Must be some history there, but, as you’ll see, I promise, fuck Nick.
Jim checked with me again about driving him home. I reassured him I had his back. The way Jim saw it, Nick would probably take him, but he wanted back up.
After a bit, Jim wanted to go. Nick said he was ready, he just had to take a leak.
We never saw Nick again.
About twenty minutes went by, and Jim asked, “Is Nick OK?”
I checked the back parking lot and returned to my stool. “The only cars are you and me, Heather.”
The three of us shot each other a look, and said, in unison, “Fuck that guy,” followed by a good chuckle.
Jim wanted to go, and I said I’d take him home. He said it would be quick, and I could come right back.
I looked at Heather and asked, “Will you still be open?”
“I’ll be open.”
Heather and I have an unspoken communication thing sometimes. With that little exchange, it was understood that I was to watch my back, and she would call the police if I wasn’t back in half-an-hour.
This is also the point where Catholic Guilt comes into play.
You’ve probably heard it before, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.” That gets me a lot of the time. Usually, the choice isn’t that difficult, just do it. Had it been an attractive woman, ya, it would have been easy. Oddly enough, that never happens to me. A couple of times in my life, somebody asks me for a quick ride. Somebody I’ve never met. Sometimes to a less-than-savory location. I end up saying fuck it and do it. Put yourself in their shoes, they have to ask a complete stranger for a ride. Could be putting themselves in danger as well, from their standpoint. Like I said, attractive women needing a ride is an easy choice to make. Some guy I just met in a bar? Fuck it. He’s putting his trust in me, I’ll return the favor. And yes, there are people in the world that prey on people like me, but, I had a few drinks in me, and being so close to Easter, and me hating the world because of the divorce…
It may not have been a divine test, but I needed to open up to the world again. Pretty good chance Jim wasn’t Jesus, testing my faith, but, what the fuck. What’s the worst that could’ve happened?
The police find my body in a dumpster the next day. Okay, ya, there’s that. But, that didn’t happen. Not this time. At least I would have ended my life without the descriptor divorcee on my eternal record. I’m glass-half-full like that.
I’m writing this, so, rest assured, that didn’t happen.
Jim and I go out the back door to Jimmy’s parking lot. There’s only two vehicles present, and we walked past the first one, but Jim still asks, “Which one’s your’s?”
“Really? I heard those are good cars.”
“It’s lasted me thirteen years.”
“Thirteen? That’s cool. I have to start looking for a car for my kid and I’ve been looking at Escapes.”
“Well, it gets my vote.” For an introvert, I’ve become a lot more chatty since the divorce.
We get in the car and I start to follow his directions to his house, and Jim notices the grinding sound my wheels are making. He says, “Sounds like the bearing are going.”
“Is that what that is? I thought it was the brakes.”
“Nah, it’s the bearings.”
“Good to know.”
We continued to chat until I got Jim to his house. He thanked me, and I told him to think nothing of it, and we parted ways, with my new knowledge that I can relate to the repair shop when I took the car.
I never would have known. I’m a sci-fi/fantasy guy. I know more about the workings of a warp engine than an internal combustion engine.
I returned to Jimmy’s. Heather and I rejoiced at the fact I wasn’t killed, and enjoyed an episode of Impractical Jokers before calling it a night.
Nothing monumental on Tuesday.
Spent Wednesday at the Justice Center, finalizing the divorce. That’s all I’ll say on that topic.
Thursday morning came, and I took Idris (AKA Mariska, AKA the Escape) into the shop, told them the bearings were grinding, and glowed with a rush of testosterone with my car knowledge.
Rob gives me a call Thursday evening. Turns out, the brakes were shot, the bearings were shot, and the engine cradle was rotted. Apparently, that’s a thing. Like I said, warp engines, not internal combustion engines. I’ve been taking my car to Rob since we moved here, so, I have no reason not to trust him. And the estimate was about $3,000. Fuck. I told Rob I would call him back.
Mom to the rescue. She told me she would be able to help me out. At 51 years old, with no where to turn to, Mom will still have your back.
I called Rob back and told him to go ahead with the repairs. The car should be ready Monday. I went to Mom’s to pick up the check.
Friday morning, I go to the bank to deposit the check. There is a line for the tellers, so, being the impatient sort, I make the deposit at the ATM.
Rob calls Friday afternoon to tell me we had a stroke of luck. One of his suppliers had one cradle left and the car should be ready by the end of the day.
I stopped by the shop a little later, and Rob showed me the cradle in question. Rotted was being kind. There wasn’t much left holding it together, and I thought it would disintegrate in front of my eyes on the shop floor.
I started checking my account, waiting to see if the deposit was completed. Apparently, I had to wait until the end of the business day for that to happen.
I check after 5pm, and the deposit hasn’t cleared. I called customer service, and was informed, since I used the ATM instead of the teller, the funds wouldn’t be available until Saturday morning.
This is the kind of luck I have.
I called Rob back and told him about the situation. Rob reassured me it would be OK; the shop is usually closed on weekends, but, they were having a training on Saturday. Just give him a call when I got there, and we would handle it then.
Saturday morning. Rob had given me a loaner, and I went to go fill the tank before returning it. Now, the tank wasn’t full when I got it, but, Rob did me a solid, so I filled it.
Turns out, there was still one more curve ball to go.
I get to the shop, and Rob rings up the bill. Just a bit over $3k. Not a problem, it’s covered.
Or so I thought.
Only the $3k minus the cost of a tank of gas would clear. Customer service told me there was a $3k limit on purchases, but, I could go get the rest of the money from an ATM.
Rob had a better idea. “We’re gonna go old school.” From behind the counter, he pulled an old-time credit card swipe thing. Did I mention the warp engines? Rob ran the balance on the machine and said he would put it through first thing Monday morning.
I apologized for all of the trouble and thanked him. And I apologized again. I asked Rob, “So, I’m guessing, maybe two more good bumps in the road and my car would have become a snow plow, huh?”
Rob smiled. “Ya, petty much. The car should be good for a long time,now.”
When I got home, my phone buzzed me. Seems Goggle Maps wanted to know if I wanted to review The Parma Heights RadAir. Boy did I ever. My two chubby little thumbs typed more than they ever had before.
I’ve thought a lot about that week.
Was Jim really Jesus? Probably not.
Was Rob? Possibly. Definitely a Good Samaritan.
Was this a divine test? Again, probably not.
Was it a warning? No.
But, I’ll tell you what. It was a heads-up. A cosmic “Hey, Dummy, you can’t fix bad noises from your car just by turning up your radio.”
To quote Vincent Vega, to the best of my memory, “Shit like this doesn’t just happen, there’s a reason.”
I find comfort in that thought.