Archive for July, 2011

Life In the Land of Old

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

With the exception of 2007, this is the first May, June and July we’ve stayed entirely at home since 2002 – we were in California in 2003, Maine in 2004, Missouri in 2005, Oregon in 2006, Montana in 2008, Wisconsin in 2009, Ohio and Wyoming in 2010 and of course everywhere else in between and around those states. I’ve almost forgotten how nice Spring and yes, even Summer, is in Colorado, especially in Heather Gardens. Even the 10 days of Monsoon weather we just came through was relatively nice compared to other parts of the nation. We are really rather enjoying ourselves here in our retirement community.

Our “Monsoon” rains do result in some spectacular rainbows (photo taken with my cell phone)

Our ’85 Suburban, the one we call The Beast, has been running well, but it does love gas. It was my thought for a while, after Patrice had her stroke that we would make do with just one car. It was an attempt on my part to simplify, but really, it is almost painful to run errands with it. Going to the grocery store, the post office and any number of other places that are not much more than a couple miles away doesn’t even give its 454 cu inch engine the chance to warm up. Of course, that is the worst kind of gas mileage and I’m too ashamed to even say what our average has been.

So, about a month ago I started eying my neighbor’s car again. It’s parked right next to us in the garage. It’s a 1992 Honda Civic LX with only 30,000 miles on the odometer. My neighbor, we’ll call her Anne – not her real name – is in her Nineties and stopped driving three years ago. All four corners of the car had paint transfer from her brushing against the concrete pillars in the garage. There was even some paint transfer on The Beast when she turned before backing out (there was absolutely no damage to us). But other than those little booboos the Civic drives like a new car. It even has a new car smell.

Last year, I asked if she wanted to sell it, but she said she wanted to give it to her grandson. It has only collected dust since then, the tires slowly losing air, the plates expired. Her grandson wasn’t interested (I can’t explain that, because it makes no sense to me at all). A month ago, I made her a low-ball offer. She told her son to negotiate a sale. He said my offer was way too low, and I found his counter offer way too high. We were at an impasse. The car collected more dust and last week the front right tire was nearly flat. So, I filled all the tires up, dusted the body off and asked for a test drive. I was favorably impressed, and asked Anne how much she wanted for it. She didn’t know and I entered into negotiations with her son again. I can tell you third party negotiation is a, ahem… difficult.

We finally settled on a Blue Book value, compromising between Fair and Good values. Anne wanted to be paid with a, “thirty-five cashier’s check.” I told her I didn’t know what that was. She said her bank had told her that was the safest way to be paid. Now, Patrice used to work at a bank so I asked her, but she had never heard of it either. The next day I went to my Credit Union and asked the teller. She didn’t know. I asked her what kinds of cashier’s checks were available, hoping we could figure out what it was Anne wanted, but the teller was puzzled. “Well,” she said, “the only kind of cashier’s check that I know about is the certified kind.”

The light came on. Anne doesn’t hear all that well and misunderstood what her bank had told her over the phone. She heard certified as thirty-five.

I returned from the Credit Union with plenty of time left in the day for Anne to sign over her title and hoped I’d still be able to get to the DMV for temporary plates. It wasn’t to be. Anne wasn’t ready. She wasn’t even dressed, “My title is in my safety deposit box at my bank. My son will pick me up at one, but I should be back by two.”

You just can’t rush a ninety three year old. I said, “Okay, that’s fine.” I waited until three-thirty to call again, “Anne, how’s it going? I’ve been waiting for you to call.”

“Well,” she said in her thick German accent, “it turns out I haven’t had a safety deposit box for years. I guess I don’t know where the title is.”

Yeah, I thought to myself, I really should have seen that coming. “Okay,” I said, “it’s probably in your condo then. Is your son helping you look for it?”

“No, he went back to work. He’s very busy you know, but I’ve been looking as best I can. There are just so many papers and boxes. My sister, who died last year, I have all her financial documents boxed up in the closet. Mine is in there too, but I’m not sure which one it is. It’s going to take quite awhile for me to find anything, and now I’m so tired…”

The next day it occurred to me that no matter what, I had to make a trip to the DMV, and so I drove Anne there to get a duplicate title. We were able to complete the entire transaction with the clerk’s expertise and help.

First off, the clerk and Anne had the same last name. They hit it off right from the get go. The clerk just glowed at Anne. No doubt, she reminded her of her own grandmother. It all couldn’t have been more pleasant than if there had been a plate of fresh baked cookies and ice cold milk to snack on. The clerk gave me that look that only a woman can give. It’s the one that says, you’re going to do this if you know what’s good for you. Then she said, “you’ll be wanting to pay the fee for her duplicate title, right?”

“Sure,” I said, “why not?”

“And the emissions test?” She added.

“Of course,” I said. I know the seller is supposed to provide the emissions certificate prior to the sale, but then Anne would have to renew her plates, pay a penalty for each month they were expired and then have her son drive the car to an inspection station for testing, all so that I could return to the DMV – what – a week later, a month later? I’m patient, but I’m not that patient. “Not a problem,” I added and forced a smile.

That is how I got a new to me economy car. It has cleaned up just fine. The white paint transfers wiped off with Goo Gone. A dent in the left rear door popped out with a suction cup and the remaining scuffs on the bumpers I covered with matching paint. The clock wasn’t working and the radio wouldn’t hold preset stations, but that was because the fuse, labeled “Backup,” had been pulled so as to not drain the battery. I put the fuse back in place and everything worked. I bought a matching hubcap off eBay for the one Anne destroyed by parking too close to a curb, and last, but not least replaced the battery. Overall, I’ve spent a little over a hundred dollars on repairs and replacements. I have to say, it drives great and it is now almost a joy to run errands.

My nearly new ’92 Honda Civic LX

About the Author

Hi, my name is Forrest McClure. I've been writing for the magazine since its inception. My wife and I travel with our 1966 20' Globe Trotter or our 1986 32' Excella. So, my primary interest is vintage travel trailers.