Monday, April 18, 2011


I'm the type of poor person that has to buy toilet paper two rolls at a time. The paper isn't that fancy two ply either. My T.P. is gas station quality, the transparent kind that dissolves on contact with water. I'm the type of poor that Taco Bell seems like fine dining  I am financially challenged not to the point where I go starving but to the point where I have to cook food in bulk and eat the same thing over the course of 12 days. I'm not planning on going on a whining rant about how poor I am and how you should feel bad for me, rather I am setting the scene to relay a short story that I think is funny. Dark funny.

A couple of years ago my wife (then girlfriend) got a phone call that her uncle had a seizure, fell on his head and was on life support in the hospital presumed to die imminently.(are you laughing yet?) We got in our car, filled it with it's daily dose of oil and transmission fluid, and drove down the road en route to meet up with my soon to be mother in law. When we arrived at her house it was decided in advance that we were going to take her car because our car had bad rear shocks (read none) so that if anyone sat in the back seat the tires would rub on the wheel wells until the tires blew up. 

Cue rain, heavy rain. After we loaded up the luggage into mom's car we shot off like a bat out of hell all the way to the gas station. We pooled our dollars, nickels and dimes and were able to fill the tank. As soon as we went to make our getaway from the gas station every device that used electric current died on the car. The window defroster had always been broken so the only way to see out the windshield while driving on a rainy day was to drive with the windows open. However, on this occasion the window wipers died and stuck at a 45 degree angle against the window. After we popped the hood and pointed at things that could be broken, we collectively agreed that we all didn't know shit about car repair and that unplugging and replugging fuses was probably a bad idea in the pouring rain. 

 We didn't have the money to rent a car but my wife's aunt's house was on the way. Her aunt had a previous engagement that prevented her from visiting with her dying brother. She did assure us though that if we could make it to her house that we could borrow one of her cars. We decided out of desperation that we would chance driving our car. The ultimate destination of Bakersfield otherwise known as the ass hole of California was about a 5 hour drive but my wife's aunt was only 40 minutes away. So we all piled into the car and clunked along. Every bump in the road slowed the car down about 10 miles per hour and helped contribute to bald spots in our tires but we ultimately made it to my wife's aunt's house.

Upon arriving there we were told that my aunt didn't feel comfortable with lending us her car (i.e. she didn't want my mother in law to drive it) We invited her to come along with us but she refused and instead offered up the option of renting a car for us. My wife's aunt is in a position to do this because they are well off and I suspect my mother in law likes taking advantage of this whenever she can. All money matters have to go through my wife's uncle though who is the bread winner of the house. He is typically tight on spending because his wife is not. 

Off we went to the car rental place where my mother in law and my uncle in law did a strange dance of opposing perspective. She attempted to get the largest most luxurious vehicle available while he tried to find the bridge between frugal and compassion. They eventually agreed on a mid sized sedan, a Pontiac G6. After a little more deliberation on what kind of insurance we needed we squared everything away and got on the road in our shiny red Pontiac.

At some point on the trip I started to have a sick feeling. At first I couldn't figure it out but eventually I realized in some perverse way that it was joy. Why joy you ask? This was the first time in months we had gone anywhere. We were driving in a car that had decent performance, 4 doors with working power windows. The cabin was airy and comfortable, it even had cup holders that worked. I began to romanticize what kind of person lives the G6 life? When they buy groceries do they get brand names? Do they know the luxury of filling a gas tank until it's full? Do they have enough money to wash their underwear and their shirts the same week? Better yet, do they own their own property?

When we stopped at a rest stop I asked my wife to take picture of me behind the wheel of the car. I needed to document the fact that I had once driven a mighty newish sedan. Better yet, in Bakersfield there was a suite at the Motel 6 with promises of HBO, extra towels and free coffee in the lobby. FREE COFFEE!!! We were living like kings and it was all because someone was probably going to die. A death sentence for one man became a vacation for us. 


  1. I see my humor is of the dark kind. Great story.

  2. That picture of the car on fire reminds me of a hilarious time long ago.

  3. I really tried hard not to laugh for sensitivity reasons and appropriateness.
    But then again, a huge bubble foamed in my nose, so I just had to give in.
    I really tried. Trust me.

  4. *Chuckles* *Giggles* feels a little bit guilty then more Giggles.

  5. Good post. Sorry about your Uncle-in-law.

  6. HA! I know it man. I been driving my car with the "check engine" light on for the past TWO YEARS!!! I LOVE renting a car when I have to.

  7. Liked this story. How did it end, though? Did your uncle-in-law pass away? I can't take the suspense.

    And I totally know how you feel about driving crappy cars. That's all I've ever owned.

  8. @shanimal: He did not die then. Miraculously he came back to life and seemed to get better only to die about four short months later due to liver failure. The story is a tragedy, it ends in death.

  9. jeeeeezus you crack me up. i've been to that poor house ... once a beggar asked me if i had any change and i looked at him and almost cried and said, "No. Do you?!"

    He said yes and pulled out a bunch of it from his pocket to give me.

    i told him to keep it.

  10. 1] sorry @ yr relative. loss can be rough...
    2] i TOTALLY get it. really really get it. if i explain/share my getting it- i will sound like a self-pittiful twat- which i am at times. today is a good day though.
    i personally have to get gratitude-y for the little i do have when i feel too bad for myself, or it's a dark and deep abyss...................... and good luck crawling out of that shark-tank!