Friday, November 26, 2010

When Black Friday Comes…


I am just not a big fan of the crowds; though I love a deal, I can't stand the pushing and shoving, and there's no way I'm camping out on the sidewalk overnight for anything for Christmas. I love a deal year-round, and those amazing deals are out there to be found without having to put up with the Black Friday Crowd. I've been to "The Store That Shall Not Be Named" with My Mom later in the day a couple times, but I don't think I've ever been shopping anywhere any earlier than I'd be getting to work on an ordinary day -- I need my breakfast, and I'm not going to eat while pushing a shopping cart 'cause that's just trashy, and I'm not going to eat in an elbow-to-elbow crowd either, 'cause that's just gross.

I've found some excellent deals over the years; but none of 'em were Black Friday Deals. My favorite deals are mostly the result of always keeping an eye out or being in the right place at the right time… None of 'em involved chasing my ass out of bed at an unholy hour to freeze half to death fighting a shopping cart through a crowd of grumpy strangers.

My favorite Black Friday Story involves only minimal shopping…

In 1998, my 22nd Birthday landed on Black Friday. I was in PTA School and had been considering a tattoo for quite a while, but there was always a friend or boyfriend or someone there to talk me out of it, but not anymore -- I had me some girlfriends, and one of 'em knew a guy who ran a tattoo place just across the state line in Siloam Springs Arkansas. I told the folks we were all going out shopping for Christmas, and we loaded up in my car, the three of us and "Kelly," the kidnapped training mannequin from the college, who went along strictly for the photo opportunities.

I'd fully planned it out to make the trip on the sly; we stopped on the way out of town for aluminum foil to wrap up my Pikepass so we could pay cash for tolls and not have anything show on the statement. I called My Mom and checked in from the loud, crowded grocery store where we picked up the foil, then I turned off my phone at the city limits so it wouldn't show any roaming charges.

My Bee tattoo is from a stamp that I picked up on a random trip to Hobby Lobby, way back before I knew the magic of the yarn department.

With two piercings, one tattoo, and an entire roll of film, we were headed back into Tulsa while it was still light outside.

I was very careful to always keep pants or socks on at home. My folks never knew a thing about it for almost six months, when late into April, I headed into the kitchen in my bathrobe without any socks. I realized what I'd done when I was about halfway through the living room and Mom had already seen me, it was too late to turn around and go back for socks. She saw it while I was pouring a glass of milk, and the shit hit the fan. The fit that ensued involved everything from IV drug use to white trash to homelessness to slutty girls to just don't fucking talk to me about it to think about finding some other place to live; and I never said another word that day.

It's a honey bee, notably life-like, life-size or thereabouts, and I can cover it up with a nickel. It's on my right ankle, just anterior to the distal end of my fibula. Heh, sorry, just had to say it like that 'cause I was in PTA School when I got it. It's on the outside of my ankle, right behind (level with) that bony bump, 'cause you know how all those homeless, slutty, white trash needle-druggies get nickel-size tattoos to hide the tracks 'cause they're shooting it in right there by their ankle bones, right?

My little honey bee is twelve years old today, and I think he still looks alright -- the yellow has faded from his little stripes, but his lines have stayed crisp and black. I still like him, I still hit him with a little lotion (or sometimes lip balm) to wake him up when I'm wearing shorts or sandals where I might get to show him off. I think My Mom has managed to get over it, mostly; and for me, regret has never been a factor.

Happy twelfth birthday, lil buddy, sorry it's too cold to let you out to play today!

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Psychic Powers.

I've joked about bein' psychic before, and deep down, I know it's bullshit, but…

A couple weeks ago, the neighbor kid crashed his Ford Explorer on the way home from Owasso. Someone ran a stop sign, he tried his best and managed to slow down a good bit, but he didn't quite miss 'em. Thankfully, nobody got hurt and the owner of the other car had good insurance, which provided a rental car and hauled the almost-driveable Ford Explorer away to a storage facility "while they decide which way to go." I'm not here to bitch about insurance companies, but we're talkin' about a highschool kid who was makin' payments on a cheap-but-decent older-ish Ford Explorer -- it wasn't a new car, but it was reliable and he liked it and it really wasn't crashed all that hard.

We were all standin' around at work talkin' about it Wednesday afternoon, 'cause he'd called us to ask about the place where they'd towed his Explorer. Oh, That Other Auction Company, the one we don't use. We have an account with one of the local insurance auctions, it's where I got the limo, which has led to my habit of checking the listings every few days or so. I look through That Other Auction Company's listings once in a while, but I don't have a habit of it 'cause I know I can't log in and bid, so there's really no point.

The auction company that we use has their website set up where users can search for specific vehicles, and if a given car is on the property, it shows in the inventory -- if it's ready to sell, it'll show an auction date and location, if it's not, it'll show a reason why, something like "hold" or "need title" or whatever. Apparently That Auction Company That We Don't Use doesn't work that way, they only show the cars that are ready to sell. I had hoped to get a look at the Explorer just to see how bad it was damaged just because it didn't really seem like the insurance company was giving the kid a fair deal… I didn't have any luck, but I did end up skimming through a few listings. After I'd checked out a few trucks and looked through all the Towncars, DeVilles, and Fleetwoods just to see if there were any hearses in the bunch, I clicked the little button with the calendar on it and scrolled down to the Tulsa list.

Their auction in Tulsa was on Friday, and the list was set up a lot like the other auction company -- list of cars, thumbnail photo on the left side. I looked through a few cars and trucks, just clicking the ones that looked interesting for whichever reason. I guess I was about a quarter of the way through the list of a couple hundred cars when the though hit me: I wonder what ever came of the car that Kenny & Debbie crashed over here on West 61st Street… I figured I'd finish looking through the rest of the sale listing and then search for Toyota Solaras just to see if it turned up, ya know, unless I got distracted with the phones or something and forgot.

A little further down the list, there was a blue Toyota Solara with a junk title and a biohazard flag.

Oh shit. There's that sick, sad feeling, just like when that "Estate Sale" sign turned up on the corner at 61st & Union.

Now, when I used to see 'em every once in a while, they had a white minivan and a couple burgundy cars. I never saw the Toyota except the little bit of silvery blue that could be seen in the spill of the firetrucks' lights on the television news…

I grew up in the salvage business, I've seen a lot of crashed cars. I've seen some really really bad ones where somebody shows up asking if they can get their stuff out of the car -- even when the cars have the unholy shit knocked out of 'em, I guess I just always harbor the hope that the people might've made it out alright somehow. I'm sure we've had several that nobody walked away from; but there's always that chance, 'cause we really never know, we don't get any backstory unless we buy it from a family member. With auction cars, anything could've happened; driver thrown clear by the impact, car unoccupied at time of impact, who knows, there's always a chance somebody made it out of a really bad one. I walked (eh, stumbled) away from Ford Truck that looked like nobody got out, it can happen, so there's no way to tell.

When we can know what happened, that makes it completely different.

When belonged to someone we know, that also makes a big difference.

Even without a definite identification on the car, it was a silvery blue Toyota Solara, it was hit really hard, potential fatality hard, and it had been hacked up with the jaws. When I saw the wheelchair still in the back seat, I got that sick and sad feeling even worse -- yip, that's their car. I guess there wouldn't have been any real reason to get it out of there, or maybe the car was wadded up so bad it wouldn't come loose, whatever, I'd say it was a sure sign it was the same car.

When I wrote that post, "The Shit You Been Through," I mentioned having questions that I might not ever know the answers to. Seeing the pictures of the car only left me with one really big question. To crash a car that hard, it takes tremendous speed, way more speed than you'd see from normal folks, driving at night on a little two-lane street among houses with a "day school" on one side and a park with a jogging trail on the other side, having just come through a major intersection with a stoplight. They were almost there, two more turns and then into the driveway, that close to home. To tear the car up that bad, it must've been haulin' serious ass. Haulin'. Serious. Ass.

None of the news articles mentioned who was driving, but one did say there was no evidence of involvement of drugs or alcohol.

My one big question: What if it was that whole Toyota throttle thing? What if…

I guess where I was going with that is that when we hear about that whole throttle thing on the news, it's scary, but it's not personal, it's just somebody on the news. When it's someone you've spent time with, it's heartbreaking, even if you kinda lost touch over the years. It's not just somebody on the news, it's somebody who handed me a cold beer and then made me laugh 'til I couldn't drink it without choking.

It's never too late to send a quick hello to someone from your past -- because when they're gone, they're always gone too soon.

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