December 28, 2005

The Cost of Being Ripped Off

Morning Workout
BIKE (trainer)
3x (10 minutes Aerobic Conditioning (Zone 3) + 10 minutes Lactate Threshold (Zone 2))

Random Comments: Nothing like watching Blazing Saddles while doing a somewhat strenuous workout. It becomes a bit challenging when you're pedalling ferociously and the Gatorade-type substance you drink to keep hydrated comes squirting out your nose as you laugh so vigorously your stomach begins to pound in pain. Badges.... we don't need no steenkin' badges.


So it's 7:00AM and I'm pedaling maniacally on the bike, going nowhere. Granted, I'm inside my place with my bike attached to a trainer. Still, I'm going nowhere. Sweat is pouring off of me in buckets like the pore levee has been penetrated, and Class V sweat rapids are spouting from every inch of my skin. It feels great, this going nowhere stuff. I'd imagine it is fairly disgusting to anybody around, but it definitely feels great to me. I pedal on. Suddenly the phone rings. I know it's Catherine - who else would call me at this time of the morning. With only 20 minutes left in my workout, I don't want to stop to answer. She'll understand. In fact, why isn't she working out now? Peculiar... However, I know that if it were a crucial, life or death situation, she'd call back immediately. The immediate double callback (IDC), it's the internationally standard sign of distress.

I wait to hear if the phone rings again. And wait. Nothing but the sound of my pedal stroke drowning my anticipation of hearing that ring. I don't want it to ring again. Another ring means trouble. Another ring means bad news. I don't want bad news.

Sixty seconds pass. Nothing.
I sigh a waft of relief and continue focusing on my workout - or, rather, focusing on Blazing Saddles playing on the television ten inches in front of my nose as I workout.

Twenty minutes later I get off the bike, coated with sweat, and check the phone messages. As expected, it's Catherine. And, as expected, it's not distressing news. To the contrary, my friend, it's good news. The cops found her car!! Happy day! Happy, happy day!

Seeing how the Toyota is one of the easiest cars to break into, apparently some young whipper-snappers decided to take it out for a joy ride. Damn kids. Back when I was a lad, if we wanted to go out for a joy ride, we hopped on our banana seat Huffies and pedaled down the street, lifting our hands off the handlebars and whooping an overwhelming "yeehaa!" in defiant freedom halfway down the block. Today, they steal Toyotas. Life has gotten so much more complicated.

After I get dressed and pack up my car with the winter wear for our Tahoe/Mammoth trip, I pick up Catherine and we head off.

The cops had told Cat that her car was found parked somewhere in Culver City and that it was then towed to the Culver City tow yard. We stop by the police department to pick up the paperwork and head over to the tow yard to get the car. I won't go into extreme details about the tow yard because I'm guessing you can picture it in your head - the assortment of crashed, banged and mangled wrecks piled two high and sprinkled with a smattering of nicer Lexus', Hummers and other assorted repo's that has you making up cops & robbers stories in your head the moment you set eyes on them.

We go into the main office and hand over our paperwork. It'll be One Hundred and Seventy Dollars, he says. What?!?! The car was stolen and WE have to pay for it? Where is the justice? What happened to all the good in the world?! I toss out some annoyingly sarcastic comments which nobody - neither Cat nor the tow yard manager nor, frankly, me - find the least bit amusing. You should check out the car before you pay and see if it works, he retorts. Good thinkin', I think.

We walk back into the yard and look for the car. But we can't find it. Nothing. Nowhere. No car. After a fair bit of back and forth, we come to find that the car was towed to a different tow yard last night, and they're supposed to tow it to this one sometime today. We're told that we can go see the car in the other tow yard, but we'd have to come back and pay for it here, at Tow Yard #1.

So, we hop back in my car and drive the amusingly short 2 miles to Tow Yard #2. Cat is allowed to look at the car. The ignition is broken because they had to jam it in order to start the car, the trunk lock is broken because apparently they were too goddam stupid to find the Open Truck button next to the steering wheel and so they jammed that lock as well, and then random stuff was stolen from the car. There was a box of ski clothes, for instance... they took everything in the box except for one sweater and a set of goggles. They took the portable CD player, but none of the CDs. It was like they picked their way through a flea market. I can picture them standing there, trying on each of the clothes and only stealing the ones that complemented their eye color, or latest hair style. Perhaps their body type was "autumn" so they only wanted to take the items with browns and oranges and other flattering hues in order to look their finest for their next car-jacking. Just our luck, these car thiefs were the only two metrosexuals in the Crips street gang. (They left a pale blue bandana on the front seat - a sure sign they were Crips. And perhaps a sign that they were more Winter than Autumn.)

Seeing how there was no irreparable damage to the car we jumped back in my auto and high-tailed it back to Tow Yard #1 again, where we paid the money to release the car. Once paid, we drove yet again to Tow Yard #2 so we can get it moved. Here's where the fun got funnier. You see, Tow Yard #2 is a certified AAA tow yard. So when your car breaks down and you frantically dial the AAA number for help, the fine folks at Tow Yard #2 often come out to save your sorry ass.

What with the ignition broken, Cat's car was unable to be driven. It had to be towed to the dealer to be fixed. However, Tow Yard #2 would charge $85 to tow the car. The only place that they would tow it to for free is to Tow Yard #1. And the last thing we needed was to go to Tow Yard #1 for the third time this morning. On top of that, seeing how Cat already paid $170 to have this car stolen, she wasn't anxious to keep racking up the bill.

Being the smart one she is, Cat decided to call AAA to tow the car. That membership must be good for something. Realizing that Tow Yard #2 is an AAA agent, I sat there wondering whether they now would have to tow her car for free and eat the damn $85. Apparently they wouldn't. AAA sent a completely different tow truck to the AAA tow yard #2 to tow Cat's car. Now I'm no efficiency expert, but it seems fairly ridiculous that AAA would send a tow truck to their own tow yard. Having spent far too much time at tow yards that morning, I decided not to harp on the thought for too long.

The AAA tow truck lugged Cat's car from Tow Yard #2 to the Toyota dealer for a mere $8.

At the Toyota dealer, we jumped out of the pot and into the proverbial fire when they told us that the cost to fix the ignition is an additional $325. Crime is expensive.
There sure is a hefty cost of being ripped off.