Sunday, June 30, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 74


The Time Mookie and Megan Hired Home Town Restyling 
(And It Was A Nightmare) Part III

Writing this third installment of the Home Town Restyling saga has been bittersweet.  I have received comments and questions from readers as to when I would finish the story, which I found exciting because someone was actually reading this crap.  However each time I started working on it, the recollections of how bitter and disappointed my wife and I felt during this whole thing made me close the story after only one or two paragraphs.  Finally, after multiple attempts to push through the bitterness - I now present to you the last (and hopefully final) installment of this little tale.

Disclaimer:  The following story is 100% true.  I must say this because I don’t need someone coming out of the woodwork and suing me for defamation, slander, or libel.  Everything stated here is matter of fact, and indisputable.  Trust me...nobody would WANT to make this stuff up.

Let me start Part III by re-introducing the characters to you:

Mookie:  Yours truly.
"Megan(*)" My hot wife.
Home Town Restyling (HTR):  The company we hired for various home improvements.
HTR Sales Guy:  The guy that sold us on the 3 jobs we have hired HTR to do.
Wayne:  The owner and president of Home Town Restyling.
Foreman Guy(*):  The guy responsible for the workers who did the 3 jobs.
Two Dudes(*):  The guys who did the original window/trim job on our house in Part I.
Ken and Lonny(*): The guys who did the window replacement/trim on our house after the 2011 storm.
Joe and Tony(*):  The guys who did the soffit/facia replacement.

When I ended Part II, "Foreman Guy" had just showed up to review our concerns over the work that was previously done on the front porch windows/trim, and the soffit/facia.  He said that he would be sending "Joe and Tony" back up to our house to "correct" our issues with the soffit/facia, and also have "Ken" come back to fix the issues on the porch trim around the windows.  While we were disappointed that we had to have some of the work "re-done," we did appreciate the fact that they were trying to make things right.  I'm sure all of the shenanigans and misinformation at the beginning of the soffit/facia job had something do with with their eagerness.

As promised, "Joe and Tony(*)" showed up a short time later and took to fixing the issues we had pointed out to "Foreman Guy(*)."  As I stated in Part II - I liked Joe and Tony because they were really nice guys and diligent workers.  I even went as far to tell Joe that I felt bad making him come back to fix a few things.  He said that it was part of the job, and that he wanted to do what he could to make it right.  To their credit - Joe and Tony made the changes we asked for as best they could.  Admittedly, it wasn't "perfect" but it was much better than it was before.

Then Foreman Guy called and said that "Ken(*)" would be coming back by himself to fix the issues with the trim.  We were very apprehensive about messing with the trim - given our issues with it when we had the first set of windows done (in Part I) - but it had to be done.  The issues of trim starting to come loose and looking warped in some places less than 6 months after it was installed was something that could not be overlooked.  Ken did an "OK" job when they put the porch windows in, so we had some hope that he'd be able to correct the trim.  WOW were we wrong.

A "lovely" unevenly ended seam
When I arrived home after work the day Ken did the corrections, I could not believe what I was looking at.  It looked WORSE than it did before, and probably as bad as "The Two Dudes(*)" handiwork (back in Part I).  How bad?  Take a look at the pictures that run down the side of the story here and judge for yourself.

Poorly seamed (and sharp) corner
This ladies and gentlemen - is what our hard earned money purchased.  For what we paid, we expected flawless beauty.  What we got....well...I could have f'n done this.  Which is why I DIDN'T DO IT.  Please note that these pictures only show small parts of the whole screw up.

Another uneven and poorly cut end
Needless to say, we decided that Wayne - Mr. Home Town Restyling himself - again needed to be made aware of how unhappy we were with the piss-poor handiwork done by his master craftsmen.  So I penned yet another email, and this time I attached pictures - some of the very ones you are looking at here.  His reply was short and sweet.  He said he would have Foreman Guy look at it and take care of it.  Yep.  Awesome...I'm sure he will.

One of my favorites: Loose flaps of trim and
gaping holes at the seams
Foreman Guy called and let us know that he would be coming up and making the corrections himself, which was funny because this is the very same thing he had to do when we had the windows put in the first time (in Part I).  So while we felt that he might do an OK job, we were so pissed off at the fact that they had to make a THIRD attempt to install the trim work around the porch windows.  THREE TIMES.  I wish I could F up that many times at my job and still get paid for it.  

Poorly cut corners and shitty caulk work
So one day Foreman Guy showed up did his best to make all the seams smooth and even, and not goop caulking all over the place.  In the end, while the seams were good, the some of edges where pieces of trim butt up against one another were not perfect.  His fix for this was to cover the joints with caulk, and then paint over the caulk with a color that matched the trim.  It looks OK, but this is not something we would have asked him to do.  If we wanted lipstick, we would have paid for lipstick.  

To finish off his work, he re-hung the front porch light on the front of the house and called it a day.

Trim with even MORE warping than it had before
When reviewing Foreman Guy's work, I have to admit that we were not 100% satisfied with the job he did.  However, we were so sick of dealing with them that we sort of resigned ourselves to the fact  that we should accept it so that they didn't screw it up anymore.  The really sad part is though, when we were actually TRYING to give up...we found more issues.

More poorly cut and loose flaps of trim
Foreman Guy had to remove the front door to do some of the trim work.  When he re-installed it, he didn't do it right.  The door didn't open smoothly or (most importantly) even LOCK anymore.  SO I AGAIN called Foreman Guy and let him have it.  I said "Look, our door doesn't even lock anymore.  Unacceptable.  Fix it now."  He of course said he couldn't come and do it right away, so we had to live for a few days with the idea that some hobo could come in and sleep on our porch while we were gone.

So yes......In case you are counting....This was going to be the FOURTH TIME that Home Town Restyling would have to come back to our house to actually complete this job.  They were making corrections from their corrections of making corrections.  Son. Of. A. Bitch.  Four times.  

Does it end there? Of course not my friends.  One day my wife went out to get the mail (this is before Foreman Guy came back to fix the door), and turned on the light switch that not only turns on the front porch light, but also runs the ceiling fan inside the porch.  I'm sure you can guess what happened.....Neither worked.  Not only that, there was an odor that smelled like something was burning.  Now since the light worked before Foreman Guy was last here, it was pretty obvious who was to blame.  It should go without saying that my wife was LIVID.  She called Foreman Guy - and like my last phone call with him - she let him have it and demanded that it be fixed NOW.  So what did Hometown do?  Sensing that their incompetence was overflowing in the matter, they did what they should have done in the first place - they hired someone else to fix it!  

They contracted out to a licensed electrician who showed up within a few hours, and quickly found the root of the problem.  When he removed the porch light, he was able to tell that when Foreman Guy mounted the front porch light to the house, he put a fixture screw right through one of the wires.  The result: When my wife flipped the switch to turn it on - BBBBBZZZZTT - it shorted out big time.  The electrician showed my wife the black soot on the inside of the fixture - AND on the house trim where the wire shorted out.  The electrician did what he needed to do, fixed the light, and went on his merry way.  I just hope he billed the shit out of Hometown for their stupidity.

A few days later, Foreman Guy came up and attempted to fix the door.  Did he fix it?  He claimed he did and I guess he wasn't totally lying.  We found that you COULD lock the door...but you had to use a pair of PLIERS to turn the lock because it turned so hard.  

Did we call them back and ask them to make their FIFTH visit to fix it?  Are you kidding?  We ended up fixing it ourselves.

That was the last time we worked with Home Town Restyling, and hopefully we never will have to again.  In case you are wondering, they never once offered to give us any of our money back, or to do anything "extra" for us to make up for our troubles in the matter.  I suppose I should be happy that they were willing to come back to fix things, because I know some people won't even do that.  One thing that does make me smile though is that I'd bet they lost a butt-load of money due to the extra materials and wasted man-hours spent at our house.  It's a small victory in my evil little mind.

But seriously....If you are in the market for some home remodeling, I urge you to think twice about hiring Home Town Restyling yourself.  Seriously, you can't even make up the shit they put us through.  Who knows what they might do to you........I wouldn't wish that upon anyone.  
If you do hire them though, tell Wayne "Hi" for me.

(*) - Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Third Shift Laugh

I don't know what this guy did, but dammit you have to give the guy credit for going for all or nothing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 73

The Time Mookie Saw The Real Last Game That Was The
Basis Of The Movie: “The Final Season”

Have you seen/heard about the baseball movie called “The Final Season” that came out a few years ago?  If you haven’t -  according to Wikipedia - It is a “feel-good” story about a small town baseball team whose school is going to be consolidated with a nearby school district because their school has small enrollment and is financially unsustainable.  The biggest trouble with this is that it will be the end of the school's immensely successful and storied baseball program (they had won 19 state championships).  Naturally, the focus of the story shows how the team overcomes all odds, and ends up making a historic run at their 20th state championship during their “final season.” 

Needless to say, heart strings are pulled and sentimentality probably overflows.

Why (you may wonder) am I paraphrasing the film summary from Wikipedia instead of giving my own observations about it?  Well, this is because I never saw the movie.  The reason I have never felt the need to see the movie is simple:  It was because I was actually there in real-life to see their real last game.  I will even go as far to say I also played a VERRRY small part in their last season as well.

How so?  Here we go.

The year (1991) that the real team featured in the movie made their improbable run at their last state championship - happened to be the same year my own baseball team happened to make a charge to the state tournament as well.  As I have mentioned in a previous Monday Morning Stories With Mookie, that was also the season where my band of no-talent cohorts and I rode the bench and endured endless bus rides that entire summer.  While our playing time was quite minimal, I dare-say that yours truly gave the finest season-long exhibition in “courtesy running” that had ever (or will ever) been seen in my school’s history.  I stole and slid into so many bases that summer that my knees were more tore up than your Mom’s are after a Saturday Night.  WOOOO! THAT MANY!

During our grind of daily ball games that led us to the state tournament, we eventually crossed paths with the historic team from Norway, Iowa (in which the film is based on) for an afternoon double-header at their field.  In looking back, I remember thinking - even then - that it was kind of a big deal for us to be playing Norway.  We already knew they were a WAY good team, and we already knew about the whole deal with this being Norway’s “final season.”  We knew the team had nothing to lose and were probably going to give us everything they had.

If you have never been to Norway, Iowa - let me fill you in…..There is nothing there.  Seriously.  It is the definition of small-town-middle-America:  It currently has a population between 500-600 people - 98% of which are white, and takes up a whole .45 square miles (POINT FOUR FIVE!).  Having said that, we knew that when we stepped onto Norway’s simple baseball field that they would be ready to play.  As we were the visiting team and first at bat, we showed them that we also meant business by ROCKING Norway in the 1st inning with 14 RUNS.  Yep. Fourteen.  Who got to courtesy run? Yep…I did.  In fact, I got to run (and score) twice during that first inning since we almost batted through the entire order twice.  When Norway finally got us out and we had 14 runs on the board, I had visions of actually getting to play in this game since we were so far ahead already.  Well that vision came to an abrupt halt pretty quick.  Why?  Because Norway teed up on our pitchers in the bottom of the 1st inning and came back at us for FIFTEEN RUNS.  This was something I had never seen before -  a baseball game with a score that rivaled a football game (15-14) and it was only the end of the 1st inning.  Somehow, the rest of the game was minimal scoring affair, and other than an occasional courtesy run opportunity…I did not get to take a position in the field OR step to the plate in that first game.  In the end of that high scoring first game,  Norway edged us out by a run or two.  Certainly not the picture I envisioned at the beginning of the game, but at least I got to participate a little bit with my charity base running.

Then we played the second game of the double-header.  Unfortunately, except for the key fact we WON the game - the second game is not memorable to me in any way, shape or form.  I do not recall the score, nor do I remember if I terrorized the base paths.  I’d like to think that I contributed in some way to our victory during our last game against the legendary Norway team,  but odds are good I probably didn’t.  In fact, I would bet sure money that I probably spent the entire game screwing off and doing the “Go Ask Mookie About His Dad’s Wedding Ring” trick with “Rick (*).  If anything, Hollywood should hit me up about making a movie about that joke.  That joke is legendary in itself.....But I digress.  At least we won the game.

Fast-forward several weeks, and my team found itself in the opening round of the State Tournament.  We had gone most of the summer being ranked #1 in the state for division 3A, and this was the first time my high school had sent a team to State in years, so it was pretty cool to be a part of it.  We even got a team send-off from the community and police escort to the city limits when we left for the tournament.  In the end though, all of the hype and all of the #1 rankings were all for naught - we lost in epic fashion during the first round game to the team that eventually won the 3A championship.  While I will always remember this game because I stole 2nd base during my courtesy run opportunity - and had my name announced on the radio for doing so – I will also remember the let-down feeling everyone had after we lost.  We knew we were the better team, but our display on the field definitely said otherwise.  We stunk it up big time and truly beat ourselves with errors and poor batting.  I’ve heard people say that sometimes the pain of losing during a tournament is eased a bit when you find out that the team you lost to ends up being the eventual champions (as was the case here).  To those people I say "Shut the eff up.  Losing sucks."

Now because our school had such high hopes for us and thought we’d make it past the 1st round, instead of sending us home - they stupidly set us up in a hotel that night.  Since we did not have to get rest for a game the next day, you can imagine the shenanigans and juvenile behavior we all engaged in the rest of the night.  Most of us stayed up the entire night drinking DANGEROUS quantities of Mountain Dew, prank-calling each other’s rooms, and tormenting the “less-intelligent” people on the team.  Quality fun.  God, I still remember sneaking out of the hotel at 3AM with one of my teammates and going across the street to the gas station to buy two more cases of Mountain Dew.  If it is possible to become intoxicated on Mountain Dew, it's safe to say we did.

When the coaches “woke up” everyone at 8:30 for breakfast, you can probably imagine what they found was pretty harsh.  They found players who looked, smelled, and felt like shit, and saw that most of rooms were destroyed with food containers and piles of Mountain Dew cans.  Unfortunately for us, the coaches told us that we were NOT going home right away as we hoped – but instead we were going BACK to the ball diamond that day and watching the finals of the tournament.  Oh. My. God.  The main reason for this was that Norway (who was a division 1A team) had improbably won their first round game and were in the finals for (what you obviously know now) what would be the last time.  I don’t know if it was set up this way on purpose to build up the hype/tension or what, but the Norway game was the last one that day.  This meant we had to sit there ALL GODDAMNED DAY in the sweltering sun with caffeine hangovers and watch several games before we even got to see Norway’s last attempted run at greatness.  Finally after what felt like the longest afternoon EVER, the game started. 

I will not bore you with the details of the game (or “ruin” the end of the movie if you haven’t seen it) - but I will tell you that it had everything - It had drama, it had tension, and it even had a legitimate heart-attack (although I hear the one portrayed in the movie is not factually correct).  It was one I am glad to say I witnessed in person, even though my caffeine-addled brain thought otherwise at the time.

In looking back at it all, I’m surprised that it took as long as it did for Hollywood to give this whole story the attention it deserved.  It was the kind of improbable situation and story that script writers LIVE for and wish they could write.  Having said that….Again…It’s also probably why I’ve never seen the movie.  The real thing is always better, and I'd hate for the move to muck up that memory.

Plus...seriously.....Hollywood....give me a call about making a movie based on the “Go Ask Mookie About His Dad’s Wedding Ring” story.  It would make some phat cash.


(*) – Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent.

Miss a previous Monday Morning Story?  Click HERE to catch up!!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there.

In honor of the day, I had to share this stupid one:
Yep!  Spoil your Dad or the father of your child(ren) this Father's Day......by sending him to the store so he can buy you some pads.

Fellas.  It's ok.  At some point we all have to do it.  It will be OK.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Today's Vocabulary Lesson

The word for today is "Most."


Big Brother Is Listening!

I'm sure you've heard all about the NSA and the government listening to all your phone calls.  I don't know why this is such a shock to people, as I have assumed they have been doing it for years.  If you haven't seen the movie "Enemy of the State," you should.  That was made like 10 years ago and still rings true today.

Either way...this makes me laugh.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Funny Vandalism

I love vandalism that doesn't actually hurt things - like this one here.  They went to the trouble of putting up pieces of paper instead of writing on the wall.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 72

The Time Mookie Worked As A Busboy

Yep, it’s time for yet another tale from my employment history.  The employer:  Royal Fork Buffet.

When I first started working for the hell-hole that is Wal-Mart, they gave me pretty much all the hours I wanted to work.  Even though I was technically a part-time employee, I was easily working around 36 hours a week.  This was awesome because it allowed me to pay my bills, and pay rent at the (formerly) mighty Funke Apartments.  Then right after the Christmas holiday, Wal-Mart tightened up the purse strings and cut hours across the board.  My hours went from a healthy 32-36 a week to TEN.  I saw the schedule and about crapped my pants.  There was no way I could pay my rent, eat, or continue my social night-life on ten hours a week.  I wasn’t sure what to do. 

In looking back, I can honestly say it was probably my first real financial set-back after moving out of my parent’s house and living on my own.  

Not long after seeing what the future schedules at Wal-Mart were going to be, I called home one afternoon and talked to my Dad.  I shared with him that Wal-Mart had slashed my hours and my general uncertainty about things.  Predictably he had a tone of empathy, but I could also tell by his voice that he sensed I was going to ask him for money.  Asking my parents for money is something I have always hated to do. I had been out on “my own” barely five months, and asking my parents for money at this point would have seemed like an utter failure on my part.  So with what felt like my pride on the line, I vowed to try to make the best of my situation and DID NOT ask them for money.

As luck would have it (if you want to call it that), a new restaurant was just opening up on the far side of the Wal-Mart parking lot - The sign said “Royal Fork Buffet.”  With great trepidation, I entered the eatery and filled out an application for any position they had open.  The manager promptly hired me as a Busboy, and said that it paid minimum wage.  I was not thrilled as it was significantly less than what I made per hour at Wal-Mart, but at least it was some sort of income.  As I had to provide my own “uniform,” I went to Wal-Mart and bought a cheap pair of black slacks, and a white dress shirt that I would not care about if I stained it with pudding.

I showed up for my first shift, and received my on-the-job training in about 4 minutes:  Carry a tub around, pick up dishes people are done with, if they were completely done with their meals-clear and wipe down the table for the next patron, and use a little sweeper to clean up crumbs.  When my tub was full of dishes I would take it back into the kitchen, dump any uneaten food or refuse into the garbage, and then slide the tub through a window to the dishwasher who took it from there.  I would then pick up a new tub and do it all over again.  I quickly learned the job was f*cking gross.  We didn’t get to wear gloves of any kind, so I had to touch half-eaten food and garbage with my bare hands.  I shudder just thinking about it now. I'm surprised I didn't get hepatitis or something.  To this day I still don’t like touching half-eaten food.  Even when I do my own kids’ dishes now -  I cringe.

Along with handling gross partially-eaten food (and seeing gross people eat), there was the smell.  
Due to my previous tenure at Hardee's, and because my roommate "Russ*" worked at Red Lobster - I was quite aware of the odors that may arise from food preparation.  I was always grossed out when Russ would come home after his nightly shift in the kitchen at Red Lobster, reeking of greasy seafood. Even after he would change his clothes and get cleaned up, the smell never entirely went away.  This was mainly due to the boots he wore to work having God-Knows-What embedded in the tread.  I thought nothing would ever smell as bad as this.  I was wrong.  The Royal Fork kitchen had the most HORRIBLE smell and was something I will never ever forget.  It was a mix of grease, fried chicken, seafood, vegetables, and humid body odor.  When you already have a dislike of each one of these items by themselves – which I do,  the smell of all of these things compounded together was truly UNBEARABLE.  The only reprieve to it was going back out into the dining room and pick up dirty dishes.

Each time I went to work I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t that bad, and that the alternative (asking for money/moving home) was worse.  So I sucked it up and went about my business.  Thankfully, the shifts during the week were only a tolerable four hours, but unfortunately the ones on the weekends were eight.  An eight-hour shift of cleaning up after gross people eating gross mass-
She was mad butter wasn't an entree
produced food was exhausting and unappetizing.  With the exception of a small dish of soft-serve ice cream on a break one time, I NEVER ate there.

Not long after I started, the manager thought it was necessary to place a list in the back room of the various positions the restaurant had, and list each employee under their respective position.  It was quickly determined that this was not just a list – it was a “ranking.” In other words:  It was visual display of how well the manager thought you did your job.  I was surprised to see that I was ranked #2 out of the 15 or so names under the busboy heading.  Obviously the “competitor" in me wanted to figure out who was #1, and soon I learned it was a guy I had previously seen hustling all over the place.  He was a full-time busboy and a real go-getter.  I did not aspire to have that much pride about my busboy role, so I was OK not being #1.  I also thought it was funny that even though I was only a part-time employee,  I was #2 out of all the busboys (full and part-time).  These guys were idiots.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse - Not long after the list came out, one of the managers told me I was doing a good job and was thinking about promoting me to dishwasher. A dishwasher works - IN THE KITCHEN.  WHERE IT SMELLS.  I didn’t know if I should be happy about a possible raise in pay, or if I should buy a bullet and rent a gun.  
Thankfully I would never find out if I were subject to any progression within the Royal Fork franchise (or as my friends lovingly referred to as: “The Royal F*ck”), as not long after this I found out that my hours at Wal-Mart were going to be restored.  Upon hearing this wonderful news, I promptly went into the back office of The Royal Fork and left the manager a note saying that "due to outside conflicts, effective immediately - I would no longer be working at the Royal Fork."  I left the building and never went back ever again.

So, in the end - while I do thank the Royal F*ck for employing me for what turned out to be one whole month, I have to say that it was the grossest place I ever worked, or hopefully will ever work.

Having said that, I did take away two valuable lessons from that situation that I am going to pass on to you:
  1. When I told my Dad about how I picked up a second job to make up for my cut hours at Wal-Mart, I remember the words and tone of his voice sort of told me he was proud of me.  Like he was proud that I took stock in my situation, and took responsibility to do what I had to do to get out of it.  Or he was just happy he didn’t have to give me any money.  Either way - I felt good about myself knowing that I made my Dad proud, and that I was able to get stuff done on my own;  and
  2. I learned pretty quick while clearing tables that it was in my best interest to keep any tips I found on the tables when I cleared them.  I was told at the beginning that if I found any tips before the servers did, I should give it to the servers.  I naively assumed that they would pool the tips and share them with everyone at the end of the shift.  Ha ha…yeah not so much.  After my first few nights of working and giving the servers probably $15 in tips – and getting nothing in return – I said “F*ck that” and kept EVERY tip I found.  While it wasn’t a lot of money (most people don’t tip at a buffet), the situation definitely showed me that the little guy on the totem pole has to look out for themselves or they are going to get screwed.  Finders-keepers bitch.
In a funny epilogue to my Royal Fork situation: Even though the manager saw my “resignation” note, he apparently still scheduled me to work on the coming week for some reason.  How do I know this?  I received a call one afternoon from the manager-on-duty, asking why I had not arrived for my shift.  I explained to him that I had quit the previous week, and had left a note for the general manager explaining this.

He said: “Well you are on the schedule.  You should be here.”  
I replied:  “Well, I’m not.” 
He then said “Mmm Hmm.  You’re on the schedule.  Are you coming in?” 

I laughed and hung up. 


(*) Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent


Miss a previous story?  Click HERE to see the Archives!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

I Totally Agree With This One

One time I found out the ladies at work were having a "Passion Party" that weekend, and told them I was disappointed that they didn't invite me.  This is pretty much how I was made to feel....


Monday, June 03, 2013

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 71

The Time Mookie and Megan Abused A Car On A Test Drive

A few years back, the wife and I decided we needed to get another car.  We wanted to get a "new" car, but not spend a lot on it - so that limited our options quite a bit.  "Megan (*)" did a bit of internet research and found a few cheap models we could possibly afford, but we needed to see them up close before we made any big decisions.  One weekend we decided to head to the nearest dealership that we knew had a few of the particular make/models we had in mind.  At the top of our list of low-end cars to drive was a particular  Mazda (I don't recall which one -  a Protege possibly).  It was cheap, but it was a Mazda - which we felt wasn't a horrible car.

Once we got on the car lot, as predicted we were approached by a salesman in about 35 seconds - His name was Al.  You know how a lot of car salesman are nicely dressed, and you can tell they are greasy smooth talkers?  This guy was the utter opposite of that.  He was odd, dorky, nervous and very shaky.  I immediately dubbed him "Shaky Al."  We talked to Al about the Mazda, and he said he'd let us take it for a test drive to see what we thought of it.  Well, since we had NO intention of buying this particular car (color was lame and it didn't have options we wanted) we figured we would definitely put the car to task and see what this son-of-a-bitch could actually do.  Megan was first behind the wheel, and once we were out of sight of the dealership and Shaky Al - she put her foot down.  She took us up the ramp onto the interstate and we were exceeding the speed limit before we even merged.  The car had decent acceleration given it's tin-can demeanor, but we wondered how it would handle going through some corners.  As luck would have it, we saw a "cloverleaf" interchange ahead and Megan decided to give the car a workout.
A cloverleaf interchange

Megan took the exit and we leeeeaned into the first curve with a decent amount of speed, but not too much because we weren't sure what it would do - so she used some brake.  We came out of the curve up onto the perpendicular interstate and then entered the other clover.  As she hit the second curve, this time Megan used NO brake and she cramped the wheel taking us through yet another clover.  By the time we exited the third and forth clovers, Megan was on the gas into AND out of the curves.  She was really giving it hell, and I remember hearing the sound of the tires scraping the ground like they were just on the edge of losing their grip on the road - but yet she was still in control of it.  It was beautiful.  She always said she wanted to be the "professional driver on a closed course" that you always see doing the crazy shit in car commercials.

Once we got back on the primary interstate and up the road a bit, I said that it was my turn. Megan pulled off in a Hardee's parking lot so we could switch, and as we got out of the car we both noticed that there was an odd smell in the air.  Megan said "Do you smell that?"  And I smiled and said "Yeah."  It may have been coming from the car, but we weren't sure.

Once we got buckled in, I departed the parking lot and headed back in the direction of the dealership - and the cloverleaf.  Needless to say, I too felt the need for speed.  We were buzzing along pretty good when we got back to the cloverleaf, and I took the exit at full speed.  I jacked the wheel and we both held on and laughed our asses off.  I accelerated out of the curve up onto the entrance of the 2nd cloverleaf and tried my best to match Megan's effort to tear the wheels off the car as we tore through the curves.  The third and forth clovers were navigated with the same reckless abandon that Megan delivered, and the car probably sighed when we finally got back on the interstate towards the dealership.

When we both exited the car back at the dealership, we quickly noticed that the smell we smelled before back at Hardee's was even more pronounced - and definitely coming from the car.  Whoops.
"Hey Al we're back!  Yeah that's one hot automobile."

I figured it was probably the smell of the oils and grease they coat new car parts with burning off from the heat of the engine.  At least that's what I tried to convince myself.  When Shaky Al came out to greet us, we tried to keep him away from the car so that he couldn't smell the evidence that we had abused the shit out of it.  I don't know if we succeeded, but he never acted like he was any wiser about it.  I didn't matter in the end though, because we ended up going back to him a few weeks later and buying a different car.

So let that be lesson to you the next time you are looking to buy a car.  You never know who might have test-driven it, or owned it before you got there.  It might be someone who did stuff like we did.  Or even something like this:









GOD THAT WOULD BE AWESOME.




(*) - Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent.

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