Bon Mots and Cheap Shots

You sing a sad song just to turn it around

A long time ago a friend of mine told me that you create your own mood.  That’s why you’ll never hear me say “I’m in a bad mood.”  I might be a little snappy but I will rarely cop to it, because it’s not a crutch to me, it’s a place to leave.  Consequently, I don’t have bad days.  Some days are more challenging than others, but for the most part, there are no bad days.  Yesterday was an exception.  If I could rate a the top 10, yesterday would be there.  For the last year, I have done my “run” on Mondays.  I send the report to the asset managers on Monday night or Tuesday morning.  Some middle management wanker has decided that they want their reports first thing Monday morning now.  This is stupid and typical mid-management decision making.  If they had any idea what they were doing they would ask for them first thing Tuesday morning.

Here’s how it works.  We get an asset and we have it until it goes on the market.  During this period we are supposed to check on it every seven days.  Over a year ago I figured out that most of the stuff that happens to these vacant REO’s happens over the weekend.  I do my inspection Monday so I can catch all of the weekend’s sin and have the week to report it, get bids, get it fixed etc.  If I have to report first thing Monday morning, the inspection will occur Friday and it will go the weekend in whatever condition I find it in.  Stupid, but that’s what they want.  After a year of doing the run on Monday, it’s apparent now that it has to happen on Friday.  Friday because Saturday and Sunday are reserved for showing property.  (See how that all went together?)  This is a new procedure for them and I spent most of yesterday getting yelled at about drive by inspections that these guys wanted their reports on.  And we all know how much I love arbitrary corporation decision making.

Let’s add just a little twist to all of that. The banks have their own inspectors who check up on us.  I promise you a house can be in perfect condition and the inspector will find something.  It’s their job to find something, so in order to justify their existence, I think they make shit up.  I haven’t run into our local inspector but my contractor has.  He calls him The Worm.  Actually he calls him some other things, The Worm is the nicest.  So a good portion of my days are battling with bullshit reports generated by The Worm.

Sunday night I woke up in the middle of the night wide awake for about two hours starting at 2am.  Of course when that happens, the next step is to fall back asleep 30 mintues before I should get up and sleep through the alarm for two hours.  So that’s how the day started, with a headache to boot.  No worries, I just adjust right?  I get a late start out the door but that’s ok because an old friend is retiring from the title business and her party is in Castro Valley Monday night, I’ll work out the run to be over there last.  I go by the first three houses and get on the highway heading out to Antioch.  I stop at one of our properties and jump back on at Port Chicago.  It’s raining lightly and I look down at the gauges to be sure I turned the lights on and there’s a little red diagram of a battery.  WTF?!?!?!?  Well, sometimes random lights come on the dashboard of the BMW.  The solution is to essentially reboot the car.  I move to the right lane so I can pull off at the next exit, which is Pittsburg.  Then I look in the rear view mirror and there is a trail of smoke behind me and cars are pulling up next to me and pointing.  I’m not a little scared at this point, I’m very very scared.  The exit is just over the crest and on a down hill so I take the exit.  Smoke is coming out of the hood and I’m leaving a giant cloud in my wake.  Come baby, get me to the shoulder!  As I am for the most part coasting down the ramp I notice the car is feeling really heavy.  I’ve lost power steering.  Most cars are heavy when they lose power steering.  4200 pounds of German steel is extremely heavy.  I make the turn and coast to a stop on the side of the road.  I manage to even get past the red painted curb and the bus stop.  I look at the gauges the temp gauge has spiked, and the rest of the dash is lit up like the 4th of July.  And smoke is pouring out of the hood.  I grab my phone and my brief case and run behind the car and call 911.  It’s a highway patrol call from where I am so I get the CHP.  I don’t know what moron they had answering the phone but I had to explain to her like five times where I was.   Five times after I told her which highway, which exit and what City, and I always give proper direction, like in South of the 4 on San Marcos just past the exit.  Not hard to find.  The first time I didn’t give all the information.  I said I was in Pittsburg off of the San Marcos exit.  In truth, if you know Pittsburg, you know there is only one highway so I had to be off of the 4.  I forgot the mention the 4 the first time.  Still, the Highway Patrol should have known that.  It took her four minutes to figure out where I was.  That’s a long time when smoke is billowing out from under your hood.  I asked for the fire department.  They knew where I was.  While I was explaining to this woman five times where I was, I figured that if the engine was in fact on fire, it would be a full fledged car-b-que by the time I got a fireman out there.

I’m always surprised when I’m quick on my feet.  Yesterday I was. I was afraid a full blown engine fire would be raging before this dispatcher actually dispatched anyone. So there I am at the side of the road pulling everything of value out of my trunk and stacking it up on the side of the road.  Calloway golf clubs.  Check.  100 pounds of lock boxes.  Check.  Ecco golf shoes.  Check.  Tool box.  Check.  Brief case.  Check.  Gym bag.  Check.  The thing was, I didn’t know if it really was a fire or not and I wasn’t going to be the asshole that opened the hood, let it get the oxygen it needed and blow up my own car.  Once I got the idiot dispatcher off the phone it was a matter of moments before the officer arrived.  She wasted all of the time.


The officer tested the hood and chose to open it.  As it turned out it was coolant blown all over the engine and I felt kind of stupid for calling them.  He was cool though.  I didn’t know him which translates that he must be new because he hasn’t written me a ticket yet.  He said I was smart in calling it in, a lot of people don’t and the car is in flames by the time they get there.  I told him I felt like a dumb ass with all of my shit stacked up by the side of the road.  He said that most people don’t think of that until it’s too late so I was actually correct in pulling everything out of the car.

When I got off of the phone with 911 I called Sonofabun who naturally had just left Pittsburg and was almost to Concord.  He dutifully came back over the hill and picked up my dumb stranded ass and drove me back to civilization.  And that $19 upgrade to my CSAA paid off in spades.  It’s a long way from Pittsburg to Walnut Creek on the back of a tow truck.  The CHP asked me if I wanted to try and start it, I said “no” I wanted it towed out of there.  He called me a tow because they have to come in 30 minutes for the CHP.  Cool dude.  Hopefully he’s that cool when he catches me doing 80 in the same BMW on that same stretch of road.  Because he will.  They all do.

After I got home I switched to the truck to finish my run.  I went by the shop because I left a garage door opener to one of our properties in the BMW.  They had just gotten the car but he walked out and popped the hood.  There was coolant all over the engine.  He looks down and says “Your fan belt is missing”.  Battery charge light comes on, temp spikes, yep that makes sense.  I just hope that I shut down quick enough that there is no other damage.

So when I say I had a bad day, you know the criteria is at least the appearance of the Highway Patrol, the Fire Department and a tow truck with the promise of a large repair bill that you have no idea how I’m going to cover it.  That’s what bad days are all about.

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