Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sacred Life Sunday: Living on the Edge....

My life is still consumed by cars. Looking at cars, test-driving cars, evaluating cars, considering buying cars.

I thought I'd found one but it didn't quite work out. It was a cute, perky and clean Mazda Protege. That one went by the wayside when I discovered a problem I was unwilling to deal with.

Yesterday, I went to look at another car. It was cute and perky, too. I liked the color. It had been well-maintained.

The woman selling it showed up in the parking lot at 24-Hour Fitness where we'd agreed to meet. I was in my housemate's Infiniti which makes me look far classier than I really am.

When I took a look at Sally's (fake name, obviously) Kia Sephia, I saw that she'd selectively chosen the pictures she chose to put in the ad. It had no license plates, questionable DMV paperwork and it hadn't been smogged in some ungodly number of years, if ever. (I suspect it was an out-of-state car.) These are all things she failed to tell me when we discussed the car on the phone.

She showed up with her two kids in the back seat. She continually yelled at them the entire time we were together. Loud, boisterous yelling. I'm not sure how to say this but she was obviously low-income. I am not slamming low-income people which would be hypocritical at best, considering that I'm low income, too. But there's low income ~ and there's low income.

She swore it would smog. No problem.

I knew she was full of baloney and decided to put her feet to the fire. I took her down the street with her little car to have it smogged. My suggestion. My expense. It did not pass. It would have been impossible for me to register that vehicle without considerable mechanical work. When I looked through the paperwork at the smog test site, I also realized it was a salvage title. That would have meant additional expense on my part because it would have had to go through a DMV safety check as well. It's not easy to get a car registered, once it's been totaled.

I wished her well and left.

As I drove home, I thought about people who live on the edge. They're willing to drive unregistered, uninsured vehicles. They look in the rear view mirror all the time, hoping they won't see a cop. They don't smog their vehicles. They are the ones who hit people's cars and take off. They are also the types who squat in people's houses, not paying rent. They live their lives always on the edge, courting the next disaster.

Being a person who doesn't like risks that are not calculated to the last infinite possibility, it's hard for me to relate to that way of life.

What's harder to deal with is the blatant dishonesty. Sally's dishonesty. She was hoping I would be too ignorant to recognize the problems. Or perhaps she was hoping that I would just *want* it so badly that I'd accept the problems. (Nope! I'm actually a very hard sell and very pragmatic when it comes to that kind of thing.) Sally is impulse-driven. Want will trump pragmatism every time. If she wants something, that's all that matters. She wanted a few thousand dollars of my money and it made no difference how she got it.

It's people like that who make life difficult for the rest of us. Simple honesty would be freeing for everyone. Tell the truth and let people make their choices. She could sell that car to someone who wants a project car or someone who is a mechanic and they'd be grateful for it.

The stress of living on the edge is rarely worth it. Rules have a purpose and long-range consequences when they are broken. Sally will probably always live that way, puddle-jumping from one crisis to another, trying to get by with as little as possible, hoping always for an advantage.

She had the ad back up within an hour of having met me. She mentioned nothing about it not being smoggable.

It was the best $58.00 I ever spent.

Okay. Very little Sacred Life Sunday content unless you read between the lines. :)



Woman in a Window said...

Chaini, I'm going to start this off by saying sometimes we're not all one or the other. For the most part, I follow rules, but I do remember times when I felt really desperate, when I felt my back up against the wall, and when I wasn't as open as I should have been disclosing certain facts. I'm not saying that that was ok, but what I am saying, is that maybe a situation can change how you behave. Maybe she's desperate for some reason, low income or not. Maybe next time she'll act differently. I don't know. But things aren't always black and white. (Hey, is this the first time I've disagreed with you? I think just about.)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Sadly, there is an entire sub-culture of those who for whatever reason live beneath the radar and pride themselves on being survivors. Too often, this means taking advantage of others.

A car that has been totaled will never be safe to drive and should be sold to a mechanic for parts. It is sad that Sally's children and others like them are living substandard lives.

I don't think you should have to pay for smogging or anything else to register an unsafe car and bring it up to insurable standards. In my experience, Craig's List is not a good place to buy most things and you would do better to visit a used car lot. When you find a good candidate, take it to a mechanic before you buy it. Good luck!!

Deodand said...

Good for you, using your brains and research capabilities to buy a car! So many people are too lazy to go to the trouble and just buy something that leaves them broke and stranded. You really have to be careful these days - frame damage is really hard to spot.

ConverseMomma said...

I feel sorry for her, but it makes me angry too. It's sometimes hard to reconcile those two emotions.

S said...

Augh. This is complicated, yes?

On a purely pragmatic level, I'm glad you did the work on your end and are not going to end up with a lemon.

MARY G said...

I hate it that she had kids in that car.
Nicely dodged. You are obviously clever about cars. Good for you.

Carol said...

I'm glad that you are awake to the evidence so that you aren't taken advantage of.

I do agree with Woman in a Window. The woman with the car may act differently if she ever feels that she has her needs met - or if she realizes that dishonesty doesn't get her needs met. I know that, when I was younger and needier, I was not as honest and clear as I (hopefully) am now.

thailandchani said...

Erin and Carol, I do get what you are saying intellectually. At the same time, I don't think ethics are that fluid. If that makes me "black and white", guilty as charged.

The whole thing is that no one has the right to coerce me into helping them through deception. They certainly have a right to let me know they are struggling and let me choose how I will help - if I can. Dishonesty can't be justified, imo.

How did Sally know that I am not struggling the same as she is? The truth is that I am. Does her self-interest trump my right to make an honest purchase? Just because I drove up in *someone else's* Infiniti? She was wrong, I think... no matter how you slice it.

While it is definitely all of our responsibility to make sure that everyone's needs are met, as best we can, I think we have the right to expect honesty.

Just my opinion. :)


Brandi Reynolds said...

I think I have a somewhat different perspective.

I think there are those with the intent to deceive, that choose to live on the edge.

I think many more though do not see a way out or do not have any support (and I know from experience that to change your life for the better, you often need SOME kind of support) or are in circumstances where they are desperate.

While I understand that many of those circumstances are because of personal choices, if someone has always been shown a victim mentality and never shown another way to live or given tools to live another way, frankly, my heart goes out to them.

I wouldn't have bought the car either but I guess from my perspective, I feel sorry for her.

Z said...

You're in the right, Chani and Sally is 100% wrong. Being desperate for money (and we don't know she is, not everyone in the underclass is short of money, some are incapable of spending it wisely) does not give her the right to cheat and deceive people. You were honourable in taking it to be tested when you already knew damn well it wasn't a good buy. She still chose to lie and cheat. I have some very poor friends who have standards and morals. I hope you have better luck next time, you really deserve it.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Things like that annoy me too, and I'm glad you were able to spot the problems before you made a commitment.

And I hope you find a terrific car really soon so you can stop expending so much energy on this.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chani,

Beware, there have been groups of eastern Europeans in the Sacramento area selling salvage cars for a living. My advice is to use CARFAX to check the history of the car before making an offer. When you response to the adv ask if it a salvage car first and then for the VIN number.

Jen said...

Actually, I think there's a great deal of sacred life content here. Maybe I was just reading between the lines.

C recently had a "living on the edge" incident in his life and it was one of the best lessons he ever learned. I hope it sticks with him a long, long time. I had a similar lesson at his age. (I think 16 is an excellent age to have this kind of lesson and have it STICK).

Honesty does make things similar. Life is all about choices, and we can't make choices if we don't have the right information.

I loved this post, Chani.

Leann said...

I owned a Kia Sephia once and would never recommend that type of car to anyone. Good choice.

Good luck on your search!

Anonymous said...

it is so foreign to me, not the living on the edge. that i've done. but the fact that so many people on the edge don't seem terrified to be there.

Mariposa said...

Glad you did not take it! And yes, there are people who are living on the edge, it's sad, yet, most of the time, it is their choice!

I am apalled by her dishonesty and her guts...if I am on her shoes, I'd be more careful so as not to put myself into more trouble that I already am... (SIGH)

I wish you finally get that car for you...

Angela said...

What's really amazing is how much people that do this kind of thing actually get away with it. Otherwise, why keep doing it? What's a shame is that she doesn't see that being honest and upfront will actually get her much farther in the long run. I think most people really do want to help others and be straight in their dealings and it usually ends up being a win/win situation when approached in a spirit of cooperation. I'm totally with you on this, Chani.